Olds College student wins $20,000 TEC Venture prize

Projects & Partners

We currently have several ongoing entrepreneurial projects and partners, including:

  • District Ventures
  • ATREK Fund Success
  • Spirit of Entrepreneurship App
  • Student Entrepreneur Club
  • Enactus
  • Rural eHub
  • Catapult

District Ventures

Olds College is the title sponsor for Arlene Dickinson’s new business accelerator, District Ventures. While most business accelerators focus on the technology and energy industries, District Ventures will provide support to entrepreneurs in the consumer-packaged goods (CPG) industry, with a focus on entrepreneurs in the food and beverage and health and wellness sectors. District Ventures is the first accelerator of its kind in Canada.

As an outcomes based institution, Olds College has identified Entrepreneurship as one of our Centres of Specialization. Olds College’s culture finds great affinity with entrepreneurs. Aligning ourselves with this accelerator, and tenacious entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson, will propel our efforts forward. We are proud to be contributing meaningfully to the advancement of District Ventures, and the entrepreneurs we meet along the way.

Supporting District Ventures has not only supported local entrepreneurs, but has also allowed for Olds College students to gain valuable experience by working with these emerging businesses to gain insight, experience, and expertise in the business world.

District Ventures


The ATREK Fund gives Olds College students and small local businesses the opportunity to explore and evaluate new business ideas. Too often ideas get stuck in developing the prototype; through lack of funding, resources, or mentorship, great ideas can be lost. The ATREK Fund helps budding entrepreneurs through this stage by giving internal grants up to $5,000 for access to Olds College expertise, facilities and equipment for up to 6 months. Through the ATREK Fund new entrepreneurs can quickly decide if the idea or project is worth further effort.

ATREK Fund Success

Often innovation and ideas come from the environment around us, and Olds College brewing student, Alex Villeneuve is no exception, Alex noticed the large amounts of spent grain, a waste byproduct from the brewing industry, that was created and started thinking about ways to upcycle it.

Alex had an idea; if he added mushroom mycelium to spent grain, would he be able to grow gourmet mushrooms?

Alex applied to the ATREK Fund and began working with the Olds College Centre for Innovation (OCCI) to test his hypothesis and has been successfully growing gourmet mushrooms since.  

“Traditionally, spent grains used in the production of beer have been looked upon as a waste by product. My research and work has been focused on finding ways to efficiently use this waste in the production of new food products. In addition to helping me to establish my processes and giving me insight into the scientific side of things, partnering with OCCI has given me the opportunity to learn about how to start up and operate this business. The support of Olds College has been crucial to getting the company off the ground.”

Alex Villeneuve, Ceres Solutions Ltd.

Photo of Alex courtesy of Mountain View Publishing | Noel West

Student Entrepreneurship Club

The Olds College Entrepreneurship Club is a place for entrepreneurial minded students to meet and explore opportunities, have access to resources, and attend upcoming events. In the past, our students have taken part in a variety of events including demo days.

We can work with students and emerging entrepreneurs to provide support in beginning their new businesses. We can help you to determine if entrepreneurship is right for you, and how to get started.

Not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurship, along with great opportunity and excitement this journey can be hard and stressful. Before you jump in, do some self assessment to see if this is the next move for you. You can find one here or in unit one of the Spirit of Entrepreneurship worksheets, which can be found here; these worksheets will lead you through a self evaluation on your four capital factors; human, psychological, sociological, and financial. It will show you areas that you are strong and areas you might need some help, including:

  • idea generation
  • business plans
  • finding financing
  • and more!

Idea Generation

If you like the idea of being an entrepreneur, but don't have an idea for your future business, there are lots of tools to help you out. The second unit in the Spirit of Entrepreneurship will help you get creative and guide you through the process of idea generation, you can find them here.

Business Plans

A business plan is an essential part of starting a business, it creates a future plan for your company that outlines your goals and how you are going to achieve them, as well as looking see opportunities and challenges, as well as mitigate risk, and helps to increase your chances of success. A business plan consists of:

  • A Company Profile: Who are you and what is your company about
  • Market Research: Knowing and understanding your customer
  • Sales & Marketing: How are you going to target and reach your customers
  • Operations: What does it take to start your business and how will you keep your customers
  • Financials: Is this venture profitable and sustainable

There are many great business plan templates. Work through the other worksheets from the Spirit of Entrepreneurship to start building your business plan, click here to get to the rest of the worksheets.


There are many options when it comes to financing your new startup, from friends and family, to loans, as well as grants. Here are a few options:

  • Futurpreneur: Old College works closely with Futurpreneur to help aspiring entrepreneurs with mentorship and financing. If you are between 18 and 39, Futurpreneur can help you receive up to $45,000 in collateral-free financing. Find out more here.
  • Alberta Innovates Technology Futures: The Micro-Voucher, Voucher and Product Demonstration Programs (PDP) support early to late stage technology and knowledge-driven SMEs operating in Alberta towards advancing technology readiness. Depending on their needs, eligible companies can apply for funding ranging from $0 up to $300,000 to help cover the costs in hiring third-party services and/or equipment for the purpose of business and technology development.

Other Resources

Starting your own company can be hard, but having a support system will help tremendously. Groups like Catapultand the Central Alberta Regional Innovation Network (CARIN) provide great support for entrepreneurs.    

Enactus Olds College

This year Olds College is starting an Enactus team. Enactus is global organization that uses entrepreneurial thinking to solve global issues.  This year the Olds College Enactus team is looking at cutting down the environmental footprint in the brewing industry. You can keep up to date with our Enactus project on our Facebook page.

Learn More

Rural eHub

Rural eHub is a program out of the University of Alberta that helps rural students apply the necessary elbow grease and financial help to secure early wins that underpin success.Rural eHub support students from all over Alberta as they travel along the entrepreneurial learning curve.


Catapult Entrepreneurs is a business incubator and accelerator serving Central Alberta. We provide support to entrepreneurs who have a new business or innovation and want help developing their idea.