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The Startup Lab

May 7 - June 11, 2021


The Startup Lab is an innovation event for students looking to accelerate their ideas for sustainable development! Through workshops and mentoring, teams will put their ideas to the test by conducting user interviews, market analyses, and more. At the end of the program, teams will pitch their ideas to a judging panel to share their vision.

Step 1: 


Identify the problem you are addressing and the end user you are targeting.

Step 2: 


Validate your problem by getting out and interviewing your customer.

Step 3: 


Iterate your startup idea based on customer discovery and startup validation.

Step 4: 


Pitch your final startup idea to a team of judges to compete for one of three prizes!


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Customer Discovery

Workshop #1: May 10

Learn how to test assumptions, get to know your customer, and build ideas that matter to people.


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Kill Your Darlings

Workshop #2: May 17

Understand the importance of clarifying your value, making smart pivots and picking the best path forward.



Social Impact

Workshop #3: May 25

Learn about social innovation, sustainable development, and how your startup can make a positive impact on the world.



All teams will be paired with a mentor to assist them in accelerating their startup ideas. Our mentors have experiences as startup founders, business developers, professors, and more!

Teams will receive 30 mins of mentorship per week to gain feedback and insights on their workbooks.


Teams will be provided with a workbook to assist them through the startup validation process.

A finalized workbook will provide student teams with a strong background to apply to future incubator and accelerator programs.


All teams will pitch their final ideas to our team of exceptional judges!


Social Impact


This award is given to the team with the strongest potential for social impact as judged through alignment with a UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

Prize Amount:


Customer Discovery Award

This award is given to the team with the best evidence of customer discovery and most responsive iterations based on customer feedback.

Prize Amount:


Entrepreneurship Award

This award is given to the team with the highest commercialization potential and strongest entrepreneurial spirit.

Prize Amount:


Health Ventures Award

Sponsored by: Michael G. DeGroote Health Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Initiative


This award is given to the team with the highest impact potential in the healthcare space.


Designated Judge

Sarrah Lal, MBA


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Am I eligible to register?


Participants must be attending (full-time or part-time) an Ontario university or college. This includes students in undergraduate, graduate, professional, and diploma programs. Recent alumni (within 1 year of graduation) are also eligible. Teams already accepted into incubator or accelerator programs are not eligible to register. 

Registration is now closed. Stay tuned for upcoming events.

Do I need to have a team to apply?


Yes! Teams of 2 - 5 students are welcome to participate in The Startup Lab. Teams do not need to be from the same institution or program. 

Only one application is required per team.


Do I need to have an idea to apply?


Yes! We encourage students to bring in ideas from past class projects, capstones, hackathons, or personal projects.

Bring in any topic no matter what stage of the process it is in (e.g. idea, basic prototype, fully-functioning prototype, etc). 


All ideas must be focused on sustainable development. Does your idea improve the lives of others? Does it reduce inequalities? Does it contribute to sustainable consumption and production? 

Learn more about sustainable development at:

What experience do I need to have?


None! The Startup Lab is accessible for students with no previous experience with entrepreneurship and innovation.

What is the time commitment?


Each participant is expected to commit 3 - 10+ hours per week. 

At least half of your team is expected to be present at weekly workshops and you will spend at least 30 minutes with your mentor each week. Otherwise, it is up to you and your team to make your way through the innovation workbook!

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