Focus On

Law firm supports student entrepreneurs with cash and legal services

Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 1:11 PM | By Carolyn Gruske

A Toronto law firm is sponsoring a prize for York University entrepreneurship students.

The Aird & Berlis StartupSource Market Entry Award will give $12,500 in cash and the same amount in legal services to the young, start-up firm that best demonstrates the progress of its business and its ability to go to market. As the name suggests, the award is sponsored by Aird & Berlis LLP and by one of its partners, Randy Williamson.

The entrepreneurs vying for award are part of York's LaunchYU entrepreneurship unit, which put students through 20 weeks of training in the LaunchYU AccelerateUP program. Participants who went through this process then pitched their venture ideas to an audience of business executives, investors and government officials. The top three placed firms earned $5,000 each and the opportunity to compete for the grand prize, which will be awarded in Jan. 2018.

Aird & Berlis has committed to sponsoring the LaunchYU program over the next four years and is expected to contribute $100,000 during that time.

“Our firm’s StartupSource Group is focused on the success of the next set of Canada’s great companies, helping them organize themselves, and their investor and other partner relationships,” Williamson said.  “We also help them leverage and protect those relationships and their valuable intellectual assets. We believe that the companies coming out of York University’s LaunchYU programs could be among those great Canadian successes, and we are delighted to support them in getting there.”

In addition to his work with Aird & Berlis, Williamson is a member of York University’s Board of Governors and chairs York’s Alumni Board, its Pension Board of Trustees and its Endowment Fund’s Investment Committee. He is an alumnus of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School.