A Global-First Approach at the Heart of Ontario’s Innovation Economy

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When you think of Ontario’s innovation economy, one thing comes to mind – entrepreneurship.

Specifically, Waterloo, Ontario is home to the province’s top tech hubs and hundreds of thriving startups.

At the heart of that innovative community is Canada’s top entrepreneurial support hub, the Accelerator Centre (the AC). Ranked by UBI Global as Canada’s #1 private business accelerator and recognized among the top 5 such organizations globally, the AC is a hotbed for innovation and a gateway to global talent and international markets.

In June of 2021, the AC embarked on a refreshed strategic vision to activate the innovation economy by catalyzing startups, industry, and academia. The new roadmap takes a unique “global-first” mindset that will see the innovation hub bring the magic of Waterloo to the world and attract the world’s best founders, investors, and ideas to Waterloo.

Why Ontario Founders Need to Think Globally from Day One

The world has changed. Over the last two decades the internet has powered business to become democratised. Over the last decade, the gig economy has accelerated this democratisation. And in 2020 spurred by a global pandemic, digital transformation further accelerated this growth. Today, we are more connected than ever before.

As a result, launching and scaling the next Canadian unicorn requires founders to have a plan for acquiring market share, scaling, and remaining competitive globally.

To achieve this, founders need to abandon the “think small to get product market fit” mentality and adopt instead a “global-first” mindset that ingrains the global market and global opportunities into the DNA of their startup.

“It is all about market size and access to capital,” says AC CEO Jay Krishnan. “Ontario-based startups can, and should, stay in Ontario. But that doesn’t have to mean losing out on the opportunities, resources, and market share the rest of the world has to offer. Today’s investors, capital, and markets are global. It is easier than ever before to access those resources from anywhere in the world. Tapping into that network and the opportunities the global innovation community has to offer is essential. That is why our strategic roadmap focuses on creating a full-stack hub with a global approach—bringing the best of Waterloo to the world and the best of the world to Waterloo.”

The Ingredients of a Global Innovation Hub

Strong Community

Even in a global world, local matters. Waterloo is world-renowned for its talent pool. Home to top academic institutions like the University of Waterloo (UW), Laurier, and Conestoga College, the post-secondary community within Waterloo has fostered a deep and diverse pool of cross-functional talent with an eye on entrepreneurship. This density of entrepreneurial-minded talent provides the AC with a strong funnel of high-impact, big ideas, and founders who are ready, willing, and able to take on those lofty challenges.

Pathways of Acceleration

Solving big problems, making a big impact, and bringing big ideas to market requires clear and structured pathways to acceleration. Traditional entrepreneurial support programs address innovation from a lens of startup supply, meaning they find founders and startups that need support and help them succeed. The AC’s approach to acceleration also addresses innovation from the demand side, looking to identify new industry challenges, curate founding teams, and create programs that rapidly address real-world challenges and provide accelerated pathways to market.

Access to the Global Frontier

Building networks and plugging into all the resources the global innovation community has to offer is an essential part of the AC’s strategy to build a global-first, full-stack startup hub. We believe that Waterloo Region is the best place to start, shape, and strengthen your company. Our Global Frontier programs bring Waterloo to the world for local startups, connecting you to new markets and funding sources. For international entrepreneurs or emerging innovation hub leaders, our programs connect you to the magic of Waterloo, giving you platforms to tap into our proven capabilities through our Global Hubs program and Startup Visa program.

As Ontario’s innovation economy continues to grow, impactful accelerators like the AC will continue to inspire entrepreneurship, enable success, and facilitate global impact. Supported by a deep and diverse network of domestic and international partners, the AC will continue to be the centerpiece of Ontario’s strong and growing tech community.

To work with the AC or inquire about how you can partner with Canada’s #1 private business accelerator, contact info@acceleratorcentre.com or visit www.acceleratorcentre.com.