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Western University grad donates $10M to help future entrepreneurs develop their ideas

Ronald D. Schmeichel Building for Entrepreneurship and Innovation rendering.
Ronald D. Schmeichel Building for Entrepreneurship and Innovation rendering. Supplied by Western University

Entrepreneurial education at Western University is getting a boost in funding with the donation of $10 million from Canadian entrepreneur Ron Schmeichel.

The money announced during a news conference Wednesday will help create the Ronald D. Schmeichel Building for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“This space will help students from all academic disciplines come together around a common belief: when you invite ideas, enthusiasm and skills to come together, you create and build innovation,” said Schmeichel.

“This is more than a building. This is a place where tomorrow’s entrepreneurs will cultivate their entrepreneurial spirit, whether they’re in engineering, music, journalism, law, medicine, science, business or the arts.”

Schmeichel graduated from Western’s law school and co-founded JJR Private Capital, a private capital firm specializing in equity and credit investments to emerging and mid-market companies in Canada and the United States.

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He said getting the opportunity to take business classes at Western helped inspire his interest in becoming an entrepreneur.

Ron Schmeichel donating $10 million dollars to Western Univeristy to help create the Ronald D. Schmeichel Building for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. May 25, 2022. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

Read more: Western University gets $5.5 million to expand programs for young entrepreneurs

Since graduating, Schmeichel has come back to teach and speak to students about starting his own business.

“I absolutely love this school. It changed my trajectory and my business life. Graduating from the law school, going out and taking risks, learning judgment, and being with such great other classmates and students.”

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Western president Alan Shepard said the money will help inspire students from other faculties with innovative ideas.

“(I am) quite thrilled with the university’s decisions to roll out entrepreneurship sort of horizontally across the institution, so everybody who’s got this passion will have a shot at it, will have an opportunity,” he said.

Part of the $10 million will help establish an award and mentorship program for promising entrepreneurial students.

Western computer science and business student Youssef Gendy. May 25, 2022. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

Western computer science and business student Youssef Gendy said the new building is a big deal for future students exploring entrepreneurship.

Read more: Ivey Business School welcomes first group of Ukrainian students fleeing war to London Ont.

“Being able to collaborate with students and just have a physical building is really important in that sense. It is that somewhere you can go to kind of, you know, be around other entrepreneurs. You see truly the investment that Western’s making, not only in the building itself but also in other entrepreneurial programs,” Gendy said.

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The 100,000-square-foot building will be located in the heart of the campus and will be Western’s first net-zero energy building with a state-of-the-art, active learning classroom; a maker space equipped with 3D printers, metalworking, machinery and woodworking tools; and a digital lab.

“Not every faculty has access to high-quality collaborative rooms. A lot of people don’t even know how to navigate certain things that this building will be offering. For example, like a wood shop or the spaces that are usually reserved for engineers, now you’ll be able to at least see it, and maybe you can start to learn it more easily, and who knows, maybe new businesses will come from that,” Gendy said.

The university expects the construction of the new building to finish in the fall of 2023.

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