Indigenous Digital Accelerator

Empowering Indigenous entrepreneurs

Launching in 2020, the Indigenous Digital Accelerator (IDA) at Capilano University will help scale up early stage Indigenous companies in Western Canada with high growth, commercialization and innovation potential. Our goal is to help Indigenous entrepreneurs build strong, sustainable businesses that have a positive impact on our communities.

What we offer

To be successful, entrepreneurs need more than a business plan, financial support and a website. Our experienced mentors will work with you to identify the next steps for your business, and provide guidance and support to move forward. During this one-year program, you will receive:

  • $10,000 in base funding
  • Mentorship (business plan development, financial management, fundraising support)
  • Website advice and support
  • Campus office space
  • Student research assistants
  • Summer housing (for entrepreneurs in remote communities)

Businesses we support

Designed to support Indigenous entrepreneurs and companies owned by First Nations bands, the IDA aims to address significant gaps in the participation of Indigenous peoples in the high tech, digital-creative and cultural sectors.

Businesses may be for-profit, not for profit or charities and might include companies involved in digital and creative technology, media production and distribution, language revitalization, virtual and augmented reality and mapping/Geographic Information Systems, as well as more traditional businesses that need assistance with digitization and online platform development. Business will have existing customers and sales, community support and be poised for growth.

Our mentors

You will be matched with experienced mentors from the Indigenous and non-Indigenous business community, as well as Elders and Indigenous advocates who will be there with you every step of the way. Below are just a few of our seasoned mentors.

Duncan Kennedy

From Prince George B.C., Duncan Kennedy is of Métis descent. He began his career at Apple in Cupertino where he managed the QuickTime product line, Apple's multimedia architecture and the foundation of modern digital video. During his time there, he worked with the team on the first webcast of the Grammys and the Sundance Film Festival. More recently Duncan has founded or taken a senior management role in several U.S. and Canadian startups including Tribeworks, Thwapr, Audio Explosion, AWE, Mobifest, Debriefly, wot.io and Signoto. He graduated from the University of British Columbia.

Shane Kennedy

Shane Kennedy is President of Lone Pine Media Productions and Company's Coming Publishing, one of the largest general trade book publishers in Canada. Shane has been in book publishing for more than 40 years, 35 in the current company. He has written over 30 books, many of which have become bestsellers. He has made films in New Guinea, the Amazon, the high Arctic, Borneo, the Dairen rainforest, Easter Island and the Andes. Shane has Aboriginal heritage and was a co-founder of the Aboriginal Publishers Association of Canada.

Doreen ManuelDoreen Manuel (Secwepemc/Ktunaxa) is the director of the Bosa Centre for Film and Animation at Capilano University. She is the first Indigenous woman to direct a major film centre in Canada and to hold a position on the board of directors of Knowledge Network. She holds many advisory positions with industry organizations and major industry funders. She was the 2019 Woman of the Year for Women in Film and TV Vancouver and is the recipient of the Leadership in Education award and many other film industry and education leadership awards both provincially and nationally. Doreen has worked on television and film productions in a wide variety of roles, and as a news reporter and producer of corporate video. She comes from a long line of oral historians and factual story gatherers and is the daughter of renowned international leader, the late George Manuel and spiritual leader Marceline Manuel.

Bradley Shende

A communications professional and award-winning creative technologist, Bradley Shende has created sustainable and transformational projects merging technology and human systems. As a technology analyst, he has reached a global audience, advised Fortune 500 companies and mentored young innovators at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Launch Academy and the Centre for Digital Media. Never shy of an ambitious project or social justice challenge, he has co-founded startups, campaigns, charities, think tanks and his first and proudest "real startup" as a father of three kids.

Tom Williams Born and raised in Victoria, B.C., Tom Williams is an angel investor in more than 30 companies and is one of the most active investors in funding early-stage Canadian startups. A serial innovator whose proudest professional accomplishments include helping pioneer modern-day crowdfunding, Williams has a legacy of investing in and creating world changing ideas and organizations.

Indigenous Digital Accelerator signing
In-residence Elder Ernest George, Shane Kennedy, Jonathan Wilkinson, Doreen Manuel, Paul Dangerfield, Ted Gervan

Our partners

Western Economic Diversification Canada logo

For more than 30 years, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) has been working to diversify the western economy while improving the quality of life of western Canadians. WD aims to be a leader in building a strong, competitive West by focusing on business development, innovation and community development.

Indigenext logo

Indigenext is an established Indigenous business accelerator that blends the processes of business acceleration with the Indigenous entrepreneurial skill-set and unique relationship of land and community. They help connect the vision of growth and community balance with opportunities, partners, mentors, and investors.

Frequently asked questions

A business accelerator is a program that helps developing companies build strong sustainable businesses by providing mentorship, funding and other support.

Accelerators are for companies that are already established, but need mentorship and support to build momentum and get to the next level.

The Indigenous Digital Accelerator was designed for Indigenous companies in the high tech, digital-creative and cultural sectors including film, television, games and digital media; however, it's also appropriate for more traditional companies that want to add a digital component such as a website or e-commerce platform to their business model.

The Indigenous Digital Accelerator will connect Indigenous entrepreneurs to CapU students who are interested in gaining work experience during practicums, internships, co-op work terms and summer employment. Students will be available to help entrepreneurs with research and other tasks.

Capilano University is committed to Truth and Reconciliation, and helping Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities grow and thrive.

Ready to take your business to the next level?

Find out if the Indigenous Digital Accelerator is right for you. Our team will walk you through how the program works, how to apply and what you will get out of the experience.

Call: 604 983 7549
Email: ida@capilanou.ca