The Wilson Centre was established in 2007 with a $1 million gift from entrepreneur & philanthropist, W. Brett Wilson, a University of Saskatchewan alum. The Centre was founded as a partnership with the University of Saskatchewan to promote entrepreneurship among all disciplines. In 2010, W. Brett Wilson pledged another $1 million towards the continuation of Wilson Centre activities, with the new gift commencing in September 2011.
Wilson Centre Expansion
In the summer of 2015, the Wilson Centre expanded from their 252square foot office in the Edwards School of Business to 4,200 square feet of space in the Concourse Building at Innovation Place. This new space was designed to function as an ‘Idea Lab’ with opportunities for new hands-on, experiential learning programs, sessions and events.
Why The Change?
While helping entrepreneurs at the Wilson Centre with building ideas and creating sustainable businesses, we noticed a few fundamental things tended to be missing from some of the ideas coming in. First, a large portion of the ideas that we were coaching needed some work to ensure there was adequate demand for the product. Furthermore, problem definition was also missing from understanding why the product was in demand and how it matched today's market.
In observing this and simply listening to our own ‘customers’,our own participants seem to lack quality ideas that had a strong foundation to move forward, while others didn't yet have any ideas to pursue, although they were interested in entrepreneurship. We came to the realization that we were expecting people to already have brilliant innovations and big ideas, when the majority of our potential audience still needed help creating these ideas in the first place or even the opportunity to try learning how to come up with an idea. This made us think - what if we took everything back a step and came up with methods to teach individuals HOW to come up with ideas?
We don’t claim to be experts on the concept of idea-building, but for us, nothing is more rewarding then helping individuals push the boundaries and think outside of the box. We love being a part of the beginning of stages, watching people as their perspectives begin to fundamentally change and they have those lightbulb moments where they realise what they need to create. We love to encourage creativity and innovation, to help participants be outside of their comfort zone.Over time, our focus has shifted to not only help early stage entrepreneurs take their ideas to the next step, but to facilitate the formation & development of viable new ideas from the ground up. With this in mind, we’ve been working to create a culture of innovative thinkers, with opportunities for the community to generate, explore, and test new ideas. We use a process called Design Thinking to help with idea creation and we have thoroughly enjoyed seeing it take shape and watching ideas come to life from it.