Dobson Centre receives $3M gift to bolster entrepreneurship at McGill

Dobson Centre offers programming and mentorship that has helped shape and create nearly 1,000 startups — with more than 400 still in development

As the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship plans to scale up its programming, it has announced a new $3-million gift from the John Dobson Foundation to help drive innovation and entrepreneurship at McGill University.

The Dobson Centre provides a launching pad for budding entrepreneurs at McGill. From helping ideas get off the ground to accelerating later-stage startups, the Dobson Centre offers programming and mentorship that has helped shape and create nearly 1,000 startups — with more than 400 still in development.

“The generous support we have received from the John Dobson Foundation will allow the University to continue to lead in the training and development of the next generation of innovative McGill entrepreneurs,” said McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier. “We thank the Foundation for their vision and for helping to bring the Dobson Centre to the next level of success, making it an important force for innovation in Montreal and Quebec.”

Continuation of John Dobson’s legacy

This is the Foundation’s largest gift to the Dobson Centre since its founding over three decades ago. The Foundation donated $2 million to fund the McGill X-1 Accelerator program in 2017.

Chairman of the John Dobson Foundation and CEO of Formula Growth, Randy Kelly, remarked: “The Foundation is honoured to continue its commitment to developing outstanding opportunities for startup founders. We are extremely proud to uphold John Dobson’s legacy of supporting and enriching entrepreneurial endeavours at McGill University.

“Entrepreneurs are innovative, nimble and flexible in their relationship to the marketplace and are always firmly customer focused. Successful entrepreneurs experience higher growth rates and create jobs, something that is especially needed these days.

“We consider this gift an investment in Canada’s next generation of creative and innovative business pioneers,” Kelly continued. “As is described in the second edition of John’s biography Up and to the Right, released on the 60th anniversary of Dobson’s founding of Formula Growth, we undoubtedly learned that out of small acorns, large companies grow.”

President of the Foundation and CFO of Formula Growth, Ari Kiriazidis, added: “As a Foundation that is focused on helping Canadians learn about the power of entrepreneurship, we are proud to continue pushing forward John’s vision for an entrepreneurial Canada, and are very excited to meet the up-and-coming great entrepreneurs coming out of the Dobson Centre.”

The remarkable $3-million gift will help the Dobson Centre continue to foster innovation and strengthen the support for students, faculty and community members interested in entrepreneurship. Specifically, the latest gift from the John Dobson Foundation will support the Centre’s full lineup of programming and the creation of a new permanent physical facility on campus.

Helping rebuild Canada’s economy

In thanking the John Dobson Foundation for its gift, McGill Desautels Faculty of Management Dean Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou says:

“The John Dobson Foundation is a passionate and committed contributor to entrepreneurship and innovation in Canada. Through their extraordinary generosity and philanthropy at this particular time of need, the Foundation will greatly impact the lives of our burgeoning entrepreneurs and help rebuild our nation’s economy.”

Marie Josée Lamothe, Academic Director of the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship, commented: “The Dobson Centre is proud to be creating partnerships across the McGill community with the mission to support and accelerate emerging innovation and scientific discovery stemming from all faculties through the development of entrepreneurship. We are very thankful for the John Dobson Foundation’s gift in helping us accelerate our momentum.”

Creating new jobs since 1988

The McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship was founded in 1988 by the late John Dobson (BCom’64), a known advocate for free enterprise and entrepreneurship. Since then, the Centre has played a central role in advancing entrepreneurial innovation and discovery at McGill with a highly engaged community of over 10,000 members. Its startups have raised over $770 million to date in funding and created nearly 5,900 new jobs.

The Dobson Centre is set to open a new location on Sherbrooke Street in Montreal where it will house flexible, state-of-the-art collaboration spaces and cutting-edge technologies designed to fuel and ignite the entrepreneurial spirit among all members of the McGill community.

The new centre paired with the landmark gift from the John Dobson Foundation will strengthen the culture of entrepreneurship at McGill University.