Entrepreneurship: Starting it up

Under the umbrella of Navigate – a joint entrepreneurship centre of Grenfell Campus and College of the North Atlantic-Corner Brook Campus – the Navigate Makerspace and Incubator have seen increasing amounts of traffic from both schools and the wider community since they opened last fall.

“The spaces have been central in the organization and hosting of events related to developing entrepreneurial skills, and spreading a culture of entrepreneurship in general,” said Ken Carter, director of the Grenfell Office of Engagement.

A makerspace is defined as a collaborative, community-based workspace stocked with tools and materials for people to experiment and create new things. Although there are many variations of makerspaces, the key concepts include collaboration, community and creativity. An incubator is a place to nurture, support and expand business start-ups. As with makerspaces, incubators take on many forms and functions depending on the needs of the local entrepreneurial community.

Maria Kilfoil, manager of Navigate’s Makerspace

Since September 2018, the spaces have held more than 20 events and presentations throughout western Newfoundland – everything from Pitches and Pints events to Start-ups to DIY sessions – connecting with a total of about 1,500 people.

Meanwhile, the overarching Navigate Centre has allowed both Grenfell and CNA-Corner Brook to provide entrepreneurship education, one-on-one business start-up support, networking opportunities and business related resources. Navigate clients cover a wide range of areas: a sushi restaurant, a tourism/B&B operation, a realtor and a forest management and planning company, just to name a few.

“We need to create a receptive attitude toward entrepreneurship,” said Sean St. George, manager of Navigate. “We’ve lost more than 20 per cent of our business community in western Newfoundland in the last 20 years. We’ve been losing our population and people have been shutting down businesses because they don’t see the entrepreneurial potential for the future. There’s a big need to promote entrepreneurship because government and big business can’t employ all of our citizens. We need people to create their own work. Our communities need people to think differently.”