MRU launches $3.3 million flagship business growth program

June 29, 2022

A donation of $500,000 from TD Bank Group (TD) to Mount Royal University’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, combined with federal and provincial funding, has provided the foundation for the province-wide expansion of the Institute’s Growth Catalyst program plus additional initiatives, which are set to trigger the creation of hundreds of new jobs and deliver millions in economic impact to Alberta over the next few years.

In addition to the TD investment, the Institute has also been successful in funding applications made to both the provincial and federal governments. The Government of Canada, through PrairiesCan, is investing nearly $1.4 million to support the expansion of the Growth Catalyst program, further building on its initial investment of $100,000 in 2020 towards the pilot initiative. Funding of $1.4 million is also being provided through the Alberta Innovates Ecosystem Development Pilot Program.

"Entrepreneurs and their innovative ideas have long been the backbone of Alberta's thriving business community," said Robert Ghazal, TD senior vice-president for branch banking across the Prairie Region.

"Through the TD Ready Commitment, the Bank's corporate citizenship platform, we aim to support programs that create the conditions needed so that everyone has the chance to succeed in our changing world. That's why we're pleased to support the establishment of this business growth centre, which will help bridge gaps for the next generation of entrepreneurs and assist established small- and medium-sized businesses in achieving their full potential. As part of Mount Royal’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, we know these growth programs will play a significant role in driving Alberta's economy towards a more equitable and prosperous future."

Growth Catalyst is a scale-up program targeting established Alberta businesses with ambitions to become world leading. Through extensive research on the drivers of small- and medium-sized (SME) business growth, Dr. Simon Raby, PhD, associate professor of innovation and entrepreneurship and academic director of the Growth Catalyst program, has uncovered seven strategy components that business leaders can deploy to achieve scale. Using these globally proven methodologies and tools, Growth Catalyst enables strategic growth teams to catalyze, and more readily sustain, new episodes of growth. Cross-functional leadership teams embark on a six-month cohort-based integrative journey to reimagine, rediscover and realize big strategic growth opportunities.

Raby says, “TD, and the provincial and federal governments, have recognized the inherent value in many of the business owners and leaders across the province and that we can really support their organizations to grow and develop. A focus on established innovation-driven enterprises and how we help them unlock their growth capacity and capability is key.”

In June, Alberta Innovates announced more than $9.1 million to go to the first 15 projects selected through the Government of Alberta’s Ecosystem Development Pilot Project. Mount Royal will receive $1.4 million over three years.

“We created the (program) to address gaps in the innovation continuum from ideation to commercialization, to reach rural and under-represented populations, and to bring additional specialized knowledge into the system to spur entrepreneurial growth and mindset in every part of the province,” said Laura Kilcrease, CEO, Alberta Innovates.

PrairiesCan is the federal department responsible for diversifying the economy across the Canadian Prairies and works to build a strong, competitive economy by supporting business, innovation and community economic development in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

“Small- and medium-sized businesses are at the heart of Calgary’s economy, which is why our government is providing support to scale up and access the talent they need to innovate and remain competitive,” said the Honourable Daniel Vandal, minister for PrairiesCan. “Our collaboration with Mount Royal University, to expand the Growth Catalyst program, will allow established businesses to benefit from training, mentorship and investment opportunities that are critical to their growth and development, and continue to provide leading-edge learning opportunities for a new generation of post-secondary students and future business leaders.”

Brian Rosentreter is president of Calgary’s Global Analyzer Systems, a high-growth environmental services and equipment fabrication company based in Calgary. One full fiscal year after Rosentreter and members of his team participated in the Growth Catalyst program they reported business growth of approximately 40 per cent, and only a half a year after that they are on track to achieve an additional 35 per cent revenue growth. They have also doubled their staff size from 20 to 40 people with minimal turnover.

The Growth Catalyst program led Global Analyzer Systems to spend more time focusing on the strategic direction of the company, Rosentreter says.

“Our team now has far greater clarity on how to plan for and scale the operation in support of growth initiatives. There's a lot more energy within the company and a growing sense of a collective focus on where we're headed together.”

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Peter Glenn, Senior Media Relations Officer