As one of the top 10 emerging tech markets in North America, London has seen astonishing development in tech and innovation in the past few years. This achievement is supported by the significant talent that comes into this city through our prestigious educational institutions. Leveraging this talent for new ideas and real market solutions has been made easier for growing businesses and busy founders. Working together, TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario and Western University launched a Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) program; in partnership with the Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER), and with support from the Government of Canada. During the 2022-2023 academic year, three growing TechAlliance businesses participated in WIL opportunities.
Proof Line Farm is a family business based out of North London raising dairy and beef cows, chickens for fresh eggs, pumpkin, corn, and other crops. With the rising trends in buying locally and a demand for agritourism experiences, the owners saw an underlying opportunity to bring a creamery and farm market to Londoners as another way of staying competitive and reaching their customers. This venture was paired with the Geography of Tourism class to research competitors and find marketing ideas to build a regional brand around Proof Line’s agritourism experience. “The students brought a global perspective which was tremendously informative for us. There were so many things that we would not have come across on our own. That was a huge win for us,” says Steve Mcnaughton, Co-Owner of Proof Line Farm.
It was a flexible program and it fit very well with what we were looking for.
Another TechAlliance venture part of this program was Reya Health, a digital platform for personalized birth control planning to help users find the right option for themselves. Being near the launch of their app, founder Dallas Barnes knew they needed as much information as possible about their target market and their customer journey. Looking for an opportunity to find different perspectives, Barnes worked with Marketing Research students. “The program was a great way to give back to the industry and engage with the educational institutes. It was also amazing to see the talent out there and see the ways in which they like to engage with the industry after their graduation,” shares Barnes.
I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is exploring creative ways to solve an issue.
With the aim to find similar answers, Wilma Technologies Ltd., participated in a WIL opportunity with a course called ‘Research Methods for the Digital Age.’ Wilma is North America’s first ride-hailing membership-based app for women and gender diverse people. “The opportunity [to participate in WIL] came to us through our partnership with TechAlliance. Being a startup with limited resources, we wanted the right marketing strategies in place for London,” shares Terri Phipps, CEO and Co-Founder of Wilma Technologies Ltd. Phipps and the Wilma team heard pitches from students’ groups sharing their vision for how to build a trusted brand, and effectively communicate their app to the London student population.
With a successful end to this year’s WIL opportunities, TechAlliance’s Project Manager, Taylor Bentley, shares their highlights of working and collaborating with Western University and other venture partners on this project, “Whether you are developing software, serving consumers, or pursuing corporate innovation, working with students helps businesses serve their markets and grow.”
For more information on this program, visit http://www.experience.uwo.ca/students/industryprojects.html