I have an idea for an innovation

A female student looks at a PC while other students gather around

Just as the longest of journeys begin with a single step, the most impactful innovations begin with an idea. The question is how to bring that idea to life – what resources are available to make dreams into reality? Fortunately, there are many options available, even for innovations that are at the nascent stage.

Often in the beginning, it is more important to get the right advice on whether the idea is truly viable or if some changes might be necessary. For technology-based concepts, an excellent starting point would be to consult with one of the Technological Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (TechEiR). The TechEiRs are experienced entrepreneurs who have built and sold businesses several times. They operate drop-in hours during which they are available for one-on-one consultations. Their insights can help guide fledgling businesses.

Seed Funding

Some innovators may be further along with their ideas, and are ready to develop a prototype or test of their product of their product or service. But developing a sample takes money. There are several avenues available to obtain seed money for an idea with commercial potential. These include:

Entrepreneurship Programs

As an institute of higher learning, McGill offers several academic options that provide classroom-based instruction on the entrepreneurial aspect of innovation. The following are some of the programs that are offered:

Frequently Asked Questions

If I develop a business idea while a student at McGill, who owns it?

You do. McGill respects the rights of all inventors, and we can help you protect your idea through patent applications. However, some ideas take place while under the direction of a Professor, and as a supervisor, they have a right to know what is taking place in their lab or research area. Nevertheless, you should be confident that your ideas are protected by University policy and by the law.

What supports are available to beginning entrepreneurs?

Check the Innovation Map for an overview of what supports are available within McGill. There are also many programs available across Montreal to help new businesses. These include: District 3, Centech, TandemLaunch, Quartier d’Innovation, Founder Fuel and many others. A good starting point would be PME MTL.

What is the difference between a startup and a spin-off?

In general terms, a start-up is a company that is launched independently of any other business. A spin-off, however, emerges from an existing business or institution. McGill University further distinguishes between them with the following definition: a spin-off is created from technology that has been developed and licensed from McGill. A startup does not use technology licensed from the institution.

What is a business plan and why do I need one now?

A business plan is a document that fully describes the commercial application of your invention, how it will be produced, and where it will be sold. Although you may not be ready to actually produce anything at the moment, a business plan is an essential tool to help investors become interested in your business, as it can help convince them of the validity of your concept. You can get support for creating a business plan in a number of places, but perhaps the best place to start would be talking to an entrepreneur-in-residence.

I love innovating but don’t like pitching my ideas in front of an audience. What can I do?

Find someone who does! Although innovation and entrepreneurship may seem like individual activities, they are really done best in a team. And the most successful teams are ones where the skills of its members complement one another. There are many ways to find team members, but a good place to do that would be one of the various innovation events.


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