Oshawa, Whitby, and Cobourg entrepreneurs, and in fact all Durham Region and Northumberland County residents, have seen the benefits of Spark Centre, one of 18 not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) that form part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE).
Through a variety of different programs, Spark Centre provides advisory services to early stage or growing innovation and technology companies, with executive coaching, functional advisory, co-location, incubation and day to day operational support being just a few of the services available. One client, IFTech (iftechtechnologies.com) who produce the world’s first multi-sensory multidirectional, force feedback suit, ARAIG, even utilized the Spark Centre to prepare for their debut on Dragon’s Den. But they are not alone.
“The Spark Centre has helped us with everything since our inception,” says student entrepreneurs and founder of Henlen Watches. “As student entrepreneur’s we were yet to be exposed to many aspects of running a business. With the guidance from Spark Centre advisors, we were able to build our company in the right way,” says Kyle George, CEO of Henlen Watches. “Without the help and encouragement of the Spark Centre, we wouldn’t be where we are today. They have taught us and helped us grow our business in a way that would have been impossible without them.”
The Spark Centre provides many programs to local and regional clients, partners, and members including funding and investment, helping you navigate the grant, private investment, loan or angel funding options; start-up services including your business plan, marketing strategy, and product development to name a few; and, operational support services including organizational scaling, growth, sales, marketing, manufacturing, and distribution.
The Spark Centre has seen 750 clients and spent 12,351 advisory hours working with clients since 2012. Clients have collectively raised $8.32 million and created 116 locally paid jobs in the last five years.
“It is continually inspiring to see these incredible innovative ideas and businesses developing right in our backyard,” says Sherry Colbourne President & CEO at Spark Centre. “Spark Centre will continually work with funders and stakeholders to ensure Durham Region becomes a globally recognized technology and innovation ecosystem.”
One of the more visible initiatives is Ignite. It begins with a pitch school open to all technology, innovative, or inventive applicants and ends with an extraordinary finale celebrating two Start-ups – Young Entrepreneur and General Entrepreneur, as well as a student category. The goal is to “Ignite” a start-up community in Durham Region by bringing visibility and support to entrepreneurs, ultimately creating jobs and economic wealth that inspires Durham Region by highlighting the local resources available to start-ups. Spark Centre can show entrepreneurs that Durham has everything they need to successfully start and grow their companies. Other key programs include the:
- Community Program – an early-stage workshop series to help entrepreneurs and innovators commercialize their products and ideas by providing them the resources and expertise they need to succeed;
- High Potential Program – for more advanced start-ups with intensive scaling support, assistance with fundraising, hands-on operational support, and much more; and
- Thrive Program – an incubation program offering space at The Loft to those accepted to the program to use as their head office, allowing entrepreneurs and start-up businesses to spend money on development and hiring staff rather than rent.
The Loft, Spark Centre’s head office, is located in Downtown Oshawa in Durham Region. It’s an ecosystem where innovative entrepreneurs and partners can collaborate in an open concept co-working space that allows start-up businesses the opportunity to expand their network and connect with like-minded entrepreneurs and business leaders. If you are interested in becoming a client, visit Spark Centre’s website at www.sparkcentre.org and click on Become A Client to set up a meeting. For more information on Spark Centre, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org