Dec. 16, 2022Print | PDF
A new university partnership is providing student entrepreneurs from Wilfrid Laurier University with opportunities to innovate in communities beyond Canadian borders.
Laurier is collaborating with the Business Council of Westchester and Iona University, both in New York, on a plan to transform Westchester County into a hub that attracts and supports innovative companies.
Laurier students will work with students from the Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Iona University to create the Westchester Innovation Network (WIN) Implementation Guide. The guide, due this spring, will include recommendations for elected officials, municipal planners, and business leaders to create an innovation hub in Westchester County to accelerate innovation in the area.
The guide is one element of the Westchester Innovation Network, a multi-dimensional program created by the Business Council of Westchester to attract innovators to the area.
“We’re excited to be involved in this project,” says Laura Allan, director of innovation and entrepreneurship at Laurier and assistant professor in the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Laurier. “It’s a great opportunity for our students to gain an understanding of the needs of innovators and apply their learnings on an international level.”
Student enterprises are also involved with the Westchester Innovation Network’s Match Program, designed to attract innovative companies to Westchester and pair them with local companies to test their products and services in real-world settings.
Last20, co-founded by Lauren Barnes (BBA ‘21), has been matched with Regeneron, a biotechnology company based in Westchester. Last20 upcycles plastic into pavement, diverting it from landfills. Barnes will test her company’s plastic-infused pavement for projects with Regeneron in spring 2023. Last20 partnered with the Yonkers Department of Public Works in spring 2022 to test asphalt made with recycled products.
Earlier this year, the WIN matched Kuponya Innovations, founded by Laurier Political Science student Jordan Prentice, with Murphy Brothers Contracting (MBC) in Auburn, New York, to develop a green insulation prototype using industrial hemp. Through the match program, Prentice has presented at MBC events and networked with MBC contacts to gain feedback on her prototype and applications.
Since the match, Prentice has evolved Kuponya Innovations; the enterprise is now focused on building affordable, sustainable tiny homes to address climate and housing issues in Canada’s North.
Last20 and Kuponya Innovations presented their enterprises at the Westchester Innovation Network’s Showcase event on Nov. 29 in Westchester, New York. The Westchester Innovation Network awarded cash grants to enterprises with products and services of benefit in Westchester County. Last20 received a $5,000 grant to support testing with Renegeron and the Yonkers Housing Authority.