'Immeasurable impact'

Woodward family donates $1.13 million to empower student entrepreneurs


Members of the Woodward family with Dr. Isabelle
Dostaler, far left, and Dr. Gary Kachanoski, far right.

Oct. 27, 2017

The family of the late Dr. Melvin Woodward has donated $1.13 million to Memorial’s Faculty of Business Administration to help existing and aspiring student entrepreneurs develop their innovative business ideas.

The donation comes from Peter, Melvin and Tana Woodward in memory of their father, Dr. Woodward, a respected business owner who founded Woodward Group of Companies.

Mel Woodward Cup

The funds will be distributed through the Dr. Mel Woodward Innovation and Entrepreneurship Endowment Fund and targeted at student entrepreneurs through an annual business competition now known as the Mel Woodward Cup.

The Mel Woodward Cup, a program of the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship (MCE), will award up to $40,000 annually in cash prizes as well as provide mentoring and other supports from MCE and its partners to winning students and teams of students.

pull-quote-woodward-donation-1"My father strongly believed that you never know what you're capable of until you go out and try,” said Peter Woodward, president and chief executive officer, Woodward Group of Companies.

“With this donation, we want to give students interested in entrepreneurship that opportunity to try. We hope that this fund sparks potential entrepreneurs to follow in the footsteps of our father and, in doing so, do their own part to contribute to expanding the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador."

‘Transformative gift’

“This transformative gift supports a cornerstone of the long-term plan to cultivate student entrepreneurship, part of Memorial’s Innovation Initiative more broadly,” said President Gary Kachanoski.

“Partners from the private sector like the Woodward family are so important to our success. It’s very fitting that a gift in Dr. Mel Woodward’s name will continue his incredible legacy of contributing to an economically diverse and sustainable Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Chrissy Rossiter, a fifth-year student in the bachelor of commerce (co-operative) program, was one of the winners of the Mel Woodward Cup in its inaugural year, 2016 (the competition was known as the Start-up Cup in its pilot year).

Ms. Rossiter won for her business, Peachy, which offers software solutions for home-care agencies to reduce manual paperwork, simplify staff tasks and improve worker visibility to increase sales and staff retention rates.

pull-quote-woodward-donation-2“Winning the Mel Woodward Cup had an immeasurable impact on my personal growth and development as an entrepreneur and business student, as well as the progress that Peachy has made thus far,” Ms. Rossiter said.

“The platform helped boost the confidence and determination I needed at the idea phase to encourage Peachy’s continuation and advancement. It facilitated conversations among many valuable connections within the entrepreneurial community, including with our recently appointed co-founder, Diego Zuluaga. The prize money is what will permit us to hire talented team members and develop a competitive product for the global market.”

Investment in students

Dr. Isabelle Dostaler, dean of the business faculty, says the donation from the Woodward family will have a significant impact on students at Memorial.

“This generous donation from the Woodward family shows incredible support for, and belief in, our students and their capacity as potential entrepreneurs," she said.

"Through this donation and the Mel Woodward Cup, we will be able to provide a tangible investment in our students and support them on their journeys towards becoming the next generation of business leaders. We’re grateful to the Woodward family for their support."

Community builder

Dr. Woodward contributed significantly to the economic development of Newfoundland and Labrador through the growth of Woodward Group of Companies. Known as one of the most successful business people in the history of the province, Dr. Woodward was also dedicated to community building through his distinguished years of public service. The many accolades he received during his lifetime include induction into the Newfoundland and Labrador Business Hall of Fame in 2001, receiving an honorary doctorate of laws degree from Memorial University in 2003 and winning the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

MCE is a campus-wide centre at Memorial University initiated through a partnership of the Faculty of Business Administration and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. The starting point for any student, faculty or staff member at Memorial who is interested in entrepreneurship, MCE promotes entrepreneurship, supports the development of startup ideas and contributes to an attractive entrepreneurial ecosystem at Memorial and beyond.

Susan White