Starter pack for startups: Ryerson’s learning zones

The DMZ

The DMZ is one of 11 zones at Ryerson. The zones help give students ‘real world’ experience. (Shaian Martin)

Ryerson has 11 learning zones covering everything from business to media. But most people don’t know what zone learning is, what it has to offer or why they should care.

Richard Lachman, the director of zone learning, describes the approach as “experiential learning.” The zones are supposed to provide students with the opportunity to start their own ventures and gain entrepreneurial experience through collaborative work with other students and faculty.  

“It’s Ryerson’s support for this new kind of experiential learning,” said Richard Lachman, the director of zone learning.

The very first zone was the Digital Media Zone — now just called the DMZ — which was launched about six years ago. Since then, ten more zones have been added, most recently the Science Discover Zone, which was announced last week.

Zone learning provides students with the space to starting their own original project or joining one created by another student. Students gain support from the university, mentorship and access to facilities to help them accomplish their entrepreneurial goals.

They also “learn initiative and collaborative skills that employers look for,” added Lachman.

Zone learning is planning a street party on Oct. 6 on Gould Street to familiarize students with the zones.

“We want to do a better job of connecting more students from every faculty,” said Lachman, on why they are having the event.

Here is a preview of what the 10 Zones are, what they do and what they have done.

DMZ (Digital Media Zone)

The Ryerson DMZ is one of Canada’s largest business incubators for up-and-coming tech entrepreneurs. The DMZ helps startups who already have prototypes accelerate their growth. One of the projects they have worked on is Tiny Hearts, an app studio that creates other apps on iPhones and iPads.  

Centre for Urban Energy (CUE)

The Centre for Urban Energy (CUE) is where students with a passion for sustainable energy go to merge their academic backgrounds and develop business ideas. A cool project that they have worked with is Argentum Electronics, a solar energy startup that won $25,000 at the David McFadden Energy Entrepreneur Challenge in May of this year.

Fashion Zone (FZ)

The Fashion Zone promotes and helps entrepreneurs looking to go into the fashion industry. This zone teaches participants how to invent and launch new, innovative companies. One of their graduate startups is House of Formen, a professional makeup line for men.

Design Fabrication Zone (DFZ)

The Design Fabrication Zone is a multidisciplinary program for fabrication and design. At the DFZ, students design and research entrepreneurial ideas. This program provides help with all aspects of making a concept a reality. A cool project to come out of this zone is Joyride, a device that uses Wi-Fi to track stolen bikes.

Transmedia Zone

The Transmedia Zone offers a place for creative innovations in storytelling and media. This program offers support and services not only to students but industry professionals as well. The zone offers their facilities and mentorship to participants. It is also home to *no campfire required, an augmented reality story creator that provides a platform for clients to engage with their audience.

SocialVentures Zone (SVZ)

The SVZ is a program for student entrepreneurs and alumni to develop ideas in the field of social change and turn them into sustainable initiatives. One of the coolest projects to come out of their zone is Soul Roots, an alternative farming practice that allows for the growing of crops on contaminated land.

Launch Zone

The Launch Zone helps students who are looking to go into entrepreneurship and equips them with the necessary skills. Lachman said the Launch Zone is the first stop for students to find out more about zone learning.

Legal Innovation Zone

The Legal Innovation Zone support and develop technologies and solutions that will improve the justice system and legal services. A startup that came out this zone is Law Scout, a platform that provides businesses with pre-vetted lawyers who work online with fixed fees.

Biomedical Zone

The Biomedical Zone is an incubator for biomedical and healthcare ventures in a clinical setting. Their co-development lab pairs students with clinicians, arranges internships for credit and provides volunteer opportunities. One of the zone’s current projects is VivaVax, a project that is using a micro-fluidic technology to create palm sized adhesive that can be applied to the skin.

iBoost Zone

The iBoost Zone helps to lower the financial risks associated with starting a tech based venture, and also aids in the advancement of tech entrepreneurs who are interested in customer service.

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