Spark Centre is showcasing at OCE Discovery!

Discovery is a premier event where innovative entrepreneurship  is celebrated by innovation centers, entrepreneurs, students, venture capital, industry, government and academia. The event is magical and draws thousands of attendees from all over the globe to see and hear thought leaders and participate in entrepreneurial workshops.

Spark Zone will showcase seven of Spark Centre’s highest potential start-ups, ranging from gaming to energy storage solutions, and everything in between.  We have also invited key partners such as Northumberland CFDC, Durham College and Durham Region, who tirelessly work to help our clients succeed and elevate the importance of entrepreneurship.

Spark Zone will also feature interactive opportunities to view all of the various company’s capabilities, and we are hosting an ongoing pitch school which will be free to any attendee of OCE Discovery!

Come out and join us! And as a extra teaser… a few of our companies have some key announcements they will be making public!!

Want to attend OCE Discovery? Register Now!

Spark Makes New Home in Cool Digs at Core21

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We’ve moved to Core21 — Oshawa’s first co-working hub! It’s a place where small businesses, organizations and “solopreneurs” share space and resources, keeping overhead low, and networking opportunities high. At Core21, this means that the cost of photocopiers, wifi, front desk reception, kitchen and meeting space are shared amongst the tenants, while the creative energy that comes from neighbourly coaching, collaboration and networking are absolutely free.

For the Spark Centre’s Executive Director, Martin Croteau, it just made sense to make the move. “One of our core values is to support the emerging innovation and start-up community in Durham Region. And to do that, we want to physically be where the action is. We have no doubt that the Core is going to be a hub in that community network.”

Essentially, Core21, and other co-working hubs like it, are ecosystems for entrepreneurs. The physical and technical infrastructure of an office is present, but most importantly, the people needed to fulfill the ‘social capital’ are also there. Co-working colleagues are steps away, and can usually provide all the trouble-shooting, coaching and professional expertise required. If they can’t do it themselves, someone in their immediate network can!

A proponent the pay-it-forward approach to business, Claire Bloddaert, Coordinator at Core21, is enthusiastic about what’s in store. “Core21 is going to be so good for Oshawa and the Region, with all the new grads from UOIT, and others starting up their own businesses. This space takes it a step further than just renting office space. It allows opportunities for collaboration and learning from others.” This very hands-up approach is something Bloddaert wishes she had when starting her own tech business in the “school of hard knocks”. Back then there were no helpers along the way to coach her. As coordinator, it’s her job to help make those connections happen.

General Manager at Core21, Amy Gazdik, is also excited to see the new faces and buzz in the office. After six months of intense work pre-launch, she is planning a grand opening party for September to celebrate and thank all the people who helped to turn their vision into reality.

If you’re interested in co-working at Core21, there are still hot-desks available, 2 enclosed office spaces, and 4 private desks. The big events room can also be rented by members of Core21 and the public for professional events of up to 60 people. Please contact Amy Gadzik for more details.

Ignite Finale 2013 Celebration

On June 25th, we celebrated the growing community of entrepreneurs and cultural leaders in Durham Region at the Ignite Finale. Highlights included hearing the latest successes of our finalists fresh out of start-up bootcamp and a keynote from international bestseller, Tim Ferriss in the Regent Theatre. Afterwards, we partied in Oshawa style with great music, local gourmet nibbles and drinks, breakdancers and participatory art. We even had a Twitter contest — and made #IgniteDurham the number 2 trending tags across Canada! On fire, indeed! More to come in 2014 . . . Sign up for the Spark Centre e-newsletter for the latest news on Ignite 2014

A big thank you to all the 2012-2013 Ignite sponsors, especially those who donated the two iPad Minis – Durham Workforce Authority and Collins Barrow Durham LLP.

Check out the photos from the evening on the Spark Centre Facebook photo album – The Ignite Finale!

Best Networking Event of the Year for Local Entrepreneurs!

Looking for some entrepreneurial inspiration? See why you should start your business here in Durham!

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Tuesday, June 25
Regent Theatre, Oshawa at 5:00pm

Join us at the Ignite Finale 2013 to hear CBC Dragon, Bruce Croxon, and other members of our Power Panel, keynote speaker and international bestseller Tim Ferriss, as well as the start-up Ignite Finalists!

You’ll start your evening with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the outdoor lounge beside the Regent Theatre at 5:00pm, and follow that with the formal Ignite Finale program. At 7:00pm the outdoor space will change gears and turn into a Street Party, complete with a converted boxcar-to-bar dubbed the “Ice Box” Social Media Lounge. (Sponsored by 360Incentives, Construct Durham Corporation, Kleurvision and Search Engine People.)

Your ticket gets you a complimentary drink, local gourmet food from The Patty Shack, Buster Rhinos and The Table, DJ and entertainment, plus a FREE copy of Tim Ferriss’ latest inspiration for entrepreneurs, “The Four-Hour Chef”. Tickets are selling fast – buy your ticket to the networking event of the year today!

Tickets: $45 general admission / $60 door includes FREE BOOK!

Ignite Durham Rounds Down to the Final Five Entrepreneurs after Pitch Night

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WHITBY, ON Feb 5, 2013 – A final group of 5 entrepreneurs have been chosen to move on to the next phase of Ignite Durham. On Monday, February 4th, a short list of 30 Ignite participants pitched live in front of the Power Panel and 250 members of the community. The 30 were selected from a pool of 102 applicants for Ignite Durham (www.ignitedurham.ca), a brand-new start-up boot camp that will set two local companies on the path to success.

Ignite is presented by Spark Centre, a not-for-profit organization that offers services and support to local entrepreneurs; The Region of Durham; and VentureStart, a program that helps technology entrepreneurs in Southern Ontario.

All applicants took part in a five-night Pitch School where they learned to write a business summary, best practices for pitching, anxiety-management strategies, and how to cultivate strategic vision for their company. They also heard personal stories from local entrepreneurs Jason Atkins from 360 incentives, Jeff Quipp from Search Engine People, and Jenn Atkinson from 5 Minds Mobility.

Here are the five Ignite Durham finalists:

Squabble Studios Ltdhttp://www.squabblestudios.ca/
Participants: UOIT alumni: Matthew Stephan, Aaron DeChamplain, Eric Rosendale, Ian McCabe and Veronica Cole.

Squabble Studios is a game development studio with a focus on serious games, simulations and training applications. We work with other companies and institutions to develop original games that meet needs across various domains.

The Mobile Experience Company (Mobile X Co.) — http://www.mobilexco.com/
Participants: Peter Pinfold and Andy Bruce.

As a context marketing company, we tackle the age-old problem that, “half the money spent on advertising is waste; the problem is, we don’t know which half.” By providing agencies and brands with tools to gain real-time insight into how marketing dollars perform across online and offline media channels, Mobile X Co makes calculating marketing ROI easy.

They Innovatehttp://www.theyinnovate.com/
Participants: Jeff McLarty and Danilo Malanczyk from They Innovate.

They Innovate Inc. develops solutions for consumer and commercial applications. They Innovate’s pilot solution is a fashionable way for anybody to secure any smartphone or tablet, to any clothing or surface.

Element34http://www.element34.ca/
Participant: Adam Goucher

With the explosion of complexity in today’s applications, managing the test cases and testing ideas needs to change and adapt. Element 34 will create a next-generation, cloud-based, test-case management system based on mind maps.

Moxie Retail Solutions Inc.http://www.moxieretail.com/
Participant: Joshua Tibdano, UOIT student.

The Moxie suite of services combines insights gathered from customer mapping, POS and
loyalty data to create distinct communications and in-store environments that result in meaningful customer engagements.

Ignite – a new business boot camp has $25,000 cash for entrepreneurs in Durham Region!

WHITBY, ON November 12, 2012 – Entrepreneurs in Durham Region have until January 11, 2013 to apply for Ignite, a brand-new start-up boot camp that will set two local companies on the path to success.

Ignite is presented by Spark Centre, a not-for-profit organization that offers services and support to local entrepreneurs; The Region of Durham; and VentureStart, a program that helps technology entrepreneurs in Southern Ontario. “We are on the hunt for exciting, high-potential start-ups,” said Martin Croteau, executive director of Spark Centre. “We know that Durham is full of inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs. We are going to throw the support of the entire community behind the top two companies we can find.” After a rigorous selection process involving a public Pitch Night and boardroom presentations, two “Ignite Start-ups” will be announced in early March. These two companies will then enter an intensive four-month boot camp, which includes the following: a $25,000 cash award; access to a Power Panel of high-profile entrepreneurs; and in-kind professional services from local experts in areas such as finance, marketing, and law. In addition to accelerating the success of the two chosen companies, Ignite will showcase the exceptional local resources available to all entrepreneurs in Durham. The boot camp will culminate in a public event, the Ignite Finale, on June 25, 2013 at The Regent Theatre in Oshawa.

“Durham Region is proud to partner with Spark Centre to launch Ignite, the powerful next step for the Art of Transition to continue to support a strong local creative economy,” said Kerri King, Tourism Manager for Durham Region. “Through Ignite, we will continue to promote Durham’s innovative culture, and create more well-paying jobs in our community.” Applications are available online and must be received by 5 p.m. on January 11, 2013. Please visit www.ignitedurham.ca for more information on the application process, eligibility criteria, and important dates.