Government and Dalhousie and NSCAD universities are creating a place where students, innovators and industry will work together to develop student-led startups.
The Innovative Design and Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA) Sandbox will bring engineering, business and design experts together to support students and help them take their good ideas to market. It will be on Dalhousie’s Halifax campus with some activities at NSCAD.
IDEA will provide meeting space, 3D printers, computer aided design (CAD) software, and wood and metal shops to build prototypes and test ideas.
“The sandbox has given me the opportunity to pursue an idea that came straight from my mechanical engineering background, but also combined my passions for surfing and design,” said Andreas Hart, Dalhousie engineering graduate and inventor of a computer-controlled mill used to make surfboards. “I’ve also gained valuable business knowledge in such a short time, it’s unbelievable.”
Sandbox activities will include weekend concept development training camps, a six-week summer Design, Development and Innovation Start-up boot camp and an annual start-up tournament. Seminars and mentorship from industry and entrepreneurial leaders will also be available.
“Encouraging innovation is fundamental to the change Nova Scotia needs,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “That’s really what sandboxes are all about, bringing the right people together — creative thinkers, mentors and industry — to invent new ways of doing things.”
Government will invest $250,000 and Dalhousie’s faculty of engineering $50,000 in the sandbox.
“We have a rich history of innovation here in Nova Scotia,” said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan. “Some would say Alexander Graham Bell’s sandbox was the Bras d’Or Lakes. Nova Scotians have always had great ideas, and today we are helping bring them to life.”
This is the sixth sandbox announced by government. They are an example of the initiatives the oneNS Coalition has said will help build a stronger economy, create opportunities for youth and attract and retain international students.