By Rosalie Nardelli, Desautels Faculty of Management
The John Dobson Foundation has announced a donation of $2 million – its largest gift to McGill yet – to fund the McGill X-1 Accelerator program run by the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship. The gift will support the X-1 program, now in its third year, as it grows to support and promote entrepreneurship across McGill.
Ari Kiriazidis, President of the John Dobson Foundation, stated, “the Foundation is delighted to continue Dobson’s long-standing relationship with McGill with what represents one of the largest gifts ever granted by the Foundation’s Board. The Board is extremely proud to be associated with one of the most prestigious universities in Canada through the Dobson Centre and its various programs.”
Randy Kelly, John Dobson’s long-time partner and Chief Executive Officer of Formula Growth, as well as Chairman of the Dobson Foundation, noted, “McGill was always close to John’s heart and he would be very pleased with the continued commitment.”
Launched in 2015, the McGill X-1 Accelerator is an intensive 10-week summer program designed to accelerate the growth of later-stage McGill startups toward investment readiness and launch. The program runs annually from June to August and is open to teams, of which at least one member must have an affiliation to McGill, either as a student, a recent graduate, or a faculty or staff member. This year’s program has accepted eight McGill teams who are building their business on an idea based on technology or science.
The overall curriculum builds upon the MIT startup methodology of Disciplined Entrepreneurship, an integrated and proven framework for developing an innovation-driven product towards launch.
The McGill X-1 Accelerator culminates with a series of Demo Day events in Montreal, Toronto, Boston, New York and San Francisco, where the teams will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to groups of McGill alumni, entrepreneurs and investors.
The donation from the Dobson Foundation comes at a time of crucial development for the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship, which resides in the Desautels Faculty of Management. Dean Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou of Desautels remarks, “Through the vision and generosity of the John Dobson Foundation, the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship is affirmed as the leading hub for entrepreneurship on campus. In classrooms, research labs, and across the University, McGill is full of ideas and talented individuals driven to innovate. Thanks to this donation, the McGill X-1 Accelerator will catalyze our community of innovators and entrepreneurs.”
Prof. Gregory Vit, Director of the McGill Dobson Centre, notes, “The McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship has played a central role in creating young McGill entrepreneurs. Many recent McGill startups have had an important impact on the economies of Montreal and Quebec. This significant gift will ensure that we continue to serve the vibrant entrepreneurship culture at McGill. I’m highly confident that our entrepreneurs, will have a major positive impact on the planet.”
The McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship has grown considerably since its founding in 1988 under the late John Dobson, BCom’64, a known advocate for free enterprise and entrepreneurship. Since then it has become the hub of entrepreneurial activity at McGill, with a mission to identify, teach and develop world-class entrepreneurs through tailored education, applied entrepreneurial frameworks, and iterative mentorship. The Centre has played a central role in advancing entrepreneurial innovation and discovery through its flagship annual startup competition, the McGill Dobson Cup, and other initiatives that have followed, including the McGill X-1 Accelerator. Overall, the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship has offered mentorship to more than 2,200 McGill entrepreneurs, and launched more than 125 successful startups that today employ over 1,200 people and have raised over $100 million in venture funding.