Ontario has made remarkable strides in the last few years toward turning its resource-based economy into a hotbed of innovation. All levels of governments have made commitments to supporting people interested in starting businesses and turning their ideas into growing companies.

But how do we inspire people to start businesses in the first place? Ideally, it should start with young people. We need to let people know from a young age that they have the power to turn their ideas into successful ventures, and that entrepreneurship is a viable career option.

This week MaRS accepted 18 high school students aged 13 to 15 into the inaugural session of its entrepreneurship boot camp for teens, slated to run from July 23 to 27, 2012. The MaRS Future Leaders Summer program received applications from across Toronto for this week-long opportunity to be mentored by some of Toronto’s brightest entrepreneurs.

These 18 students will invent and test an original business idea and take part in engaging activities that will help them build skills for future success. Some of these skills include:

  • Talking to potential customers and getting feedback on their business idea
  • Creating a 30-second infomercial to communicate and market their product
  • Getting business cards printed with their company name and job title
  • Delivering a 60-second pitch presentation to potential investors
  • Giving an elevator pitch to experienced entrepreneurs for timely feedback

The structure of the Future Leaders program reflects the successful MaRS model of pairing new entrepreneurs with business leaders who are experienced in starting and growing successful companies. Some of the entrepreneurs who will be on hand to guide our students include:

We’re eager to see these young people explore their ideas and, hopefully, join the next generation of successful business owners.

Watch this space for more information and mark your calendars for Friday, July 27 at 3:00 p.m. for a 60-second pitch competition exploring the business ideas of future leaders!

Joseph Wilson

Joseph was an education advisor at MaRS Discovery District. He writes on topics of science, culture and city issues for NOW Magazine, the Globe and Mail, Spacing and Yonge Street. He is the Executive Director of the Treehouse Group, dedicated to fostering innovation by hosting cross-disciplinary events. See more…