‘Next Silicon Valley’: Edmonton student group, NXT-GEN, launches entrepreneurship accelerator program
A University of Alberta business student group is launching an accelerator program to “bridge the gap,” helping others become “high potential” entrepreneurs.
NXT-GEN, a club formed by business students at the University of Alberta, was founded in February 2021 and currently has around 40 members. The program started with a goal of filling the gaps in high school-level business education, hosting drop-in events, a speaker series and visiting 11 schools last year.
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Colin Tran, the club’s founder and president, said the NXT-GEN Accelerator Program was an idea fostered since the group was founded; the goal is to make the Edmonton entrepreneurship ecosystem accessible to students.
Tran said the program’s application window will be open until the end of October and the club will be accepting a cohort of 50 students for the program’s inaugural year, scheduled to run one Saturday per month from November 2022 to May 2023.
“We’re going to run them through essentially everything they need to be able to start a high-growth business on their own,” said Tran, adding the program will include workshops, networking galas, mentors from the startup community and more.
“We’re really looking forward to offering this program that will hopefully not only retain, but also develop, the talent pool within Alberta and lead towards what we’re starting to see in the Edmonton ecosystem, which is this trend towards trying to become the next Silicon Valley.”
Tran said the program already has partnerships in place, including those with Technology Alberta, Startup Edmonton and eHUB, the University of Alberta’s entrepreneurship centre.
The group will bring in industry professionals to provide a lot of the program’s content, but it is “architected by students, designed for students.”
Tran said those who take part in the program will be “accelerating their entire career.” He added NXT-GEN has plugins to Alberta tech companies which could lead to anything from a job opportunity to becoming the next tech company in Alberta, although, it won’t just apply to the tech industry.
“We have plugins to launch your next job, plugins to accelerate your career, plugins to allow you to switch industries, to let you start your next business,” he said.
“Really, you’re getting a distillation of everything you would otherwise be getting in a business program, condensed into a student-friendly program with networks you’ll need in order to find that next opportunity.”
Tran added the program has a cost, which is to be determined, but it will be “affordable and accessible,” adding that high school students, Grade 10 and above, university students at any level and 2022 graduates are eligible for the program. There will also be at least $5,000 of prize money up for grabs for those enrolled.
“So many companies that are out there and ones that we’ve worked with, even just spoken with, have consistently expressed, ‘Where are the students? How do we bring in new talent?’ ” he said.
“This (program) is meant to be that way of creating and maintaining that pipeline within Edmonton.”