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Students who transform ideas into social impact

Concordia's new incubator CHNGR is on the hunt for budding innovators
September 10, 2015
By J. Latimer

Source: University Communications Services

CHNGR — social innovation at Concordia "Facilitating, networking and finding resources: that’s what we do." A pilot group of seven student innovation ambassadors participated in training this summer. | Photo courtesy of CHNGR

If you’re a student and you have a great idea for a co-operative business, a not-for-profit business or a for-profit social business, you’re in luck. CHNGR — short for “changer” — is here to help connect you to the right resources.

This new project comes via RECODE Concordia, a university initiative funded by the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.

Its mission is to foster innovation, and to stimulate collective and social innovation on campuses across Montreal and beyond, in collaboration with thought leaders and partners from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

CHNGR will be deploying three streams: a project to confer $4,000 in matching grants to 18 student ambassadors from universities and CEGEPs; an online portal to help burgeoning innovators navigate the appropriate resources; and curriculum transformation at Concordia in the field of social innovation.

A pilot group of seven ambassadors — including Concordia student Benjamin Prunty — already participated in a two-day training session this summer. The second CHNGR cohort of student ambassadors is accepting applications until September 20.

“Our goal is to promote collective and social entrepreneurship as a vehicle that can drive positive change forward," says Nicolas Nadeau, project manager for CHNGR.

“Tons of students have really great ideas, and they remain just that — ideas. We want to help these students take these ideas and transform them into positive social impact. Facilitating, networking and finding resources: that’s what we do.”

The CHNGR steering committee is composed of Marguerite Mendell, from Concordia’s Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy; Xavier-Henri Hervé, from the university's District 3 Innovation Center; Nancy Neamtan, from Chantier de l’économie sociale; and Vincent van Schendel, from Territoires innovants en économie sociale et solidaire — TIESS.

District 3 will be a key resource.

“D3 is ready to ramp up its involvement in the social innovation and social impact sphere by coaching and incubating more startups,” says Dylan Hervé, the centre's social entrepreneurship coordinator.

“Our goal is to have 30 per cent of our projects created for this sphere.”

Apply to be a CHNGR ambassador
 until September 20. 

Learn more about District3 from Xavier Herve's TEDxKish talk:  


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