The Met Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurship (MICE) launched in September 2018 and was designed for young people who have a passion for developing and creating startups that are innovative in nature and (generally) founded in tech. The program, developed by Maples Met School, is a response to students who wanted to develop their own ventures and connect with mentors who not only had technical skills but also an expertise in the design and implementation process of a business.
MICE has partnered with North Forge Technology Exchange to help facilitate greater learning. Students are paired with entrepreneurs in the same field of interest and attend internships every Tuesday. At these internship experiences, learners hone in on the necessary skills to develop their startup. “We were thrilled when presented with the opportunity to mentor Ufoma, a student from MICE,” said Suzanne Braun, Managing Director at Relish New Brand Experience. “Our development team works with him in our office, one day each week as he develops his own app from the ground up. This experience has been rewarding for our entire office and it’s been exciting to watch Ufoma’s progress.”
On Thursdays, students attend sessions with North Forge mentors where they update the group on their progress and are introduced to key contacts in the startup community. Learners also engage in weekly online learning modules on entrepreneurship, which provide the learners with a grounding in the literature and theoretical foundations of entrepreneurship.
As part of the program, students are also receiving training with InVision Edge, working towards Blue Belt Certification in Innovation Engineering to help them innovate faster and more successfully for the rest of their lives.
When asked how the idea of MICE came to be, Matt Henderson, Assistant Superintendent for the Seven Oaks School Division says much of it had to do with perfect timing. “It was interesting how Jeff and I were thinking the same idea independently. We managed to connect at the right time when we both realized that youth need a program where they are fully engaged in authentic startups while learning critical human and technical skills in a rapidly changing world of work,” says Henderson.
Currently, the young people in the program are working on startups that centre around autonomous robotics, app development and social enterprise.
“I am blown away by the confidence that our learners have developed and how they have matured in terms of their design thinking,” says Henderson. “They are all able to clearly articulate their ideas with passion and clarity.”
Jeff Ryzner echo’s this sentiment and looks to the future when it comes to the potential of students and the province as a whole. “The students have exceeded my expectations in their creativity, work ethic and commitment to bring new ideas to the world,” says Ryzner. “It is this type of education I wish was available to me when I went through school. I can’t help but wonder how different our province would be in a few years if every student had the option to study and practice innovation in high school.”