Cassels Brock Pitch Competition

Cassels Brock Pitch Competition
Thursday, September 27, 2018 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm

OCAD U CO and Imagination Catalyst would like to invite you to our new office space at Daniels Waterfront: City of the Arts to participate in our
7th annual Cassels Brock Pitch Competition.

The competition will showcase new startups founded by OCAD U alumni who will compete for $5000 in start-up funding.

The event runs from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM in our new innovation campus space at Daniels Waterfront: City of the Arts building at 130 Queens Quay East and Lower Jarvis.


Venue & Address: 
Daniels Waterfront: City of The Arts. 130 Queens Quay East M5A 3Y5 Toronto, Ontario
416-977-6000 x4258
New Waterfront innovation campus


Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Students from the Entrepreneurship & Social Innovation class are looking for help raising awareness of the importance of mental health by hosting a unique and immersive Yoga event, that aims to help students de-stress during a busy time of the school year. You are invited to participate!

This Yoga class is suitable for all levels and also includes snacks and raffle prizes. The class integrates projection lighting and music inspired by the calming qualities of the ocean.

6:00 PM to 7:00 PM

7:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Pay what you can

All proceeds go to OCAD U's Health & Wellness Centre


Tickets available online: 

Venue & Address: 
Black Box, 49 McCaul Street
CALM BEFORE THE STORM photo of person doing yoga on the beach

2017 Manning Innovation Symposium

2017 Manning Innovation Symposium Poster
Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 11:00am to 2:00pm

Join us at the Symposium, to hear from and mingle with six innovators – four Manning Laureates and two OCAD U innovators. Their brief and dynamic presentations about their pathways to innovation will be followed by a complimentary lunch and a ‘speed innovating’ experience where you can connect one-on-one with these inspiring innovators and more.

For 36 years, the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation has been creating a culture of innovation in Canada by discovering, encouraging and rewarding Canadian innovators and telling their stories. Manning Laureates’ innovations are commercially viable and touch all areas of human endeavour.


On-site registration will begin at 11:00am.

The Symposium will begin at 11:30am.


To register please click here.

Follow us on Facebook here.

Venue & Address: 
The Great Hall 100 McCaul Street, Room 270 Toronto, Ontario M5T 1W1
416-977-6000 x4782

Apply to GDES-4007: Social Enterprise Catalyst

Got an idea for a business, social enterprise, or project with a positive social impact? All third- and fourth-year students are welcome to apply to this course!

Teaching creative entrepreneurs about the business of social innovation

Studying the whys, wherefores and how-tos of business is not what first leaps to mind when one imagines post-secondary education in art and design. OCAD University’s Alia Weston, however, believes understanding business history and practices can be a powerful asset for emerging artists and designers: “Equipping our students with business skills that will enable them to be more sustainable and resilient as they forge careers in the creative economy is the foundation of my work as an educator.”

An assistant professor of creative business enterprise in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies, Weston is motivated, in part, by a desire to share those “things I wish I had been taught when I was pursuing my own undergraduate studies.” Weston explains: “After I completed my BA in silversmithing, jewellery and allied crafts at the Sir John Cass School of Art and Design, I realized that, while I had gained design skills and qualifications and sold my work as a practising jeweller, I didn’t know anything about how to start a business, especially in such a highly competitive place as London.” In order to acquire that knowledge, Weston undertook a master’s in business studies at Kingston University, where she found herself drawn to alternative businesses and micro-economies. Weston stayed on at Kingston to cap off her formal studies with a cross-disciplinary PhD, focusing on creativity in the “informal economy” during the 2000s crisis in her home country of Zimbabwe.

Informed engagement

At OCAD U since 2014, Weston combines her ongoing work as a professional jeweller and her scholarly research on business, creativity and social impact, to design and deliver courses that empower students “to engage with business in a more informed manner.” Weston regards knowledge of business practices and strategies as “essential” for creative people. Art and design graduates, she says, “need to be able to make a living and flourish in society – that’s where entrepreneurship skills are invaluable. On the other side of the coin is learning about social responsibility and mission-driven business.”

Weston’s convictions have taken flight in OCAD U’s Minor in Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation. Co-designed and co-directed with Sarah Tranum, an assistant professor of social innovation design, the program began in September 2015. Open to students pursuing any major, it has proven highly appealing, with both core courses – SOSC 2004: Business, Leadership and Social Innovation and SOSC 3010 Creative Economies – fully enrolled.                             

In the classroom, Weston emphasizes hands-on experiences. “My courses all have a collaborative and experiential dimension,” she says. “I try to get my students to carry out work that is as practically relevant as possible. I therefore incorporate a range of formats and activities, including experiential projects, seminars, industry engagement, visiting speakers, student presentations and real-world business research and analysis.”


Elastic Effect

Elastic effect: Here, students took the most inspiring amount to initiative, and sold refreshments in the lobby of 100 McCaul St. to fund an art exhibition/ networking event that was the main event for their assignment. Their social mission was to give other students the opportunity to exhibit their work and network with local businesses.


O-POP Art Fair

O-POP Art Fair: here, students' social mission was to give a platform for other students to sell their work, they got loads of people to attend the event in 49 McCaul St.



Heartlines: A selfcare colouring book made with artwork from students at OCAD U, and sold to raise money for the health and wellness centre at OCAD U.


Beyond her teaching, Weston expands opportunities for students to learn about and engage in business and social innovation through her leadership of the university’s Impact Economy Research Hub — an arm of the Impact Collective, which she co-directs with Zev Farber of the Centre for Emerging Artists and Designers. A notable Impact Collective project is the extended success of the Art Works! Video, which has been newly commissioned by CBC Arts as an online series and showcases how OCAD U community members use art and design to create dialogue about social change.

Good business

For Weston, business education at an art and design university pivots on helping students develop “transferable” skills. These include collaboration, research and analysis, and critical reflection — “acknowledging both the successes and limitations of knowledge and practice.”

“I also want to challenge the view that business and economic practices are fundamentally exploitative, harmful and unethical.” While that is sometimes the case, Weston accepts, what matters most is how one does business. Shedding light on this concept, Weston cites Caitlynn Fairbarns (Photography 2015) who drew on what she learned in Weston’s Entrepreneurship course to turn her final-year thesis project into a mission-driven enterprise that generates income by publishing zines, selling artwork and running community events while demystifying gender stereotypes in fan culture. “As Fairbarns’ Fake Geek Girls Like Us publishing platform shows, business can be extremely beneficial and socially innovative. It can, for instance, promote community values and development while also being economically sustainable. That’s the message I hope I’m able to communicate to my students.”


Morgan Holmes is a writer and editor based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His main areas of expertise are post-secondary education, the arts, and health care. When he's not wrangling words, Morgan enjoys making a racket on the Great Highland bagpipes.

*all images are from Weston's entrepreneurship class
Morgan Holmes

Dr Alia Fortune Weston

Alia Fortune Weston is an Associate Professor of Creative and Business Enterprise. Through her research and practice Alia explores the intersection of business, creativity and social change. She takes a critical theory perspective to question dominant research paradigms and redefine how we understand knowledge; exploring themes such as critical business practice, economic sociology, creative work in resource constraints,community empowerment and innovation, and experiential food methodology.

Grind Sociables

The Grind logo with arrow pointing up
Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

The Grind sociables is a weekly event where we encourage students, faculty and alumni from the OCAD U community to join our weekly roundtable discussions. We focus on a different theme each week as we build meaningful connections, share knowledge and ideas, and demystify what it means to be a social entrepreneur. 

Venue & Address: 
That Place on the Second Floor (100 McCaul Street)

Aging 2.0 #30in30in30 | Toronto Pitch Event

Monday, September 28, 2015 - 9:30pm to Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - 12:30am

#30in30in30 is an initiative supported by Aging 2.0 to encourage local communities around the world to host pitch events for new innovative products and services that stand to improve the lives of older adults. We are taking part in Aging 2.0's plan to host 30 Pitch Events in 30 cities around the world in 30 days.

5:30 – 6:00 Drinks & Networking
6:00 – 6:15 Welcome & Aging2.0 Introduction
6:15 – 6:30 Keynote Speech (Dr. Alex Mihailidis, AGE-WELL Scientific Director)
6:30 – 6:50 Round 1: Startup Pitches (3 Minutes Each)
6:50 – 7:20 Networking5:30 – 6:00 Drinks & Networking
7:20 – 7:40 Round 2: Startup Pitches (3 Minutes Each)
7:40 – 8:00 Senior Guest Designated Q&A
8:00 – 8:30 Audience Voting, Networking, Winner Announcement & Wrap Up

HOST: Mike King, Aging2.0 Toronto Ambassador

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University, 100 McCaul Street The Great Hall 2nd Floor

OCAD U receives $250,000 to develop Art & Design Social Innovation Zone

Friday, November 7, 2014 - 5:00am

(Toronto—November 6, 2014) The McConnell Family Foundation has selected OCAD University (OCAD U) to be a recipient of the RECODE Catalyst fund, dedicated to activating social innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education across Canada. 

RECODE provides social innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities to college and university students, so that they may become drivers of progress and change.

RECODE will:

  • Support the development of campus-level social innovation and social entrepreneurship ‘zones’, along with business, community and public sector partners.
  • Operate a national challenge and collaboration platform open to all post-secondary faculty and students in Canada.
  • Advance society’s ability to address social and environmental challenges through collaboration and innovation across disciplines, sectors and institutions.

OCAD U’s new Art & Design Social Innovation Zone will launch student-centred social entrepreneurship programs spearheaded by the Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers and through the curriculum via entrepreneurship courses. It will do so in conjunction with OCAD U’s Digital Media Research & Innovation Institute’s expansion of social innovation research capacity. Programming will include partnerships with OCAD University’s commercialization hub, the Imagination Catalyst, and build a network of community partners. This network will explore system models for mobilization, positive change-entrepreneurship, learning opportunities and participatory engagement processes — with the goal of uncovering untapped ideas, interests, resources and opportunities; and establishing programs and services needed to drive social innovation and launch social enterprises.

“It is an honour to receive this grant from the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation to benefit and serve our students, and network of partners, and to be part of this remarkable platform dedicated to catalyzing social innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education across Canada,” said Monica Contreras, Director, Digital Media Research & Innovation Institute. “OCAD University will expand its role as an adaptive change agency and a hub of creative social enterprises ready to tackle society’s greatest challenges.”

To learn more about the initiative please visit or join the conversation on Facebook (LetsRECODE) and Twitter @LetsRECODE #LetsRECODE.

About the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation
The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation is a private philanthropic organization based in Montréal that supports Canadians in building a more innovative, inclusive, sustainable and resilient society. For more information, please visit:

OCAD University launches Imagination Catalyst, led by entrepreneur Steve Billinger

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - 6:15pm

*UPDATE: April 26, 2013:
Petra Kassun-Mutch appointed Executive Director of Imagination Catalyst

Learn more about the Imagination Catalyst

(Toronto—February 28, 2012) Ontario's innovation economy gets a major injection of talent and support this week with the announcement of OCAD University's Imagination Catalyst, a student and alumni-centred entrepreneurship and innovation incubator/accelerator designed to aggregate OCAD U's existing innovation, research and commercialization activities.

The Imagination Catalyst is led by Canadian/British designer, technologist and entrepreneur Steve Billinger, with over 20 years experience in digital media, strategy and business development in Canada, the UK and US. He joins OCAD U as Executive Director, Business Development & Innovation this month.

The Imagination Catalyst gears up OCAD University's student innovation through two streams: by placing students and alumni and their inventions in receptor industries and by supporting the efforts of graduating students, recent graduates and faculty members in forming new companies.

The Imagination Catalyst will strengthen and integrate OCAD University's current and future industry collaborations with faculty and students in applied research and commercialization. The Imagination Catalyst will ensure that faculty research reaches appropriate markets.

Steve Billinger brings to the role unparalleled senior experience in both traditional and digital media where he has successfully incubated, launched and marketed new products, services, divisions and companies with the likes of Microsoft (MSN), News Corp (BSkyB), Bell, Cookie Jar Entertainment and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). He is supported by an advisory council of extraordinary leaders from the investment community.

"Through the Imagination Catalyst, students and recent graduates will engage in experiential learning while contributing to productivity, the integration of design, digital media, creative thinking and design capability across key verticals of the Ontario economy," said OCAD U President, Dr. Sara Diamond. "We're fortunate to be able to pair Steve's expertise with our talented and highly motivated students and alumni. Under his guidance, they will be able to hone their entrepreneurial skills while receiving unprecedented access to private sector partners and our expanding mentorship network."

OCAD University's emerging inventors and entrepreneurs are eager to attain support for ongoing innovation and commercialization of their ideas through licensing, work experience or company formation. Strategic companies and investors can connect and gain access to this window on new product ideas and talent. OCAD University's Imagination Catalyst will act as a feeder lane to commercial incubators that can further assist the inventors. Through the Catalyst, OCAD U will make further measurable contributions to economic gain in the forms of GDP and job creation in Ontario and Canada while building strong ties to the university and alumni.

OCAD University (OCAD U): 135 Years of Imagination
OCAD University ( is Canada’s “University of the Imagination.” The university, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians. 


OCAD University's Imagination Catalyst
OCAD University's Imagination Catalyst fosters experiential learning opportunities, creates a vehicle for young entrepreneurs and creative business start-ups, including the acceleration of commercialization ideas from applied academic research, coordinates university-Industry research and development collaborations across key economic drivers in digital media, and provides networking opportunities for entrepreneurs.

It consists of a series of work space hot desks, project offices and digital studio spaces with access to high-speed infrastructure, production, testing and prototyping facilities that form part of the Digital Media Research and Innovation Institute.

The Product Development track provides matchmaking and IP transfer services between OCAD University talent and small and medium enterprises, and Canadian and international strategic companies. The primary role of this stream of the Catalyst is to assist with patenting or copyrighting the product or service, providing brand development advice and prototyping support if needed, then helping to place the product with a company, assisting in the negotiation of IP, resulting in payment to the student or alumni. This will also result in student and alumni hires by companies, helping to meet the Catalyst's job creation quota.

The Company Formation track provides company formation for the inventions and individuals where a start-up is appropriate. Products or services that appear to be substantive innovations that could be the basis of a successful company will be placed in this track, and the incubator will assist with patenting or copyrighting inventions, providing all manner of business formation advice, brand development, business plan development, and prototyping support with assistance from faculty and students. The Catalyst will provide a mentor for the company, help to publicize it, match the company with appropriate angel, super angel or venture capital funds and supervise the development of the company until it is independent. Companies may remain as part of the Imagination Catalyst through stages of development depending on their performance.

The Imagination Catalyst builds on OCAD U's existing capacity by aggregating existing incubator and accelerators - OCAD U's Digital Futures Accelerator, Mobile Experience Innovation Centre, and Design Incubator - under one physical and virtual umbrella, to form a dynamic commercialization and knowledge transfer environment. The Imagination Catalyst integrates OCAD University's strong collaboration with small and medium enterprises and strategic industries, affording unparalleled access to our faculty and student talent. Imagination Catalyst participants will be able to access OCAD University's excellent laboratories, studio facilities and faculty support.

  • OCAD U's Digital Futures Accelerator is aligned with the university's Digital Futures initiative, and supports product development in tangible and wearable computing, embedded systems, games, screen-based media, social media, mobile content, inclusive design products and data visualization.
  • The Mobile Experience Innovation Centre (MEIC) and its incubator form a not-for-profit organization with its own Board of Directors, housed at OCAD University. The MEIC provides support to the Imagination Catalyst for inventions and emerging companies situated in the spectrum of mobile technologies
  • OCAD U's Design Incubator supports all manner of design innovations across a wide range of technologies, grounded in the university's programs in Industrial Design, Environmental Design, Material Art and Design, and multi-platform communication design.

Steve Billinger
In his previous appointment as General Manager, Digital Programming and Business Development at the CBC, Steve Billinger was responsible for all aspects of the growth, revenue and development of CBC's digital programming and services, while fostering business development and partnership opportunities for all CBC network radio and television. He was also responsible for strategic planning (including ventures, mergers and acquisition); production and operations of all CBC's digital programming and services, as well as revenue responsibility for CBC's digital specialty channels and the international sales of all programming and archival material.

He has also provided strategic planning and business and product development consultation to leading corporations internationally, such as TVO, Digeo, BCE, PBS, the BBC and Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, as well as government and regulators such as the CRTC and the United Kingdom's Department of Culture's Future Media Inquiry Group and the Independent Television Commission.

Billinger has extensive experience of the media and technology landscape in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, having worked for platform and software/ middleware providers, as well as content originators, media companies and distributors in these countries.

As a writer, producer or director he received a BAFTA nomination for best Children's Documentary, a Prix Europa Nomination and a Recommendation for the Japan Prize. He was awarded the prestigious Royal Television Society Award for Innovation and received an RTS Nomination for an innovative graphic history of the crisis in Bosnia.

Billinger has been an Evaluator/Lead Advisor of business models and deals for projects seeking funding with the Bell New Media Fund, as well as acted as a mentor for start-up technology companies on business and strategic development as part of the Banff Centre's Interactive Project Lab Accelerator program in conjunction with Bell Globemedia's Content Innovation Network, the American Film Institute, Vortex (part of The International Film Festival Rotterdam). He held a similar role with the Ontario Media Development Corporation and the Canadian Film Center's Interactive Project Lab.

He has delivered keynote addresses on digital media at Banff, NextMedia, the Canadian Director's Guild, iMix, the Edinburgh Television Festival, MILIA, the UK Television Show, Periodical Publishers Association, Financial Times Conferences, the Rotterdam Film Festival and the World Summit on Programming for Children. Billinger is also listed in Business Age magazine's Hall of Fame for his contribution to the UK digital market sector. He was also part of the Department of Culture's Future Media Inquiry Group established by the UK Secretary of State.

Finally, Billinger has provided master classes on digital strategy, business and product development to the American Film Institute, PBS, the BBC and the Directors Guild of Canada. He also wrote a regular column on television and digital media for New Media Age in the United Kingdom and Variety in the United States, as well as features on technology for children for Today's Parent magazine.

OCAD  University's Academic Programs
The Imagination Catalyst is possible because of OCAD University's disciplinary and interdisciplinary strength in design, art and digital media learning. OCAD University programs support student learners to become entrepreneurial and research leaders in a future world of design thinking, artistic creativity, ubiquitous digital technology and communication, as well as enabling them to master contemporary creative skills.

OCAD University is home to undergraduate programs in Industrial Design, Environmental Design, Advertising, Material Art and Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Integrated Media, visual arts and the Digital Futures Initiative. Minors, a major, a suite of graduate programs and continuing education offerings are providing learning opportunities in digital art, media and design, and ICT, linking this knowledge to emerging technologies with applications in fields such as art/design and science, sustainability, health and wellness, accessibility, diversity, and global innovation and business development. OCAD University offers graduate programs in Strategic Foresight and Innovation; Digital Media; Inclusive Design; Curatorial and Critical Practice; Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design; Advertising and Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories.

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Download this release as a PDF document.

Imagination Catalyst Inquiries:
Petra Kassun-Mutch, Executive Director
416-977-6000 Ext. 4589.

Media Inquiries:
Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416-977-6000 Ext. 327 (mobile Ext. 1327)