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– Dhirendra Shukla

The J Herbert Smith Centre (JHSC) for Technology Management and Entrepreneurship was founded in 1988 at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton campus, by the first Canadian CEO of General Electric, Herbert “Herb” Smith. Herb, a Fredericton native, who graduated from UNB Engineering (Electrical Engineering ’32). Herb’s philosophy was that engineers needed a business side to balance their technical. Upon his retirement from GE, he returned to UNB and helped found the J Herbert Smith Centre which would offer a Diploma in Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship to engineering students.

Since its founding the JHSC has expanded to beyond engineering. The Centre is founded upon the ideals of cultivating in students’ new ideas, creative thinking, and an entrepreneurial spirit for careers in the world of technology. These experiential programs teach problem finding, ideation, and problem-solving skills, as well as how to work as part of a team and effectively communicate ideas in a real-world setting. It also requires students to develop plans and apply financial and organizational principles to their projects while being surrounded by faculty, designers, executives and entrepreneurs-in-residence, and members of the business community.

Now more than 3 decades later, JHSC’s academic and outreach programs have burgeoned to 8 programs as well as idea and pitch competitions. The original Diploma in TME is still ongoing and now reaches over 500 students. At the undergraduate level there is a  4th year capstone course which allows student teams to test the commercial viability of a technology idea through market and customer identification, financial analysis and prototype and MVP development. In 2014 JHSC began a one-year Masters in Technology Management and Entrepreneurship (MTME) degree where classroom learning is paired with practical work to develop, validate, prototype and apply an innovative technological or social solution for a problem or opportunity. It requires idea sharing, research, creative action and iterative change. The Centre also houses a Research team of PhD’s and Post-Doctoral Fellows. The research group in partnership with industry, start-ups and community groups, is looking at solutions that utilities need and the new business models that will allow them to survive and thrive. They are advancing an energy-driven future that has human-centered designed products and services that create an environmentally friendly world.

The JHSC also houses two accelerators: The Summer Institute and Energia Ventures. The Summer Institute is focused on the creative economy and has just successfully completed its sixth cohort with six female-led startups completing the 13-week intensive program. During the summer months JHSC opens its doors to aspiring entrepreneurs from both inside and outside UNB who want to explore a business idea they feel has great potential. Energia Ventures (EV) is a three-month intensive program for entrepreneurs with innovative businesses in the energy, smart grid, cleantech, and cybersecurity sectors. EV provides funding, mentoring, and programming to take these businesses to the next stage and will soon be hosting its third cohort of five companies.

JHSC has an active role in helping develop many companies through its programming: Smartskin Technologies, Eigen Innovation, Resson Aerospace, SimpTek Technologies, Stash Energy, Pfera, Beauceron Securities, Koffee Beauty, Potential Motors, Canum Nanomaterials… in fact JHSC has launched over 120 startups in the last decade.

Two additions to the JHSC family of programs are externally facing partnerships with US universities. Firstly, there is Scale Up Atlantic Canada (with Babson College) which is a unique program that helps companies grow and accelerate. It focuses on the three C’s of growth: customers, capacity and cash. Scale Up is just completing its first cohort of 13 companies. I-STEM (with George Washington University) uses a Lean Startup training program to enhance the ability of researchers and graduate students to bring their innovations to market. The first cohort for I-STEM will begin in October.

If you are interested in helping The J Herbert Smith Centre, we are actively recruiting mentors for our incoming Masters and Energia cohorts. Find out more at unb.ca/tme.

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