November 28, 2008
By Mark Ferguson
Photo by Mark Ferguson
At the launch of the Wilson Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence, Brett Wilson himself said, only half jokingly, he’d like to see three classes taught at the U of S for all students – marketing because “you need to market to be successful, ” psychology “so you can understand a few things about your parents, and a few things about marketing,” and the third would be entrepreneurship.
Wilson, a Calgary-based businessman, donated $1 million towards the new centre in the Edwards School of Business. He admitted that finding the right way to give back to the university was difficult. But one meeting with Grant Isaac, dean of the school, was all it took to get the philanthropic ball rolling. He told the audience at the Nov. 17 launch that the centre represents his own vision, and he supports it wholeheartedly.
The breadth of the centre does not stop with just business, he said. Students have the opportunity to draw on the Wilson Centre as entrepreneurship is being offered as a minor in several colleges, including agriculture, arts, and Wilson’s old college, engineering.
The U of S grad has gained celebrity status, thanks to his new role on the Dragon’s Den, a popular CBC television show where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to five ‘dragons’. As part of the launch event, Wilson teamed up with four local ‘dragons’ from the business community to hear ideas from students. The presenters were chosen earlier during a challenge on campus where students pitched their best entrepreneurial ideas.
“The pitches were designed to showcase the multi-disciplinary talents of our students, to show how they have come together,” said Sanjeev Singh, director of the Wilson Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence.
The success of the challenge, called I-cubed, and the momentum from the launch has Singh very excited for what the future will hold for the centre.
“Our job here is to facilitate an environment where action takes place between students and the business community. I want to sit back and watch the fireworks.”