In the summer of 2022, Coast Capital Innovation Centre (CCIC) opened their doors to walk-in traffic at their new location in the Mearns Centre for Learning – McPherson Library. An on-campus venture incubator, CCIC helps entrepreneurs – students, faculty and alumni – get the support and mentorship they seek to take their next idea from conception to execution.

Managed by Director Jerome Etwaroo with Andrea Hayes, Program Manager, and Olena Marun, Program Operations and Communications Coordinator, this small but mighty team has been supporting over 1,500 people from the UVic community since 2016, offering a wide range of services including: advice and mentorship; seed funding; training and workshops; connecting clients to advisors; pitch and business plan competitions; and operational space for new ventures to nearly 200 start-up businesses.

Supporting emerging businesses in the community provides an overall well-being not only to the city and province, but to the planet. The impact of the innovation centre’s work has been impressive over the last six years. Etwaroo points out that they have supported a diversity of sectors and environments including oceans; AI; energy, water and infrastructure; digital platforms and apps; and biotechnology, to only name a few.

The library has also played a significant role in student ventures. Engineering & Science librarian Aditi Gupta and Business librarian Emily Nickerson support student ventures through research consultations for finding resources on patents and market research. They collaborate with the Digital Scholarship Commons (DSC) to provide introductory workshops on library resources for each new cohort of CCIC students.

For instance, Paige Whitehead (BSc ’19) created a 3D prototype in the DSC for her biodegradable, carbon sequestering reusable glow stick that is powered with bioluminescence. Inspired by courses in permaculture design and biotechnology, Paige’s start-up business, Nyoka Design Labs, is now having a positive impact on the environment.

Some of the funded real-world applications are also used in homes, including the Sepura garburator that separates solids from liquids, and provides a clean composting solution; and biodegradable Nature Bee beeswax wraps that use the sweet smell of honey, pine tree resin, and jojoba oil to ensure groceries have a longer life span.

At the recent Tech Community Awards hosted by VIATEC, Etwaroo received The Colin Lennox Award for Technology Champion, honouring his deep commitment and passion to making the world a healthier place to live.

The next time you are at the Mearns – McPherson Library, drop by the Coast Capital Innovation Centre office located in the Learning Commons hallway. Your idea could be the next one they help get off the ground.

The Coast Capital Innovation Centre has been made possible through a partnership between the University of Victoria and the Coast Capital Federal Credit Union. Since 2016, Coast Capital has committed over $1.5 million to support entrepreneurs and innovators at UVic

Written by Lisa Abram