By Sparsh Sharma
Ryerson University’s innovative Digital Media Zone is going to help them transform their business concepts
Sheldon Levy, president of Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, recently introduced four vibrant Indian students selected for fellowships at the university’s dynamic Digital Media Zone (DMZ) – a hub for collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship. The fellows will have a four-month term to transform their digital ideas into innovative businesses and business solutions.
“I have always believed that great things come from innovation and the sharing of ideas. These fellowships are a wonderful opportunity to bring some of the best, brightest and most entrepreneurial students from India together with Canadian entrepreneurs and innovators to learn, innovate and explore new digital business opportunities together,” said Levy.
Three of the fellows – Sharanya Aiyahna Haridas, Siddharth Kumar Thakur and Celestine Preetham – are from IIT-Madras and G Visweswaran is from the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. Three more fellows have been shortlisted from IIT-Delhi and their names would be announced formally soon (see box 3). The university worked with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to reach out to students at these three top institutes.
Haridas is founder-CEO of Young Folks Media and That’s So Gloss; Thakur is founder of ScanBox, Preetham is founder of TravelNet App and Visweswaran is co-founder and vice president of My IndiEye (see box 2). The fellowships are valued at approximately Rs5,95,000 each (CAD12,500).
“This international fellowship programme is about bringing together global talent to create the innovations of the future, to share and grow the success of the DMZ working model. At Ryerson, we are very excited to offer these opportunities and we cannot wait to see the results,” added Levy.
How were these students selected?
SL: We were looking for students who had a unique, innovative business idea, enabled by digital media that brings commercial or social value. The candidates who met these criteria were then assessed on how unique or innovative their idea was; how feasible it is to develop; is it marketable; and if it will fit in with the collaborative nature of the DMZ.
How are the fellows going to be mentored?
SL: The DMZ will set up space for them; connect them to our internal networks and systems and support them by giving them access to a range of industry experts, who will provide information and advice on business planning, presentations, funding, accounting, patents, intellectual property rights, marketing and more.
Tell us about the DMZ.
SL: Opened in April 2010, Ryerson University’s DMZ is a multi-disciplinary workspace for young start-up companies infused with the energy and resources of downtown Toronto. It’s a place for innovating, collaborating and marketing new products and services, and it’s where commercial enterprises can turn to, for progressive and creative digital solutions. Till date, the DMZ has helped more than 166 innovators to incubate and accelerate 36 start-ups and to launch 61 projects. Fellowships with students from China are going to be announced shortly.
Where did this unique idea of having a DMZ come from?
SL: We know that students and young people are major contributors to the innovation agenda, and their ideas and energy are incredible. At Ryerson, our goal is to keep that talent and energy in Canada, rather than training our young people to work in USA’s Silicon Valley. We created the zone with this idea in mind, to encourage and showcase our emerging talent and to connect students and young alumni with the private and public sector.
About the start-ups:
That’s So Gloss: India’s first web-zine and online community for teen girls and young women
TravelNet: Mobile app and internet-based service that uses GPS and telecom technology to connect ride-seekers, vehicles and traffic control
ScanBox: Web-based service company with a clear focus on simplicity, value creation and great user experience
My IndiEye: Mobile sightseeing platform for travelers
Alok Nikhil Jha – MyMovie: Online movie selection, ticketing, and more
Avnish Gaur – AskMePrice: Product search website based on price, location and other variables
Abhishek Gupta and Saurabh Kumar – Zumbl: Avatar-based, anonymous chat website.