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Community Research Teaching & Learning

U of R and TD celebrate $300,000 to advance student entrepreneurship through U of R GATE Centre

24 June 2024
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In many ways, graduate students at the University of Regina are engines of research and drivers of innovation. Equipped with the right tools, knowledge, and professional skills to hone their groundbreaking research projects and ideas, these students are helping solve some of society’s pressing challenges. 

Recently, TD Bank Group (TD) pledged $300,000 to the University’s Graduate Advanced Training and Entrepreneurship (GATE) Centre in the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR). The GATE Centre funding will be used to meet the increasing student demand for professional and entrepreneurial training that is so vital for graduate student success in today’s dynamic economy. 

A group of smiling people stand together and hold a novelty-sized cheque.
Members of TD Bank Group presented the U of R GATE Centre with $300,000 to fund entrepreneurial programming and professional skills training for graduate students participating in GATE. L to R – Dr. Aziz Douai, Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research; Nicole Beaton, Vice President and Region Head, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northern Ontario; Dr. Jeff Keshen, President and Vice-Chancellor, U of R; and Craig Jensen, District Vice President, Saskatchewan East / Manitoba West. Photo credit: U of R Photography

“A University of Regina education prepares students to be successful in whatever careers they choose,” says Dr. Jeff Keshen, President of the University of Regina. “In part, this is because of the enormous value that exists in supporting and promoting student entrepreneurship across campus and building an ecosystem of innovation. Thanks to TD’s generous funding for the GATE Centre, the U of R is poised to become an entrepreneurial hub in the province, providing further opportunities for our students.” 

Programs like GATE create central hubs that stimulate the creation of innovative technology, while simultaneously advancing students in their professional development and increasing their potential to make impactful contributions to society.  Joshua Adams, BSc’22 (Honours)

The GATE Centre supports Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan by developing career-ready graduates for Saskatchewan’s evolving labour market. 

“We’re so proud to support GATE’s work to nurture and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan,” says Nicole Beaton, Vice President and Region Head, TD Bank Group. “Through the TD Ready Commitment, our corporate citizenship platform, we’re helping prepare people for the jobs of tomorrow by investing in programs that offer new skills training and entrepreneurship opportunities geared towards improving income stability.” 

A unique model

Established in 2022, the U of R’s GATE Centre partners with external organizations to bring real-world professional expertise and training to students to build bridges between the University and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Saskatchewan. 

“External partners act as mentors for participants in GATE’s programming for events such as startup bootcamps, innovation summits, and career networking and readiness,” says Dr. Aziz Douai, Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. 

To date, GATE has partnered with several organizations, including Startup TNT, Cultivator (powered by Conexus), and Foresight Clean Tech, that have introduced students – through interactive group learning sessions and mentorship – to the fundamental skills necessary to participate successfully in the world of entrepreneurship. The students then apply the training and concepts learned in a final pitch competition where they vie with other U of R teams in the GATE Centre for prizes. 

Three smiling people seated around a table.

Student participants in the GATE pitch competition, April 2024. L to R – Joshua Adams, BSc’22 (Honours), Colin Rieger, BSc’23, and Andy McLennan, MSc’24 (clinical psychology). Photo credit: Christen Johnson.

Joshua Adams, BSc’22 (Honours), and Colin Rieger, BSc’23, presented their pitch on their project Aureus Pharmaceuticals – a new solution to combat antibiotic resistance – at the Startup Bootcamp pitch competition finale in April 2024. 

“In graduate school you learn many different skills,” says Rieger. “But what most students lack are the soft skills, such as the ability to communicate scientific ideas and findings in a way that is accessible and more easily understood by potential funders and customers.” 

Thanks to the GATE program, Joshua and Colin have gained valuable experience and made important connections with mentors from the entrepreneurial community in Saskatchewan. 

“Programs like GATE create central hubs that stimulate the creation of innovative technology, while simultaneously advancing students in their professional development and increasing their potential to make impactful contributions to society,” says Adams. 

Building an ecosystem of innovation

GATE is the first step for graduate students entering the world of entrepreneurship. GATE provides an introductory and exploratory understanding of entrepreneurship for students when they are developing their research so that they can create real-world impact through entrepreneurial thinking, business, and social innovation. 

“All graduate students, who are working on their professional development skills and entrepreneurial initiatives, can directly access GATE’s programming and services,” explains Douai. “We are connecting students from different disciplines – computer science, engineering, business, fine arts, and education, for example – to create a cross-disciplinary hub of ideas, services, and products.” 

Individual stands at podium next to a PowerPoint presentation.

Joshua Adams presenting at the GATE pitch competition on his project with Colin Rieger – Aureus Pharmaceuticals. Photo credit: Christen Johnson.

U of R’s GATE Centre has recently hired an academic lead, Bruce Anderson from the Faculty of Business Administration, who will develop further entrepreneurial programming within GATE. Beginning this fall, Anderson will host events on key aspects of business, entrepreneurial, and design thinking. In addition, GATE offers career readiness and professional skills development to better prepare students for Saskatchewan’s evolving labour market. 

“Bruce Anderson has plenty of experience in building enterprises and working with the private sector,” explains Douai. “In this new role, he brings a powerful combination of academic quality and hands-on experience to inspire and share with our students.” 

Looking ahead

Thanks to the support of TD, U of R’s GATE Centre is now able to expand its offerings. 

“The GATE Centre has already achieved much success that we can build upon,” says Douai.  “GATE has hired two additional staff that are proud U of R alumni and community champions who have created strong relationships across multiple sectors within Saskatchewan to develop collaborative programming.” 

Interested in participating in the U of R’s GATE Centre? Find out more about GATE’s programming.

Currently, the U of R is renovating the sixth floor of the Dr. John Archer Library and Archives to house the new GATE Centre where students can collaborate, work on their startups, mentor with experienced entrepreneurs, and attend academic lectures.

“My vision is for GATE is to function like a startup residency,” says Douai. “The Gate Centre should be a meeting hub for winners of past pitch competitions, current graduate students, and entrepreneurial mentors to work together, share ideas or experiences, and support each other.”

Banner photo credit: U of R Photography

About the University of Regina

2024 marks our 50th anniversary as an independent University (although our roots as Regina College date back more than a century!). As we celebrate our past, we work towards a future that is as limitless as the prairie horizon. We support the health and well-being of our 16,700 students and provide them with hands-on learning opportunities to develop career-ready graduates – more than 90,000 alumni enrich communities in Saskatchewan and around the globe. Our research enterprise has grown to 21 research centres and 9 Canada Research Chairs. Our campuses are on Treaties 4 and 6 - the territories of the nêhiyawak, Anihšināpēk, Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda peoples, and the homeland of the Michif/Métis nation. We seek to grow our relationships with Indigenous communities to build a more inclusive future.

Let’s go far, together.

Learn More

Students – if you are interested in entrepreneurship and innovation, the GATE Centre is for you! Find out more.