First entrepreneurship camp for children at SFU sparks surprising business ideas

An automatic sensor for overheating ovens and a novel way to capture a rear view of teeth were among the new business suggestions that came out of PowerPlay Academy, a week-long entrepreneurship and innovation summer camp for children in Grades four to seven that was held at SFU’s Surrey campus July 10-15.  

The organizer, PowerPlay Strategies, partnered with SFU’s Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection to host multiple events celebrating children’s creativity in solving real-world problems. Powerplay Academy is a follow up of Powerplay Pitch, an elementary school entrepreneurship competition that also took place at SFU’s Surrey campus.

With support from a generous donation by the Charles and Eve Chang Foundation, all competitors were funded to attend Powerplay Academy.  

“We were so impressed by the creativity and inventiveness of this group," says program creator Bill Roche. "We wanted to give the graduates of PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurship® a chance to take their entrepreneurial skills to the next level."

Throughout the week, students learned about important aspects of entrepreneurship, including business models, pitching, and networking, and discoverd the key strengths and skills needed to create a well-rounded business team.  

For the camp’s capstone project, students were asked to visualize solutions for some of the daily problems facing cities. Student teams' solutions included charcoal water filters for recycled water, automatic turn-off sensors for overheating stoves, and a toothbrush with a camera affixed for a rear view of teeth.

Among the judges were SFU alumnus Matias Marquez, founder of Buyatab and former client of SFU Venture Connection, and Kristine Garrucho, econometrics and research analyst at the City of Surrey.  

“We’re happy to support the next generation of change makers” says Peter Payne, co-associate director of Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection. “I was really impressed by the material covered and knowledge gained by the students in such a short time span. It’s good for young entrepreneurs to understand that a strong local startup ecosystem exists to support them now and in future years.”