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By Reem Aziz

One of the fastest growing trends for businesses today is the sweeping growth of strategic alliances. Three key speakers addressed this issue at the last Keep Growing Your Business Event: Strategic Alliances, held on May 19th, at the University of Toronto Mississauga faculty club.

The event, which was sponsored by the FRED GROUP, OCETA and the RIC Centre included presentations from industry professionals Hairdoss Sarma, Andrew Horsman and Ali Asaria.

Hairidoss Sarma, who is the sole proprietor of KRIYA Consulting and affiliated with the University of Guelph, emphasized the benefits of industry-academia alliances. Sarma says that a true alliance provides both parties with a win-win only scenario. For instance, in a research alliance between an industry and an educational institution, both organizations can work collaboratively on a project to achieve the best possible results.

Sarma admits that critical issues may arise due to the differences in the structure, mission and values of university institutions and industries. One way around this is for the two parties to collaborate on an outline of the problem definition and the methods to solve the problem.

Andrew Horsman, who is the Executive Director of Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS) spoke of the Ontario Used Tires Program – a solution for Ontario’s scrap tires. Horsman says that the OTS board is composed of tire manufacturers, tire retailers, mass merchants and vehicle manufacturers who act as a unified central body between organizations that deal with tires.

OTS is working to further its strategic alliances with key companies in the industry as well as the government sector for technology upgrades, equipment purchases, investment and R&D. Horsman says “you want to make sure that the company is able to sustain itself in the current market place.”

Ali Asaria, started his career as a RIM employee but decided to branch out on his own to become the founder and CEO of Well.ca – an online health and beauty supply store that offers free shipping across Canada. Well.ca focuses on providing the highest quality service for its customers.

Asaria was offered funding from Venture Capitalists but instead turned to the Maple Leaf Angels and does not regret it. His main advice is, “say no if it won’t solve your problem.”

Asaria emphasized the importance of personalizing relationships and has formed alliances with Jordan Banks, CEO of Facebook Canada, Colin Webster of Truition and Dave Ceolin of Digital Cement. Asaria says that one of the most important aspects of forming a strategic alliance is to “be clear about your weakness, needs and offerings.”

As emphasized by the speakers, strategic alliances has become an important tool for entrepreneurs who wish to expand the reach of their company without losing individuality or committing to expensive internal expansions.

Join us for our next Growing Your Business session, Innovator Idol, where four emerging companies will pitch to an expert panel for a chance to win big! Feedback will be given by the panellists but the winner will be chosen by the audience.  Details.

Reem Aziz is a University of Toronto student in the Digital Enterprise Management Specialist stream of the Communications, Culture and Information Technology program. She is currently a Writing and Communications intern at the RIC Centre where she is putting her academic knowledge to the test. She has an interest in marketing and event planning and has background experience in creating posters, banners and web ads.

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Cultivating Strategic Alliances is the subject of the next Growing Your Business seminar on May 19 at the Faculty Club, South Building at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

These monthly seminars are hosted by RIC Centre (Research Innovation Commercialization Centre) and the Ontario Centre for Environmental Technology Advancement (OCETA) and sponsored by the FRED Group.

The featured speakers include Haridoss Sarma, Technology Transfer Manager, University of Guelph; Andrew Horsman, Executive Director, Ontario Tire Stewardship and Ali Asaria, CEO and Founder, Well.ca.

Haridoss is affiliated with the University of Guelph, Business Development Office. He is also the sole proprietor of KRIYA Consulting focusing on a holistic approach to business value addition through research & technology matters. As an industry consultant he has helped SMEs and MNs in areas of new product development and patent portfolio alignment. Haridoss is a senior member of IEEE and Chairman for CSC/IEC 113 (Canadian Subcommittee for International Electrotechnical Commission) Nanotechnology Electrotechnical Products. He holds a Ph.D in Physics from I.I.T. Madras, India.

Andrew was formerly the Regulatory Compliance Manager with Wal-Mart Canada. At Wal-Mart Andrew was responsible for the Regulatory, Stewardship and Sustainability files, working closely with a range of industries and fellow retailers to enhance the compliance and sustainability of the organization. Prior to joining OTS as ED, Andrew was the Vice-President of Corporate Sustainability with the Delphi Group, an Ottawa-based consulting firm.

Ali  is a software engineer from the University of Waterloo and started his career at Research in Motion (RIM). Ali decided to leave RIM and, in September 2007, launched Norfolk Canada Home Health, which was later incorporated and named Well.ca. Having experience with the pharmaceutical industry, Ali recognized an opportunity to give customers the convenience of shopping online for drugstore products. The company has grown from a small operation in his dad’s pharmacy to a sustainable business in the Hanlon Industrial Park in Guelph that now employs more than 40 people.

Don’t miss this opportunity to explore cultivating strategic alliances with these compelling business leaders.

Registration is available through the RIC Centre website. Poster.

Check in and breakfast will start promptly at 7:30 at the Faculty Club South Building at the University of Toronto Mississauga, 3359 Mississauga Road North.

For further details about this event please contact: shantanu@riccentre.com

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