SFU launches new downtown graduate residences and innovation centre

Sep 27, 2016

Simon Fraser University has opened the Charles Chang Innovation Centre, a new graduate student residence and innovation facility in downtown Vancouver.

The building is named after SFU Beedie School of Business alumnus Charles Chang, who earlier this year donated $10 million to SFU to establish the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship, which will support innovation and accelerate entrepreneurship throughout the university.

It has 52 fully furnished rooms with space for up to 68 graduate students from across Canada and internationally.

The second floor of the building is a social innovation and technology hub that will educate, accelerate, and connect students and community working to build innovative and entrepreneurial solutions that address social challenges.

The innovation floor is the new home of RADIUS (Radical Ideas, Useful to Society), the Beedie School of Business’ social innovation lab and venture incubator.

RADIUS supports the education and development of SFU students and social innovators at all stages of their career, through four core program areas:

  • RADIUS Ventures accelerates high potential social ventures working on societal and/or environmental challenges.
  • RADIUS Lab builds deep partnerships with community to understand complex socio-economic challenges and to develop, test and launch new interventions.
  • RADIUS Fellowship is an annual, cohort-based development program for B.C.’s top emerging social economy leaders.
  • RADIUS is also a key driver of the social innovation pillar of the SFU Innovates strategy, supporting and collaborating with other social innovation programs and initiatives across SFU.

The innovation floor will also host Invention to Innovation: Beedie’s Graduate Certificate in Science and Technology Commercialization. This new program empowers scientists and engineers from SFU and UBC with the management skills to make their inventions a commercial success.

The first cohort of the Certificate graduates this fall, with ventures such as clean tech, mobility aids, and eye testing devices already benefitting from the program. The program’s second cohort started in September.

In addition, interdisciplinary undergraduate innovation courses will be run in the space, such as the Charles Chang Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and ChangeLab, an in-depth experiential course run in conjunction with other SFU faculties such as Environment and Health.

The ground floor of the Charles Chang Innovation Centre will be occupied by a café, offering an exciting new concept in bringing communities together over coffee. The café is operated by a third party and will open later this year.


“This exciting new building expands SFU’s presence in downtown Vancouver, and strengthens our commitment to be Canada’s engaged university,” says SFU president Andrew Petter. “It enables SFU to further benefit the community by fostering social innovation and entrepreneurship, and by contributing to the development of a diverse and talented workforce in the region.”

“Thanks to Charles’ generosity, students from across Canada and beyond will have the opportunity to live within the downtown core and study at SFU,” says Ali Dastmalchian, dean of SFU’s Beedie School of Business. “Furthermore, the centre will develop leading edge technology and social ventures tackling some of society’s and the technology industry’s most pressing challenges.”

“I am excited to be able to partner with my alma mater, SFU, to do something that will meaningfully impact people’s lives for the better,” says Charles Chang, SFU Beedie alumnus and founder of plant-based nutrition company Vega. “I look forward to seeing how this new downtown space supports the creation of new ventures and innovations in our community.”

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