Social Enterprise Start-up Weekend: Students to pitch innovative solutions for Niagara, March 9-11

Niagara College is calling on its student entrepreneurs to spark ideas and set them ablaze as part of a Social Enterprise Start-up Weekend.

Hosted by the College’s entrepreneurship hub, ncTakeOff, and sponsored by Meridian Credit Union, the Social Enterprise Start-up Weekend will be held from March 9 to 11 at the College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus. Participating students are tasked with coming up with a business idea around this year’s social enterprise theme, forming a business model, and pitching them to a panel of industry professionals.

Event judges – including St. Catharines mayor Walter Sendzik, executive director of Niagara Connects Mary Wiley, director of operations at Innovate Niagara N’ora Kalb, and director of small business at Meridian Credit Union Shaun Adams – will select a winner for the grand prize of $1,000 cash, and professional development tools to support the winning start-up. The winner will also be automatically advanced to the second stage of the Ignite Pitch Series Competition which will be held on April 4.

Participants will have a chance to hear from keynote speaker Yashvi Shah, founder of Code Niagara – a Niagara-based social enterprise that aims to break down barriers to learn to code or become more tech-savvy.

“I feel that this weekend will give students an amazing opportunity to become more aware of what’s going on in the Niagara region, brainstorm and create some innovative solutions for the region,” said ncTakeOff project manager Madi Fuller. “Niagara is a rapidly-growing region with a lot of different moving parts, so I’m excited to see what is important to students and where they would like to see some improvement or progression.”

This is the second year that ncTakeOff has hosted the start-up weekend, following last year’s event that had an agri-food theme. Fuller is expecting about 30 students to participate in this year, and noted that this year’s social enterprise theme is drawing students not only from the College’s Business programs  but from a variety of study areas – including  Culinary Innovation and Food Technology, Fitness and Health Promotion, and more.

Faculty from the School of Business will serve as mentors at the event, along with advisors from Niagara-based entrepreneurship and innovation hubs including Innovate Niagara, BioLink, and various social enterprise owners.

NC Event Management students are helping to plan and execute the event, while faculty from across the College, and staff from the Centre for Student Engagement and Leadership have offered additional supports.

The event is free of charge for students and participants must register by March 2. All participants must be Niagara College students. Entries may be submitted on an individual or team basis.  All contestants must register via Eventbrite by March 2.

For details visit

Following the Social Enterprise Start-up Weekend, the second stage of the Ignite Pitch Series – Pitch Perfect event will be held at Niagara College on April 4. Open to students from any Ontario college or university, the second pitch event, in turn, gives the winner a chance to advance to the Ignite Niagara community pitch competition where participants compete for a $10,000 prize and a bundle of business services valued at $30,000. Six finalists will be chosen to pitch at an evening event in May, 2018 from 5-8pm (Exact date TBA).

Social Enterprise Start-up Weekend Schedule

  • Friday, March 9: opening ceremony and Keynote Speaker, Yashvi Shah of Code Niagara (6-7 p.m.), team finalization (7-8 p.m.),
  • Saturday, March 10: Pitch preparation for teams
  • Sunday, March 11: Presentation day (1 p.m. in The Armoury), winner announced (3 p.m. in The Armoury)


Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit




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