SFU receives $10 million donation to establish new institute for entrepreneurship
Jun 17, 2016
Vega founder Charles Chang makes one of the largest gifts in SFU history.
Simon Fraser University has received a $10 million gift from alumnus Charles Chang, founder of plant-based nutrition company Vega, to establish a new entrepreneurship institute at the Beedie School of Business.
The gift will be used to create the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship, which will inspire innovation and accelerate entrepreneurship at SFU.
A core component of the SFU Innovates strategy, the Institute will build on SFU’s multidisciplinary approach, which offers students from across the University open access to explore entrepreneurship.
A flagship initiative of the new Institute will be the Charles Chang Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This interdisciplinary program allows undergraduate students from any faculty to add innovation and entrepreneurship training to their education.
“This wonderful gift will bolster SFU’s mission to be Canada’s engaged university,” says SFU president Andrew Petter. “Thanks to Charles’ generosity, students from all disciplines will have the opportunity to gain market knowledge and skills, and to learn how to transform their ideas and innovations into businesses and social ventures.”
In recognition of the gift, SFU will name the Charles Chang Innovation Centre, a new facility in Vancouver that will complement SFU’s existing strong presence in the downtown core.
“I believe that entrepreneurship must be multidisciplinary, which is one of the reasons why I connected so well with the Beedie School’s approach,” says Chang. “Entrepreneurship isn’t just about business, it’s actually a mindset. It doesn’t mean you have to create something, it means knowing how to think as an entrepreneur, and asking how you solve a problem.”
A graduate of the Beedie School of Business BBA program, Chang founded Vega in 2001, initially working from his basement. Over the course of fifteen years, he grew the company to employ over 180 people, with sales of more than $100 million per year.
After selling Vega in 2015, he founded Lyra Growth partners, a venture growth equity company that aims to help entrepreneurs succeed.
“We are extremely grateful to Charles for his foresight in investing in tomorrow’s entrepreneurs,” says Ali Dastmalchian, dean of SFU’s Beedie School of Business. “Entrepreneurship skills are increasingly vital in today’s evolving business world. This gift serves as an investment in ensuring that the Beedie School is able to help position Vancouver as a global hub for innovation.”
- SFU Innovates, a university-wide strategy that mobilizes research and leverages student ingenuity to benefit the economy and society.
- SFU’s Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship program is open to all undergraduate students at SFU, and teaches them skills increasingly sought after by employers, such as adaptability, creativity, and teamwork.
- SFU’s existing presence in downtown Vancouver includes the Harbour Centre, the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, the Segal Graduate School of Business, the Wosk Centre for Dialogue, and the Bill Reid Gallery.