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Youth to influence health innovation through Seneca entrepreneurial exchange

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The Ontario Government announced it would be funding HELIX at an event on September 23. In attendance for the announcement were from left to right: James Watzke, Dean, Applied Research; Mike Sparling, Dean, Faculty of Business; Kelly Jackson, Director, Strategic Planning and Public Affairs; Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research and Innovation, and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities; Daniel Atlin, Vice-President, Strategy and College Affairs and Han Dong, Member of Provincial Parliament, Trinity-Spadina.

Seneca is launching a $200,000 youth entrepreneurship initiative that will allow students and youth to explore and develop their own business ventures related to personal health products or services. This initiative will match student entrepreneurs with resources and mentors to grow their business ideas.

HELIX (Health Entrepreneurship and Lifestyle Innovation Xchange) is an opportunity for selected students and youth to develop entrepreneurial skills and take their business ideas to the next level with access to mentors, leading-edge incubator workspace and other business start-up resources.

“Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit among students is a key component of Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy, through programs that help transfer their ideas and skills to the marketplace while creating rewarding careers,” said Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research and Innovation, and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. “By partnering with colleges and universities to support entrepreneurship, we are ensuring our province’s business leaders of tomorrow are getting the support they need to succeed today.”

“Recognized as the most entrepreneurial college in Ontario, Seneca is always looking for new ways to innovate and inspire our students to do the same,” said David Agnew, Seneca President. “We are delighted to build on our reputation by extending this new entrepreneurship opportunity to our students as well as youth from the community.”

Seneca students and youth from the community (age 18 to 29) will be invited to apply for HELIX, where they will have the opportunity to develop their own “healthy” business venture, while receiving entrepreneurship training and sector-specific support. Selected Seneca students will participate in HELIX as an extra-curricular activity.

In December, youth registrants will have the opportunity to apply to move on to the HELIX incubator at Seneca’s Newnham Campus. Successful applicants will work in venture teams (from January to June) engaging in focused entrepreneurial activities. They will have access to:

  • Seneca faculty and external community experts/mentors with business and health expertise;
  • recruited volunteer groups to appraise and test the usability of a designed product or service;
  • a specialized Virtual Marketplace and Xchange Portal that will encourage the exchange of information, foster collaboration, house event information, link to important data, track project progress and provide a virtual marketplace for the products and services developed by youth; and
  • the opportunity to apply for seed capital for their start-up business.

Part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs, HELIX is a partnership between Seneca and ventureLAB. It is funded through a $200,000 grant under the On-Campus Entrepreneurship Activities program, a $5 million initiative under the Ontario government’s Youth Jobs Strategy and managed by Ontario Centres of Excellence.

“Ontario Centres of Excellence is pleased to be able to deliver this project as a trusted partner of the Government of Ontario,” said Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO of Ontario Centres of Excellence. “I look forward to putting our years of experience in connecting academia and industry, and our on-going support of young entrepreneurs to good use in making this initiative a tremendous success.”


Youth interested in participating in HELIX and sector representatives interested in mentoring opportunities can contact the HELIX Program at or 416.491.5050 ext. 77907. For more information visit