There’s a new business incubator for entrepreneurs in the Kawartha Lakes.
The business incubator — which helps create and grow young businesses by providing them with necessary support, financial, and technical services — is part of a joint pilot project by the Innovation Cluster Peterborough and The Kawarthas and the City of Kawartha Lakes.
The pilot project is being supported by Kawartha Lakes Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) through the Rural Innovation Initiative Eastern Ontario, a project funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
On Tuesday morning (February 11), the new incubator was officially launched at 180 Kent Street West in downtown Lindsay, with speakers including Kawartha Lakes mayor Andy Letham, Innovation Cluster president and CEO John Gillis, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott and MP Jamie Schamle, and Kawartha Lakes CFDC chair Jil Quast.
The launch event included a ribbon-cutting ceremony and an open house where members of the public had an opportunity to tour the space.
“We are excited to launch our incubator in the heart of Lindsay to give current and future startup clients the opportunity to access our resources closer to home,” says Innovation Cluster president and CEO John Gillis.
“The Innovation Cluster has been supporting clients in the Kawartha Lakes for a number of years remotely, and many of those clients have been driving into Peterborough to work in our world-class incubator. They have been waiting for us to make this expansion happen,” Gillis adds.
A not-for-profit economic development organization, the Innovation Cluster launched its downtown Peterborough business incubator, known as The Cube, in 2017. Since then, the 10,000-square-foot space has provided a space for more than 80 startups, along with coaching, mentoring, and business development support services.
Throughout 2018, the Innovation Cluster supported eight businesses in Kawartha Lakes, resulting in 22 jobs and an economic impact of over $2.3 million.
This led to a March 2019 presentation by former Innovation Cluster president and CEO Michael Skinner to Kawartha Lakes city council, proposing an expansion into the City of Kawartha Lakes, including an office in Lindsay. Kawartha Lakes city council subsequently approved a staff recommendation to develop a joint partnership with the Innovation Cluster.
“The Innovation Cluster has been crucial to the success of Mamasoup,” says Joanne Ilaqua, a Kawartha Lakes entrepreneur and Innovation Cluster client. “The support and guidance provided by the sponsors, knowledge partners, staff and other startups make me a stronger entrepreneur and I can’t wait to be part of the incubator in Lindsay, closer to my home.”
Through the partnership between the City of Kawarthas Lakes and the Innovation Cluster, startups working in more remote areas throughout the Kawarthas will have easier access to programming, network connections, funding, investment and business opportunities, as well as marketing and commercialization support.
Business incubators provide many benefits for entrepreneurs starting their businesses. Office and manufacturing space in incubators is offered at below-market rates or for free, and incubator staff supply advice and expertise to entrepreneurs in developing their business and marketing plans, as well as helping to fund startups.
Companies typically spend an average of two years in a business incubator until they are able to strike out on the own and accelerate their company’s growth.
“The Innovation Cluster has been instrumental in the success of Horizon Aircraft thus far,” says Brandon Robinson, CEO of Horizon Aircraft Inc., another Innovation Cluster client based in Kawartha Lakes. “Their deep business experience, high-quality network, and strong leadership have helped our company sharpen our business plan, attract investors, and launch a brighter future for all of aviation.”
“We are excited for this opportunity to become available for the many talented entrepreneurs in Lindsay. The result will undoubtedly be more jobs and a strengthened economic base in Lindsay and the City of Kawartha Lakes.”
As part of the pilot project, the Innovation Cluster will also hold eight new events and a number of workshops through 2020 to support innovation and technology startups in the City of Kawartha Lakes.