03/23/2015 11:22 EDT | Updated 05/23/2015 05:59 EDT

Joe Fresh teams with Ryerson University to establish fashion innovation centre

TORONTO - Joe Fresh is teaming up with Toronto's Ryerson University to create what is being billed as the country's first fashion innovation centre.

The affordable apparel brand is committing $1 million to the project.

The initiative is aimed at developing and funding fashion-inspired businesses through Ryerson's Fashion Zone, an incubator which supports students and student entrepreneurship.

Up to 21 businesses will work with academic and business advisers to develop their business models, products and go-to-market strategies.

Participants will received dedicated workspace within the Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation and the chance to seek seed funding.

The centre and Fashion Zone are modelled after Ryerson's existing Digital Media Zone, which is open to early-stage startups across the country.

The announcement comes one week after it was revealed Joe Fresh founder and creative director Joe Mimran would be stepping down from his role with the company and joining the panel of CBC-TV series "Dragons' Den."

Joe Fresh company president Mario Grauso is now taking the reins of the brand.