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Scotiabank Donates to Saint Mary’s University to Spur Entrepreneurs

15 October, 2015

A new era for technology startups has begun with the introduction of the Master of Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MTEI) program at Saint Mary’s University and the backing of two homegrown donors.

Saint Mary’s president Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray today officially announced two gifts from Scotiabank and Group Head and CEO, Global Banking and Markets at Scotiabank, Mike Durland and his wife Catherine Durland totaling $1.5 million.

“Saint Mary’s Sobey School of Business has a vision to increase the number of technology start-ups in Canada and drive innovation and entrepreneurial activity,” said Dr. Summerby-Murray. “With the support of Scotiabank and Mike and Catherine Durland, the MTEI program will prepare our next generation of leaders for new technologies and transformative opportunities, contributing the growth of the economy in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada.”

Visionary early-stage startups are crucial to producing more high-growth companies, creating more jobs and boosting the economy.

“Programs like this are important in creating a thriving private sector – and that is essential for our province to prosper, create new jobs and attract private investment and newcomers,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “This funding will prepare our next generation of leaders for new technologies and the transformative opportunities we need to propel Nova Scotia’s economy forward.”

The MTEI graduate program is positioned to close the gaps in existing business practices and educate students for cutting- edge technology. To that end, Scotiabank’s gift has created the Scotiabank Professorship in Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The professor supports the leadership of MTEI’s founder and designer, Professor Dawn Jutla (BSc, MCs, PhD). Dr. Jutla has a history of building innovation networks and contributing to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. She is a leader in technology entrepreneurship, innovation, e-commerce, privacy protection for Web applications, big data management and business models. The professorship will focus on keeping ahead of demand for graduate educational services in technology entrepreneurship and innovation.

“Scotiabank believes in the importance of investing in the next generation of innovative thinkers and is proud to partner with Saint Mary’s University to introduce the Scotiabank Professorship in Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation,” said Craig Thompson, Senior Vice President, Atlantic Region at Scotiabank. “We believe this professorship and program will help inspire the next generation of young talented business minds in our community. The MTEI program elevates the likelihood of success for students because it provides that combination of business skills, innovation and entrepreneurship that are essential for ideas to be brought to fruition and commercialized. ”

The importance of financial support for and opportunities for innovation to enhance student success is a priority for Saint Mary’s alumni Mike and Catherine Durland whose donation will go towards MTEI student scholarships and the creation of the Durland Innovation Fund. The Durland Innovation Fund brings together thinkers to share best practices, support the development of new curricula, will spark new products and services, enhance recruitment efforts, and support participation in case competitions, both at Saint Mary’s and elsewhere.

“It’s our pleasure to give back to such a great university and support students who have the potential to become dynamic and innovative forces in the business community, in Canada and around the world,” said Durland. “We believe that investing in young people is the path to community prosperity and are looking forward to seeing the achievements of the students.”

Funds for student scholarships have already made a critical difference to the high achieving professionals who take time from successful careers to return to school as students in the MTEI Program. As well, scholarships will allow the MTEI Program to encourage enrolment from underrepresented groups such as women, Aboriginal people, international students, and students from rural communities in Nova Scotia.

“The Durland Innovation Fund allowed me to participate in international competitions and gain global exposure for our product,“ said Shelley Simpson-McKay, MTEI graduate and Durland Innovation Winner for her LED lighting system, ShowBattery, that allows trade show exhibitors to power their own displays. “When you’re an entrepreneur, sometimes you hear a lot of “no’s,” so it is nice to know that someone is paying attention to what you’re doing and supporting you.”

The Sobey School of Business launched Atlantic Canada’s first Master-level Business School program specializing solely in technology entrepreneurship and innovation in 2013 and has sparked five startups and progressed two more existing startups. Many students will intern at other startups or innovative companies to advance those businesses. Enrolment over three years has tripled from seven students to 22.