The Next 36 on Lookout for 2013 Cohort of Canada’s Top Student Entrepreneurs

The Next 36 has launched its annual search for the country’s next great business builders.

The program, which seeks to leverage the bright minds of Canada’s young entrepreneurs, is now accepting applications for its 2013 cohort. Interested undergraduates have until October 25 to submit their application to the program, which is championed by the likes of Galen Weston, Paul Desmarais Sr., and Jimmy Pattison.

The Next 36 is being described in the media as “the most intense, hot-house effort to force grow entrepreneurs ever attempted in Canada,” and by students as “more impactful than university.” In less than two years, the program has already won the backing of the presidents of five leading Canadian universities—the University of Toronto, Western University, McGill University, University of Waterloo, and The University of British Columbia—and by a “long list of prominent Canadian business leaders and entrepreneurs.”

Each year, 36 promising undergraduates are selected from a variety of academic disciplines, and from across Canada, through a rigorous national selection process. The young entrepreneurs build a business in the mobile or tablet space together in teams of three. For 8 months they are provided mentorship from some of Canada’s top business leaders, up to $80,000 cash from top venture capitalists, and academic instruction from some of the world’s top faculty.

“We are seeking outstanding undergraduates from across Canada in their third, fourth and/or final year of study, in any academic program,” says Claudia Hepburn, co-founder of The Next 36 and its executive director. “We want innovators and achievers from all backgrounds–individuals who have the desire and potential to build something great.”

This year’s ventures have already had early success, the organization notes, earning recognition and rewards at a number of startup competitions and conferences across North America, The Next 36 says. Last month, PenyoPal was selected the Best Overall 1.0 Startup after launching onstage at Microsoft in Mountain View. PenyoPal was one of eight stealth ventures selected from over 300 and the only Canadian startup given the opportunity to compete.

Jane Wu, a Queen’s University graduate and one of PenyoPal’s co-founders credits The Next 36 with accelerating her development. “I’ve grown so much in such a short amount of time. I’ve learned how to embrace risk and ambiguity and sharpen my eye for opportunities.”