Written by Sean Mullin
As first announced earlier this year, this award was created in honour of former Ryerson President, Sheldon Levy, and his wife, Tracy, whose support for fostering students – and nurturing their entrepreneurial ideas – was a critical component of Ryerson’s transition to an innovation-driven university.

Created in partnership with Ryerson’s Zone Learning Network, the program aspires to engage, support and mentor students in entrepreneurship, and to give ambitious youth a head start with guidance and capital that they might not otherwise have access to.

Last week, the founding cohort of the program was selected among Ryerson University’s brightest young innovators and entrepreneurs. Each student pitched their ideas for a spot in the Fellowship, with great enthusiasm and hopefulness.

Empowering Canada’s young people and inspiring them to become changemakers, innovators and entrepreneurs is a key ingredient to Canada’s economic success. Who better to secure the country’s future than our next generation?

Youth are entering a tough job market, and it is no exaggeration that advancing technology is quickly supplementing – and in many cases, replacing – entry-level jobs. Our recent report, Future-proof: Preparing young Canadians for the future of work, found that to thrive in today’s rapidly changing workforce, Canada’s young people need to be equipped with a specialized set of technical and soft skills. At the top of the list? Entrepreneurial abilities, such as managing uncertainty and taking risks.

We extend our thanks to the remarkable judges for the pitch competition, including Natasha Campagna, Manager of Sandbox by DMZ, and Valerie Fox, Chief Innovation Consultant at The Pivotal Point.

The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship wholeheartedly congratulates the founding cohort of the Sheldon and Tracy Levy Aspiring Innovators Fellows Program. We wish all of the new Fellows success throughout the program and beyond!

Introducing the Sheldon and Tracy Levy Aspiring Innovators Fellows

Dara Jarallah
Dara is in the early stages of building Shoppinglee, a platform to help female artisans from around the world sell their products to earn a living wage.

Lakshmi Menon
Lakshmi is a co-founder of StackFarm, an innovative system to grow organic leafy greens in vertical, modular and soil-less units with a circulating watering system that wastes no water.

Lisa Cumming
Lisa founded Radio Reboot, a 360-degree sound system that surrounds the listener and places them into a story with innovative production techniques.

Lucas Bruno
Lucas founded GIMME360, where he has already seen great traction with clientele in need of augmented and virtual reality services.

Mark Zaidi
Mark is investigating innovative methods to synthesize aerogel, a thermal insulator used between window panes. Currently, aerogel synthesis is very expensive, not environmentally friendly, and fragile to handle.

Each Fellow will receive $5,000 in funding as well as access to Basecamp, an opportunity for lunch with Sheldon and Tracy Levy, and other VIP events. We are excited to support this program, and have committed to funding five Fellows per year for the next 10 years.

For more details, please visit the Sheldon and Tracy Levy Aspiring Innovators Fellows Program page.

Sean Mullin
Executive Director

For media enquiries, please contact Coralie D’Souza, Director of Communications, Events + Community Relations at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship.