Dec. 15, 2021

Entrepreneurial thinking now embedded on campus, creating more opportunities for students, faculty and the community

Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking marks 4 years at UCalgary
Students interact in the Hunter Hub Collision space prior to the pandemic. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Four years ago, the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking’s Collision Space opened on campus, providing students, faculty, staff and the community a place to develop ideas, find mentors, access resources, and immerse themselves in entrepreneurial thinking and transdisciplinary idea exchange.

A lot has changed over the past four years, including a global pandemic that forced the Hunter Hub to practise what it preached by using an entrepreneurial mindset in everything it did, including outreach, program delivery, and ensuring its virtual impact matched the in-person experience. It also highlighted how community can be built on more than a physical space.

The Hunter Hub launched in 2017 thanks to a transformational gift from the Hunter Family Foundation. After witnessing the impact of the Haskayne School of Business’s Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the Hunter family wanted to enable access to entrepreneurial thinking across campus, regardless of faculty or discipline.

Former University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon, right, joins Dani, Doug, Diane and Derrick Hunter at the launch of the Hunter Hub interim Collision Space in December 2017.

“My mother, Diane, has her master's in sociology (UCalgary BA’67, MA’69), and one of her main objectives was to establish the Hunter Hub not only for business students, but for everyone,” says Derrick Hunter, president and CEO, Bluesky Equities Ltd., MBA’90.

“We are a family of entrepreneurs and we wanted to equip the next generation with an entrepreneurial mindset so they can be prepared to change careers multiple times over.”

The Hunters' dedication to entrepreneurship and the Hunter Hub’s vision to improve lives and economies through entrepreneurial thinking has culminated in a mandate to cultivate and support change-makers, connect and build community, and amplify the stories and impact of our innovators. Sitting at the forefront of the UCalgary Innovation Ecosystem, entrepreneurial thinking teaches resiliency, opportunity recognition, initiative, risk management, problem-solving and transdisciplinary thinking.

“We’ve started walking the talk,” says Keri Damen, executive director of the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking, about using the pandemic to reset its portfolio of programs and expand in new directions to achieve UCalgary’s vision to be the most entrepreneurial university in Canada.

“We were able to bring Calgary-led ingenuity to the national stage, through the Hunter Hub-led $4-million Experience Ventures program,” she says. The new program provides 2,025 paid entrepreneurial thinking placements for students at nine post-secondary institutions across the country.

We used entrepreneurial thinking to create talent solutions that work for social ventures and startups and broadened talent funnels from post-secondary institutions into their greater innovation ecosystems nationally.

The Hunter Hub also transformed and expanded core programming like Launchpad and health innovation program TENET i2c, and launched the Embedded Certificate in Entrepreneurial Thinking campus wide.

The latter is the achievement Hunter is most proud of in the Hunter Hub’s four years on campus. “We now have the ability to offer every single student the opportunity to do a minor in entrepreneurship,” says Hunter. “A foundation built on entrepreneurial thinking will provide students the ability to be agile and versatile long into their careers, regardless of how often their career trajectory may change.”

For Damen, she is most proud of Experience Ventures and the opportunity it creates for both students and startups by encouraging interdisciplinary talent to learn from, and support, innovative ventures in the community.

“Forward looking, the future is bright for the Hunter Hub,” says Damen. “We are excited to bring together the entrepreneurial and innovation community as the world opens up, and continue to be the hub where different disciplines, faculties and communities come together to build ideas, connections, and make a positive impact on our world."

About the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking

Created with a transformational gift from the Hunter Family Foundation in 2017, the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking is UCalgary’s community innovation hub that transforms lives and economies through fostering entrepreneurial thinking in students, faculty and the community. Our mission is to create and support game-changing innovators and accelerate their ideas from conception to impact on society.

The Hunter Hub contributes to the University of Calgary’s strategic vision to be the most entrepreneurial university in Canada.