The Innovation Cluster – Peterborough and the Kawarthas surpassed all targets for 2018, creating a tremendous impact for the economy through the success of local technology startups. Throughout the course of 2018, the Innovation Cluster generated $15,431,351.37 for the local economy, 15 times the set Provincial goal. While having supported 86 startups in total throughout the year, the Innovation Cluster in turn helped to create 171 jobs for the local economy.
“We are pleased to announce the impact we have made throughout 2018,” says Michael Skinner, President & CEO of the Innovation Cluster. “Our targets were set in 2013 by our funders, and with the collaboration and effort between the Innovation Cluster staff, community partnerships, and of course clients, we were able to far surpass that goal.”
Having established over 30 innovation partnerships, the Innovation Cluster has been able to create endless opportunities and connections for startups growing in the region. Of the 86 startups that have been supported in 2018, 46 of those were youth (18 – 29).
“Having close relationships with Fleming College and Trent University has been essential to attracting young, local innovators and keeping them in this region,” says Skinner. “A lot of startup successes and community events has been made possible through these connections.”
Along with Fleming and Trent, the Innovation Cluster has established partnerships that connect startups with easy access to legal advice, marketing, intellectual property, funding and more. Innovation Partners offer one-on-one mentorship as well as free workshops to the Innovation Cluster clients and the Peterborough community.
One of these Innovations Partners is RBC, which sponsors the Innovation Cluster’s Virtual and Augmented Reality Zone inside its incubator. Through this space, the Innovation Cluster has been able to assist its digital technology startups which make up over 50% of the clients it currently supports. Some of the rapidly growing digital clients include video game companies Bloom Digital and Canuck Play, and mobile app developers Kavtek and Ribitt.
Ribitt currently has over 2,000 users on its local shopping rewards app, and is currently working towards expanding past Peterborough and Toronto.
“The Cluster is very helpful because people want to know if your company belongs to an incubator or accelerator,” says Ribat Chowdhury, co-founder of Ribitt. “Your chances of succeeding is higher when you have a collaborative environment and are in a tech ecosystem and that’s what the Innovation Cluster provides us with.”
Having exceeded its goals for 2018, the Innovation Cluster plans to continue growing the startup community in Peterborough. Along with its digital clients, the reserve of clean technology clients also continues to rise. With the help of the Trent Makerspace at Trent University, clients are able to access lab space and research and development equipment. Cleantech Innovation Specialist John Gillis joined the Innovation Cluster team in 2017 to help support and develop this sector.
With digital and cleantech innovations rapidly growing, in 2019 the Innovation Cluster will be looking to grow its healthcare sector to address innovations towards accessibility and aging in Peterborough.
“The startups that have stayed and grown their companies in Peterborough and the Kawarthas and sought help through the Innovation Cluster is what truly sets this area apart from any other city in Ontario,” says Skinner. “The impact made this year has been the greatest to date for startup growth, jobs created and the economic impact it’s resulted in. We plan to keep those numbers on the rise.”