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

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.
 

DASH MD Raises $500,000 to help Hospitals Communicate Aftercare to Patients

When University of Waterloo student Zack Fisch broke his leg found himself in the emergency room, he had an otherwise normal visit — except when it came time to deal with the aftercare at home. After confusion with the nurse’s instructions — given while Fisch was medicated, stressed, and tired — Fisch developed a preventable complication and almost lost his leg.

“The truth is, that was the first real experience as an adult in the healthcare system outside of my doctor’s office, and that really piqued my interest in the space and the inefficiencies. I started speaking to patients that experienced the same range of emotions that I felt when I was going through the healthcare system,” Fisch said.

“We’re in maternity units, surgery units, we’ve gotten interest in mental health, and primary care.”
– Zack Fisch

It was that experience that led Fisch to launch Toronto-based Dash MD, which has just raised a $500,000 funding round to continue growing its platform that helps patients better understand and manage their aftercare. Investors networks participating in the round include GTAN, Niagara Angel Network, Peterborough Regional Angel Network, along with third-party angels including Peter Jennings, one of the co-founders behind VisiCalc.

Dash MD’s platform works along three touchpoints of the patient care journey — patients, hospitals, and healthcare providers. Patients receive an aftercare card from their healthcare provider, which they select as an option on the Dash MD app including the full instructions for their aftercare, and information on follow-up services and products.

Hospitals work with the company to create custom plans and digitize whitepapers, while healthcare providers can provide their contact information that’s shared within relevant areas of the app so patients can discover them.

 

Read more here

Eastern Innovation Corridor comes together for First Look – Investor Collision

For Immediate Release
March 21st, 2018

Oshawa, ON – Eastern Innovation Corridor comes together for First Look – Investor Collision

Spark Innovation Centre, in partnership with the Regional Municipality of Durham’s Economic Development and Tourism Dept. and Open People Network (OPN), are hosting their inaugural First Look Investor Collision, focused specifically on the Eastern Ontario Innovation Corridor. This invite-only networking event will provide opportunity for high potential startups, accredited investors and stakeholders of the entrepreneurial community to come together to collaborate with the goal of fostering partnerships, growth and development.

The Eastern Innovation Corridor – spanning from Pickering to Corwall – is a rapidly growing technology and innovation ecosystem that is developing competitive, world class businesses. First Look aims to connect the innovative entrepreneurs located in this corridor with the expertise of accomplished investors from across Ontario.

The Eastern Ontario First Look is modeled after the highly successful First Look event hosted by the Regional Innovation Centre, The City of Mississauga, and Angel One Investor Network. Now in its fourth year, this consortium is producing real results for investors and startup companies, one of which closed $925,000 in seed financing, thanks to the relationships made during First Look.

“We want to improve the connectedness between high-potential startup companies and the robust Angel networks that exist in Ontario. We want to ensure that our regional startups get their share of the more than $66 million dollars of angel investment made in Ontario alone last year,” said Spark Centre CEO, Sherry Colbourne.

 

Clients in attendance include:

  • Neothane, who has developed a magnetic urethane patch, called Magnaseal, which is used to stop and prevent hazardous leaks
  • WeTraq, who has developed a more advanced and versatile tracking device, called Tab, and
  • MeetScribe, who has developed a smart productivity assistant that provides a layer of intelligence during meetings that allows users to collaborate seamlessly with each other using natural language.

 

Kathy Weiss, Director of Economic Development and Tourism, Regional Municipality of Durham is thrilled to be co-hosting such a high-profile event. “Meaningful partnerships are key to economic development prosperity. Both the Federal and Provincial governments emphasize collaboration amongst municipalities in order to build strong clusters, allowing the country and province to remain competitive on the global stage. We are pleased to be working closely with Spark Centre and Open People Network to set the stage for an Eastern Ontario Innovation Corridor,” said Kathy.

 

Participating partners include Venture Lab, Peterborough Innovation Cluster, Startup Durham, Northumberland Community Futures Development Corp., University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), Durham College, Quintevation, Startup Bay of Quinte, PEC Innovation Centre, PELA Community Futures Development Corp., Launch Lab and Queen’s University.

 

 

About Spark Centre: Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre is one of seventeen not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) that form part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). The centre works to improve competitiveness and visibility of Durham Region and Northumberland County as a world-class innovation cluster. For more information on Spark Centre, please visit www.sparkcentre.org.

For more information:                                                                     
Kristina Svana – Marketing Director, Spark Innovation Centre
ksvana@sparkcentre.org

Spark Centre awards $5,000 to local Student Start-up Ominous Games

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Oshawa, ON (November 13, 2017) – The top 25 entrepreneurs gave their best three-minute pitch in front of the Power Panel at the annual Ignite Durham pitch competition. The Student category winner was chosen and was awarded $5,000 to help grow their start-up.

 

The competition was held at Durham College’s Centre for Food and accompanied delicious food by Bistro ’67 – the campus’ teaching-inspired restaurant.

 

This year’s Student Category winner, Ominous Games was announced during the Round 2 installation of the competition.

 

Ominous Games is a small studio based in Whitby, Ontario and was founded by a student team from UOIT in 2015. Ominous Games is currently developing their first commercial title, Spirit, and the team of three is very excited to share this with the community.

 

The Ignite journey continued as we narrowed down the additional two categories: Scale-Up and Discovery to their finalists. Wish Me Inc., MeetScribe took the Discovery category while Healthy Pets, and FleetOps took the Scale-Up category. All teams will pitch it out on November 29th in the final Ignite Boardroom Competition to be held at the Whitby Council of Chambers.

 

Tickets for the Boardroom competition (November 29th) and the Ignite Showcase (December 5th) are available for purchase at www.ignitedurham.ca.

 

 

About Spark Centre: Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre is one of eighteen not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) that form part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). The centre works to improve competitiveness and visibility of Durham Region and Northumberland County as a world-class innovation cluster. For more information on Spark Centre, please visit www.sparkcentre.org.

 

 

– 30 –

 

 

 

For more information:                                                                    

Andrew Kritiotis

Communications and Design Associate, Spark Innovation Centre

akritiotis@sparkcentre.org