March 19, 2018

Calling all student entrepreneurs: Have you heard about Summer Inc.?

Undergrad and grad students with startup ventures encouraged to apply for summer entrepreneurship training program; deadline to apply March 23
Jacob George and Riley Booth chat to guests about Re-able, a robotic elbow device to help stroke patients stretch, move and strengthen their arms, allowing for a better recovery. The team took part in the Summer Inc. program in 2017.

Jacob George and Riley Booth chat to guests; the team took part in the Summer Inc. program in 2017.

Adrian Shellard

For undergrads and grad students who are looking for a way to spend the summer pushing their new venture to the next level, the Summer Incubator Program aka Summer Inc., just might be the perfect fit.

Summer Inc. offers students a unique opportunity to spend May through August working out of the Inc., while they receive valuable support for their new ventures. The program includes access to co-working desk space and mentorship while being supported by special programming throughout the summer months.

Summer Inc. creates an opportunity for students to step outside of the academy and have a positive impact in the community. Some previous ventures that have participated in Summer Inc. include, a crowdfunding site for green initiatives; Enable, an organization that matches people with disabilities and support workers; and Re-able, an app and wearable activity tracker for stroke recovery movement.

"The most valuable aspect of Summer Inc. was the emphasis of connecting with your customers, users and product stakeholders early in the development of your company,” says Riley Booth of Re-able.  “As engineers, we wanted to focus our time on design, but we found meeting with stroke survivors, therapists and clinicians vital in determining our value proposition. This allowed us then to design something we were confident would help our target market.”

“Prototypes, apps and social ventures could all qualify for Summer Inc. It’s about having a great business startup concept,” says Lisa Young, dean of graduate studies. “There isn’t a single mould that students need to fit. Summer Inc. is a place for bold entrepreneurial thinking, where students are supported to realize the full impact of their ideas.”

Summer Inc. is offered through  the Faculty of Graduate Studies and the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking, with funding from the Government of Alberta’s Vision for Innovation in Alberta initiative. Summer Inc. is hosted by Calgary Technology Inc. CTI is offering the Startup Primer, Discover, and Validate workshops to Summer Inc. participants, which will hone skills in opportunity analysis, customer behaviour, and business model validation.

Application deadline is Friday, March 23

The deadline for application is March 23, 2018, so students need to get moving if they want to apply. However, for students that already have a venture started, the application process will be asking them to draw on information that they have likely already compiled.

“The application asks you to explain your venture, and share a lean business model canvas, which covers value proposition, customer info, and cost and revenue details,”  says Joelle Foster, executive director of the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking. “Summer Inc. is an incredible way to kickstart your first venture with expert guidance and training – if you’re eligible, don’t pass up this opportunity!”

“The Inc. required us not only to get out and conduct customer research, but also to organize, summarize and present that research. My ability to condense and then clearly communicate my learnings was regularly challenged, and in particular I saw my skills in developing and delivering presentations grow significantly,” says Booth. “My time at the Inc. was a great learning opportunity and it was definitely an important step in the growth of Re-able.”

Time commitment and eligibility

Students applying for full-time participation must commit to an average of 35 hours per week for 16 weeks (May-August), including the completion of all key program workshops and deliverables.

Up to 12 undergraduate and 12 graduate students will be accepted into the program. The program allows for a maximum of two individuals per team (of which one must be the founder or a co-founder) to apply as full-time participants.

Graduate students currently receiving other scholarship funding should contact the Graduate Scholarship Office at to discuss whether participating in the Summer Incubator Program will impact their current scholarships.

The Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking is the University of Calgary’s new multidisciplinary initiative to engage and immerse students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community in a culture of entrepreneurial thinking, challenging them with a new and bold approach to teaching, learning, discovery and knowledge-sharing.