UBC partnership with Creative Destruction Lab aims to help tech start-ups grow

In January 2017, UBC will be partnering with the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) to launch a program that will help early-stage tech startups gain access to advisors and angel investors that will help them grow.

Last year, Paul Cubbon, leader of Creative Destruction Lab West and an instructor in the marketing and behavioural science division of the Sauder School of Business, noticed a group of six Vancouver-area business students travelling back and forth between Vancouver and Toronto multiple times per year. Cubbon looked into it and discovered that they had been travelling to take part in the University of Toronto’s Creative Destruction Lab (CDL)

The nine-month CDL program pairs startup founders with experienced technology entrepreneurs, with the aim of aiding the creation, maintenance and growth of technology-based university start-ups. 

“[CDL is] a seed stage program focused on highly scalable technology ventures ... and a collaborative effort across the university and the broader (business) community,” said Cubbon. 

In the future, the lab will bring in student involvement through new classes that will work in association with the program and its goals.

Six months ago, interested in the program and its potential, Cubbon contacted its founder — UBC alumnus Ajay Agrawal — about the possibility of expanding the program out west. Prior to this, the program was more focused on the eastern provinces, specifically Ontario. In the last six months, Agrawal and Cubbon worked to develop an western base for CDL at UBC.

According to Cubbon, the main goal of the program is to aid and grow technology ventures regardless of what university or region they are from.

“[CDL aims to] build a national program that connects a Canadian growth agenda,” he said. 

UBC's program will build off the model currently used at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.  Four years after its foundation, their program has surpassed its original equity goals and achieved just under a billion dollars in total equity value.

The CDL program will resolve around two tracts — one general and one specialist.

“[The] general tract will have a regional protectorate and [the] specialist tract will have the potential to reach more of a wide range,” said Cubbon. 

The general tract will place a focus on regional startups in and around Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, and will also, to an extent, branch out to the Seattle and Cascade corridor. The specialist tract, on the other hand, will focus on more complex technologies, and will have a national and even international focus.

“[CDL is] a lean program that’s able to layer over existing forums,” said Cubbon. It is this quality that he thinks will eliminate fears of copy-catting or idea theft for any groups who wish to become a part of the program. 

This is because, at the end of the day, Cuddon believes that the most important goal is maximizing the total equity value of the ventures and startups.

The UBC CDL team believe that Vancouver's business sectors growth over the last 20 years have left it ready for a program like CDL, citing that it now attracts major companies such as Microsoft.