The Maritimes isn’t exactly a place one would call “red hot” in the Canadian startup space, but it’s certainly not sitting idle either. Notable startups like Clarity and GoInstant are setting positive examples while events like East Coast Startup Week and a recent plethora of provincially-funded innovation programs targeted towards students are creating a positive trend.
Today the province of New Brunswick is announcing a new graduate and doctoral scholarship initiative for students in the STEM disciplines, designed to “boost New Brunswick’s position as a hotbed for Canadian innovation”.
Ranging between $4,000 and $21,000, the scholarships are designed to attract, train and retain the talent the province needs to feed its slowly but surely growing innovation economy.
Offered by the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF) students must be undertaking studies one of the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) or social innovation to qualify.
The New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training & Labour in provided the funding for the $7 million New Brunswick Graduate Scholarship Initiative as part of the provincial government’s innovation strategy.
“We’re very proud to be offering these important scholarships for the first time in New Brunswick,” said NBIF ‘s Robert Hatheway, “There is a lot of ground breaking research happening in the province as we speak, and we need to build on this. These scholarships will help recruit and retain the best students and inspire them to seriously consider innovation as a career path here.”
Clarity founder Dan Martell, one of the most well-known startup personalities from the east coast, told BetaKit that “there’s some smart moves being made here, and the government is starting to take a supporting role (vs. leading) and it’s working.”
Aside from initiatives like this, Martell pointed to a few other things that have propelled the Maritime provinces recently, like the Radian6 and GoInstant exits, startup accelerators like propelICT/Launch36, Volta and Planet Hatch, as well as VC firms and angel investors like East Valley Ventures and Build Ventures.
He also made note of his own startup, Clarity, which pairs up knowledge-seeking entrepreneurs with business experts via phone chats. Clarity gave early access to east coasters first and they “use it like crazy”, with over 500 experts available from the region alone.
The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF) is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that invests in new growth-oriented companies and applied research activities. With over $120 million under management, plus $275 million leveraged from other sources, NBIF has helped to create over 50 companies and fund 350 applied research projects since its inception in 2003. All of NBIF’s investment returns go back into the Foundation to be re-invested in other new companies and research initiatives.