News release

Sandboxes Encourage Innovation, Entrepreneurship

NOTE: A brief description of each sandbox can be found at the end of this release.

Innovative and entrepreneurial Nova Scotians will soon have places where they can experiment with new ideas and access business mentors, investors and other support.

Universities, the Nova Scotia Community College, and the province have come together to create four sandboxes where students, innovators and industry can develop new ideas that could become businesses.

Premier Stephen McNeil announced the sandboxes details today, March 19.

"Nova Scotians have what it takes to come together, be more creative, and take more chances, and sandboxes will help with all of those things," said Premier McNeil. "Encouraging innovation is fundamental to the change our province needs, and Nova Scotia's first sandboxes will be a great addition to innovation and entrepreneurship in our province and beyond."

Sandboxes are based on successful approaches used at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Waterloo. Guitar Hero and the E-ink used for Kindle and Kobo e-readers were conceived in the MIT Media Lab.

The sandboxes are:

  • the Island Sandbox: Cape Breton University and NSCC Marconi Campus
  • the Community Sandbox: Saint Mary's University, NSCAD University, and Mount Saint Vincent University
  • the Nova Scotia Agriculture Sandbox: Dalhousie University and Acadia University
  • the ICT Sandbox: Dalhousie University, Saint Mary's University, NSCAD University and Volta Labs

Each sandbox will offer a combination of academic programming and entrepreneurial, professional and management resources.

"Today's researchers, students and big thinkers are tomorrow's entrepreneurs," said Jevon MacDonald, co-founder of Volta Labs and GoInstant. "Sandboxes are a welcome addition to how we can help create more startup founders here in Nova Scotia. "It's really encouraging to see that the entrepreneurs of today, and tomorrow, have more support in place to help them take their ideas to the next level."

Group ATN Consultants has been hired as project managers and will oversee the sandboxes' development and management. They will also help design competitions to recognize the most promising sandbox ideas.

The province will provide each sandbox with $150,000 per year for up to three years. Sandboxes are then expected to sustain themselves.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Innovative and entrepreneurial Nova Scotians will soon have places where they can experiment with new ideas and access business mentors, investors and other support.

Universities, the Nova Scotia Community College, and the province have come together to create four sandboxes where students, innovators and industry can develop new ideas that could become businesses.

Premier Stephen McNeil says Nova Scotia's first sandboxes will be a great addition to innovation and entrepreneurship in our province and beyond.

The Island Sandbox pairs Cape Breton University and NSCC Marconi Campus; the Community Sandbox will team Saint Mary's, NSCAD and Mount Saint Vincent universities; the Nova Scotia Agriculture Sandbox will be Dalhousie and Acadia universities and the ICT Sandbox is Dalhousie, Saint Mary's and NSCAD universities, and Volta Labs.

The province will provide each sandbox with 150-thousand-dollars per year for up to three years.

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Media Contact:

Chrissy Matheson
902-424-0281 Cell: 902-219-3121 E-mail:

The following are descriptions of the sandboxes:

The Island Sandbox, a partnership between Cape Breton University and the NSCC Marconi Campus, will focus on clean technology, social entrepreneurship, and new Canadian entrepreneurship. It will offer a creative atmosphere that supports potential entrepreneurs, offers opportunities to develop ideas, and results in the development of new and innovative concepts.

The Community Sandbox brings Saint Mary's, NSCAD and Mount Saint Vincent universities together, and will connect students with the larger community, from entrepreneurs to innovators, and build on existing partnerships to create an entrepreneurial environment. The Community Sandbox will support students as their ideas become pitches and prototypes, and then businesses.

The Nova Scotia Agriculture Sandbox is a partnership between Dalhousie's Agricultural Campus and Acadia University, and will connect with local chambers of commerce and the Perennia Innovation Centre. It will support innovation in modern agriculture, a high-technology industry that requires expertise in areas from bio-technology to precision engineering to computer and environmental sciences.

The ICT Sandbox brings Dalhousie, Saint Mary's and NSCAD universities together with Volta Labs. They'll develop a pre-accelerator space that will capitalize on Nova Scotia's growing information and communications technology industry. It will encourage students to connect with business and industry partners to develop ideas for new products and solutions for real world problems.