The University of Alberta is a publicly-funded institution. Roughly two-thirds of the University's operating dollars come from Alberta taxpayers. With that funding comes the responsibility to show value to Albertans. Much of that value comes from outstanding undergraduate and graduate degree programs -- educating nearly 40,000 students per year (7,200 in the Faculty of Science). Our students graduate and have impact, whether it be in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, or the world.
Most people think that a University education is all about learning and honing skills. That is true to some extent. However, in the Faculty of Science, we also want to foster creativity, generate ideas, investigate them, and, if it makes sense, capitalize on them. Science, with support from the School of Business, is encouraging students to explore entrepreneurship. This is a skill that is best done by doing; classroom lectures on the subject are useful but have limited pedagogical value. Get some friends together, develop an idea, create a business plan, pitch your idea.... You never know where that might go. And even if you don't end up with a multi-million dollar company, you will have learned a lot in just trying.
"In the Faculty of Science, we want to foster creativity, generate ideas, investigate them, and, if it makes sense, capitalize on them."
This issue of Contours is devoted to entrepreneurship. You can read about successful entrepreneurs, student projects that plant the seeds of entrepreneurship, and initiatives to help improve the chances of entrepreneurial success. In other words, many of the stories in this issue are excellent examples of creating value for Albertans. Whether the companies are small or big, whether they are in areas directly related to the original field of study or not, Faculty of Science graduates are growing their presence in our local economy, creating leading-edge employment opportunities, generating economic returns, and helping build a vibrant community in Edmonton and beyond.
I am pleased to announce that as of the time of this writing we are about to start renovations to create 3000 square feet of space devoted to student entrepreneurship. This space will provide student "companies" with meeting space, access to equipment, educational programs on entrepreneurship, and contact to industry mentors.
Entrepreneurship in science touches all levels of our highly qualified personnel—undergraduate students, graduate students, research assistants, research associates, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty members—and we are proud to support them all in their endeavors to make a difference in their community and in society. I encourage you to read more and to write in to the editor with any success stories you would like to share.