The City of Kawartha Lakes and the Innovation Cluster, with the support of the Kawartha Lakes Community Futures Development Corporation through the Rural Innovation Initiative Eastern Ontario (RIIEO), a project funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) have opened an incubator for high-growth entrepreneurs.
An official launch for the incubator took place on February 11, 2020 at 11 a.m at 180 Kent St. W. Partners supporters, and the public joined together for speeches, a ribbon cutting, and a tour of the space. Speakers included Mayor Andy Letham, John Gillis, President of the Innovation Cluster, MPP Laurie Scott, MP Jamie Schmale and Jil Quast, Chair CFDC.
The Innovation Cluster has successfully accelerated hundreds of startups for over a decade, supporting companies in the agriculture technology, clean technology, digital and healthcare technology sectors. Launching its 10,000 sq.ft. incubator in the heart of downtown Peterborough in 2017, the not-for-profit organization has coached, mentored, and provided a space for over 80 startups to find their best path to market as of 2019.
Throughout 2018, the Innovation Cluster supported eight CKWL companies, which created an economic impact of $2,355,633 and the creation of 22 jobs for CKWL. With this success and a clear need for more robust support and programming for entrepreneurs creating innovative new startups, the Innovation Cluster is looking forward to bringing its services on-site.
“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 President and CEO of the Innovation Cluster, 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.”
The Innovation Cluster will now provide a creative incubation space for new ideas to blossom with entrepreneurs working side-by-side in Lindsay’s first full-service incubator in CKWL. Through this partnership, startups working in more remote areas throughout the Kawarthas will have easier access to dynamic programming, network connections, funding, investment and business opportunities, as well as marketing and commercialization support.
“The Innovation Cluster has been instrumental in the success of Horizon Aircraft thus far,” says Brandon Robinson, Chief Executive Officer of Horizon Aircraft Inc., a long time client of the Innovation Cluster based in the City of 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.”
An increasing amount of people are looking to run a successful startup outside of large cities, to ensure a better quality of life. Incubators in smaller communities that provide an abundance of professional resources at one site allows those entrepreneurs to achieve their goals without having to move.
As part of this pilot project, the Innovation Cluster is set to hold eight new events and a number of workshops in 2020 that will lead to an increase in successful innovation and technology startups in CKWL.