Innovation U offers free series to bring entrepreneurial ideas to life

Innovation U offers free series to bring entrepreneurial ideas to life

· The Pulse

Innovate Edmonton and the Edmonton Public Library are teaming up to offer a free four-part series that teaches the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. Designed to help participants develop ideas into pitchable business plans, Innovation U will run from July 7 to Oct. 6, both online and in-person at the Stanley A. Milner library downtown.

Innovate Edmonton's entrepreneurial educators will introduce design thinking, idea generation, business planning, and pitching in classes that build on each other over the next four months, though they can be taken as stand-alone units. There is no enrolment fee for participants, with the associated costs being split between EPL and Innovate Edmonton.

"We've been exploring this collaboration for some time," Innovate Edmonton CEO Catherine Warren told Taproot. "We just thought, (the Milner) is a really great innovation and maker space right here in the heart of our city — what more can we do to contribute to the innovation, life, content, and substance of the library? How can we take that relationship into the work that we're doing?"

Along with developing the course materials, Innovate Edmonton is co-curating a pop-up innovation resource library with EPL "with the latest and greatest innovation books and resources." The pop-up library will be hosted in Innovate Edmonton's downtown office and the office in the Milner library that Warren is occupying as the "innovator in residence" for the duration of this series.

"We've got a lot of creative resources in here," EPL's digital initiatives manager Dan Alfano said of the recently revitalized library, citing not only the library's collection of materials but also its Makerspace, where people can test ideas and prototype designs. "The connection between what Innovate Edmonton is trying to do and the types of things we have in our spaces ... I think they go really well together."

This series is part of EPL's Life Skills classes and is meant for adults, with no previous education requirements. Warren said she is hoping to see people who attend become more attuned to the value and promise of innovation for the community and for their careers, whether they are students or people pivoting to something new in their lives.

"We're also hoping that people who participate in these entry-level innovation programs at the library might eventually roll into our programs at Innovate Edmonton, or into the accelerator programs that we fund," Warren said.

Photo: Innovate Edmonton CEO Catherine Warren has taken on the role of "innovator in residence" at the Edmonton Public Library. (Innovate Edmonton)