VIU Students Incubating Ideas at SquareOne

VIU Digital Media Studies student Aaron Morin (left) has benefited from the connections he’s made in Nanaimo’s tech community at SquareOne. He joined her by SquareOne Community Manager Kelsey Wulff.

October 26, 2015 - 2:15pm

Students from Vancouver Island University (VIU) are taking entrepreneurial ventures to the next stage at SquareOne, Nanaimo’s downtown tech incubator and co-working hub.

SquareOne – an initiative of Nanaimo Economic Development and Innovation Island –  and VIU announced a new partnership in May offering three no-cost co-op desks to VIU students. Since then four students have taken advantage of the opportunity, while a dozen more have made applications, says Kelsey Wolff, SquareOne Community Manager.

“We’re hoping to build more partnerships with students at VIU to use the space, getting the creators, innovators and educators in town together to support budding entrepreneurs and develop more opportunities,” she says.

VIU student Aaron Morin has been enjoying the collaborative and creative environment at SquareOne, and benefiting from connections he’s making to the region’s tech community.

A fourth year student in the Digital Media Studies program, Morin first heard about SquareOne through his employer at Browse Lab in Nanoose Bay. When he learned about the free desk space for VIU students, he applied with an intention to create a film about Nanaimo’s tech industry, and also to work on a digital version of VIU’s literary journal, Portal magazine.

“There’s a huge disconnect between students coming out of university programs – business, and digital media creation, for example – and the people actually doing it for a living, so anything to connect and bridge that gap is something that I’d like to be part of, or start myself,” Morin said.

Mendel Grant is another student who has taken advantage of the free SquareOne co-op desks, which she says come with a supportive network of people.

A student in the Master of Business Administration program, Grant applied to SquareOne to support the development of her virtual personal fitness training business.

“My fellow SquareOne tenants are pretty techie people. They've been providing me with trustworthy contacts to outsource to and advice on what I should be paying for things,” says Grant. “They've given good, trustworthy advice, and that's worth a lot.”

Omar Karim is another MBA student who has spent time at SquareOne. As the founder of VIU’s MBA Society, Karim spent time developing contacts and connections to support the first BC MBA Games, held in Nanaimo Oct. 16-18. VIU hosted 110 competitors from five BC universities, and held one of the competitive case study events at SquareOne.

Wolff is hoping to see more VIU students take advantage of the free co-op workspaces at SquareOne, which include desk, chair, file cabinet, wireless and hardwired Internet service. There’s also access to printing, scanning, fax and meeting rooms, as well as support from reception and a community manager.

“You never know where entrepreneurs are going to come from, and where ideas will spark,” Wolff says. “We have a good community that is supportive and collaborative in the space, and welcome VIU student applicants, to see if they’re a good fit for it.”

Students interested in applying for the SquareOne co-op desks can apply at, noting their status as a VIU student.


Media Contact

Shari Bishop Bowes, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P:250.740.6443  C: 250.618.1535 E: T: @viunews

Tags: In the Community

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