Helping businesses step up to grow in Mississauga.
Mississauga is ideally located, well-connected and home to thousands of innovative companies both large and small. Its robust innovation ecosystem is unified by the City of Mississauga’s newly launched platform IDEA Mississauga, which is enabled by its virtual hub IdeaMississauga.ca
“All the right ingredients are in place and so many resources are available. The City is now a concierge to help start-ups find what they need to take the next step,” says John Lam, the first Entrepreneurship and Innovation Specialist at the City of Mississauga. He’s been in his role over a year and works on a team within the Economic Development Office.
“The large size of the city is an opportunity and an advantage. There is so much diversity and when different perspectives come together, that breeds innovation. But that size can sometimes make it hard for people to find the resources they need. That’s where IDEA Mississauga comes in.”
IDEA Mississauga launches new 6-month program
Among the innovation assets in Mississauga are Sheridan College’s incubator EDGE, ICUBE at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and a range of programs offered through the Mississauga Business Entrepreneur Centre, the Region of Peel’s Altitude Accelerator, and the federal and provincial governments. As well, after a six-month pilot, IDEA Mississauga is officially launching an on-going step-up program that helps start-ups move to the next stage of growth. The program offers training, access to mentors, and pitch opportunities to investors and industry.
Several of the participants in the pilot program were excited to have these supports available to their stage of company in Mississauga. “As a start-up founder, you don’t always have time to think about mentorship,” says Vandana Taxali. She is a lawyer who founded Artcryption, a platform to help creators share, protect and sell their works using NFTs, a digital asset that represents real-world objects like art, music, in-game items and videos. They are bought and sold online, frequently with cryptocurrency.
“Participating in this program went way beyond my expectations. The quality of the mentors was incredible and they were really engaged with us. As a visible minority, female founder, sometimes you feel really alone.” Taxali’s mentors opened doors to venture capitalists and advised her on her pitch.
“I am proud of what the City is doing to help small companies. They have been key for my business in helping me overcome hurdles and in saving me time. It’s important to me to bring jobs, money and attention to my city through Artcryption.”
Angad Singh, co-founder of The Lean Suite, was a participant in the pilot stepup program and has also taken advantage of a range of resources, including EDGE at Sheridan.“ We provide the tools available in larger companies to smaller manufacturers to help them save time.”
“IDEA Mississauga’s mentors helped the company develop a sales blueprint and an IP strategy and The Lean Suite was able to refine its pitch before approaching a funder of early-stage start-ups. The company also got help in landing funding for a partnership with a college to develop an artificial intelligence algorithm. “
“We were introduced to a large automaker and to the Industrial Research Assistance Program. That kind of help has been amazing for us.”
The Lean Suite, launched in May 2021, offers customized mobile software solutions to digitize labour-intensive internal workflows in manufacturing facilities.
“Mississauga is a wonderful place to do business as a start-up,” says Singh. “These programs have been critical for us. It’s been important for technical and professional help but also to have the personal support of someone who understands what it’s like to launch a business.”
This new programming is filling a gap that was identified by many of the players in Mississauga’s entrepreneur ecosystem. By providing supports for companies at an early revenue generation phase, Mississauga can keep businesses in the city and create new jobs for an expanding innovation community.