New digs for growing Spark Centre focused on building entrepreneurship in Durham

May 21, 2019 by Reka Szekely Oshawa This Week

Spark Centre president and CEO Sherry Colbourne explains that one of her goals when she joined Spark Centre in early 2017 was to grow the organization as a global innovation hub by attracting startups through the Canadian startup visa program. Founded in 2012, Spark Centre is aimed at supporting Durham and Northumberland in becoming a globally-recognized tech and innovation ecosystem that develops businesses.

To reach out globally, Spark Centre partnered with the Region of Durham to create conduits to entrepreneurs in other countries that are interested in locating in Canada including entrepreneurs from Brazil, Colombia, the Middle East, Iran, India and China.

Success in attracting entrepreneurs through the visa program resulted in Spark Centre moving this year from the CORE21 co-working space to a new office space at 2 Simcoe St. S., on the third floor of what’s known locally as the CIBC building in downtown Oshawa.

“It really built traction last year, mid-last year so we were getting very concerned that our space, that we loved at CORE21, it wasn’t going to be sufficient when these people started coming,” said Colbourne of the startup visa program.

With the move, Spark Centre went from 3,000 square feet to 9,000 creating more space for clients to grow their business. At Spark Centre, clients can access every aspect of business advice including sales, marketing, business model development, investment connections, service providers and more. They also have space to work and the atmosphere fosters collaboration.

Colbourne explains that making international connections supports local entrepreneurship as it creates an ecosystem for innovation.

“That’s why the startup visa program is so important because a region like Durham is going to have some challenges getting to a critical mass where you have enough entrepreneurial companies thriving,” she said.

One example of a success story through the startup visa program is Eventelis, which is now a resident company after the company’s founders moved to Canada from Brazil and began working out of Spark Centre creating an Oshawa-based business.

An event platform, Eventelis allows people to register and purchase tickets for events and for event organizers to engage people who attend the events through the app.

As companies grow they can graduate from the Spark Centre to an accelerator aimed at helping them continue to scale up. Recent examples of Spark graduates include MobileXCo, a mobile marketing platform, and National Prostaff, the leading social network for anglers and angling brands.

“Companies that come through Spark and get to a $1 million in reoccurring revenue graduate from Spark and go to an accelerator,” she explains.

Currently, Spark Centre has more than a hundred clients and has identified 54 as very active with a potential to grow their businesses.

An idea summit hosted by Durham College president Don Lovisa looked into the potential for a much larger innovation centre in Durham.

“They determined we could do it, we’ve got the critical mass of the right demographic, we’ve got an educated population, if we stretch the region to be more encompassing, to the eastern corridor, there’s enough of an academic sector,” said Colbourne.

Dubbed D-Hive, the idea is for a large space — somewhere in the neighbourhood of 60,000 square feet — which will include Spark Centre, a makerspace and corporate sponsors. One potential site under consideration is the former Canada Post location in downtown Oshawa which the City of Oshawa has looked into purchasing.

Colbourne said she’s hoping to move toward a larger space within the next couple of years.

She explains the goal in the coming years is to build Spark Centre’s client base through the startup visa program and through the acquisition of local talent.

“Another goal of ours is to really reach into our community to create a sustainable business model for Spark and the overall Durham innovation initiative because we can’t rely on government funding, we need to find a way to make ourselves more sustainable,” she said.

As the organization continues to grow, plans are to stay in downtown Oshawa.

“Oshawa’s the biggest city in the region and typically these kinds of innovation hubs thrive in urban settings, because it’s very walkable and accessible, people can be working and they can go out for coffee or lunch and it needs to have a strong social fabric around it.”

by Reka Szekely

Reka Szekely is a reporter with Metroland Media Group’s Durham Region Division.

Spark Centre StartUp Receives Platinum Environmental Award for Sustainable Practices

EVENTELIS GRANTED PLATINUM GREENTECH PARK CERTIFICATION

SÃO LEOPOLDO, Rio Grande do Sul – 6 March 2019 – Most trade shows and conferences fill pockets with flyers, leaflets, and business cards. Combined with plastic cutlery, excess food, and increased energy usage, events with good intentions can end up generating a good deal of waste.

Recently, Eventelis, a digital event platform incubated at Spark Centre, has taken a few big steps that take aim at the problem of event sustainability.

This year, Eventelis was certified by the Tecnosinos Tech Park as a Platinum GreenTech Park company, the highest possible ranking for companies in the park. Their paperless app was part of this certification, but they promote sustainability in many different aspects of their business.

At the office, the company separates their waste into food, recyclable, and other. By turning off all electronics at the end of the business day, they save tremendously on energy usage. Additionally, Eventelis reduces waste by encouraging employees to use reusable mugs and bottles rather than disposable alternatives, they purchase rechargeable batteries rather than single-use, and they brainstorm with refillable whiteboard markers to reduce PVC waste and plastic waste overall.

Beyond the office, the startup has made efforts to use servers that go easy on the environment too. Amazon Web Services, where Eventelis’ servers are located, announced early last year that they had achieved an impressive 50% renewable energy usage mark for their data centers. Eventelis will continue to work towards transferring all servers to data centers within the AWS network that specifically use only renewable energy sources to further reduce environmental impact.

Eventelis strives for better events for people and planets and sustainability is an essential tenet of that goal. The company connects people to sustainable and smart event solutions through their mobile app and digital services. As members of Microsoft BizSpark, SAP Startup Focus, IBM Global Entrepreneur, Amazon Web Services Activate, and incubated by Spark Centre and Tecnosinos, Eventelis aims to continue working with event companies to build a strong digital presence while reducing their carbon footprint.

To help others find ways to be more sustainable, Eventelis will soon be announcing their Green Event Certification Program that helps event managers and companies to achieve more sustainable events.

 

For more information, please contact Carlos Petry

Spark Centre’s New Office Location

Spark Centre is excited to announce our new office location!

After 6 years inside the beautiful CORE21 co-working facility in Oshawa, Spark Centre has moved its office to 2 Simcoe St. S – just down the street!

Our old office served us well. In 2013, it allowed us to expand our operations, but it wasn’t long before we outgrew the space. We needed to expand!

Our new office is located inside the CIBC building at the corner of King St and Simcoe St. At 9,000 sq ft, we are able to create an even larger ecosystem for collaboration between our clients and partners. This is yet another stepping stone in our regional strategy to drive innovation, investment and job growth in Durham Region.



Spark Centre boasts 9 private offices, an open concept kitchen, a spacious training and event room,
meeting rooms, phone booths, and over 30 private desks.

Please stop by if you’re in the area – we would love to show you around!

Spark Centre
2 Simcoe St S – Suite 300
Oshawa, ON L1H 8C1
 

Stay tuned for more exciting updates!
 

New Look, Same Spark!

Spark Centre is excited to announce we have refreshed our logo!

Our Innovation Centre is on a mission for 2019. We have exciting updates to share. First: our new look!

Our logo was created when Spark Centre launched in 2012. It’s seen us through 2 moves, 1,000 clients and over 600 events. It’s been the face of our Innovation Centre and its steady growth. But, we have matured a lot over the last 7 years. We have a stronger mission and values, an energetic team and a fresh set of ambitious goals that our brand needs to keep up with.

 

 

You’ll notice the slight differences in the new logo. We dropped the swoosh, which we felt was a bit dated, and chose a richer red Pantone. We also did some very subtle adjustments to the kerning of the letters and refined the “S” to make it more prominent.

 
We’re pretty jazzed about the new look! It’s still us, but with a bit more impact.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates!
 

Ignite 2018 Recap

WHAT AN INCREDIBLE JOURNEY!

Another successful Ignite journey in the books! We are still buzzing from the incredible Gala and Winner Announcements! Thank you to everyone who came out to each event and supported our entrepreneurs through the Ignite Pitch Competition.

Let’s recap, shall we?!

Ignite is one of the most exciting, internationally recognized pitch competitions for Canadian technology, innovative or inventive entrepreneurs, lead by Spark Centre, in partnership with Ontario Power Generation and Beijing Future Science Park. Now in its sixth year, the Ignite Pitch Competition awarded $125,000 in seed funding to 5 successful entrepreneurs!

 

The Journey:

Selected applicants attended a Pitch School – a hands on workshop to help craft the perfect pitch, followed by a 3 minute pitch on stage to our Power Panel of seasoned entrepreneurs, investors and business experts.

10 finalists were then selected to deliver an intense, 20 minute boardroom presentation where 5 winners were chosen and announced at our Gala event!

IGNITE 2018 WINNERS:

Spark Centre Category // Swob Inc.
Beijing Future Science Park Category // Intelline Inc.
OPG Inspection & Maintenance Category // SHARC – McMaster University
OPG Refurbishment Category // Taiga Robotics
OPG Environment & Electrification Category // Evercloak

 

Applications for Ignite 2019 will be opening in August.
Make sure you follow us and visit ignitedurham.ca for updates!

Bridging Brazilian and Canadian Technology Ecosystems

 

Spark Centre partnered with international venture building firm, Dream2B, to host six Brazilian companies for a 4-week, intensive soft-landing program at Spark Centre’s office in downtown Oshawa. The program focused on providing these emerging, technology-based companies with the opportunity to learn how to establish a business in Canada. They received in-depth workshops from subject experts on finance, marketing, sales, investment and were provided targeted opportunities to connect with potential customers and Canadian investors.
 

Midway through the program, the companies set out to Toronto to explore the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) World Angel Investment Summit – a flagship event that attracts investors and industry leaders from around the world. This year, NACO partnered with Elevate Toronto, a city-wide tech and innovation festival that brings together 10,000 guests and 300 inspiring speakers. This gave the visiting delegation access to premium content and networking with some of Toronto’s elite Angel Investors.
 

Spark Centre and the founders of Dream2b share a similar passion for creating global entrepreneurship and have partnered to bring this successful program to the Region.
 

Regina Noppe, Co-Founder & CEO of Dream2B Global Acceleration Program, called upon her experience as a Canadian entrepreneur to build the experience for Brazilian startups. “The partnership with Spark Centre has exceeded our expectations in every way. We are delighted with the strong bonds that have been created for the startups in our Acceleration Program. We can’t wait to keep on growing the connections between Brazil and Canada and take them worldwide.”
 

Spark Centre President & CEO, Sherry Colbourne is spearheading globalization and cross-country relationships for Durham Region. “Spark Centre is establishing itself as an international hub poised to accept innovations to the eastern Greater Toronto Area (GTA) through collaboration agreements with international knowledge centres around the globe. To date, we have partners in Beijing, Wuxi, Oman, Dubai, Dublin, Brazil and, of course, the US. We are utilizing these global connections to open international markets to the many successful companies that call Durham Region their home.”
 

Of the six Brazilian companies that completed the 4-week program, 5 of them are actively completing the process of landing and establishing their businesses in Durham Region.
 

Carlos Petry, Co-Founder and CTO of Eventalis (Menvia) – a platform for professional event management that offers a web and mobile solution – is among those companies. “The soft-landing acceleration program provided by Dream2B and Spark Centre was the catalyst for Menvia to set its feet on Canadian soil. We have been part of previous Spark Centre soft-landing initiatives, but it was this program in particular that helped us build the knowledge and confidence to complete this big step in the company’s growth.”
 

Durham Region’s connection to Brazil has been an ongoing initiative of the Regional Municipality of Durham’s Economic Development and Tourism team and this program is solidifying the benefits of undertaking such outreach.
 

Plans for another cohort of companies through Dream2B and Spark Centre’s partnership is set to land in Durham during the Spring of 2019.