What is Innovate Niagara?
Innovate Niagara connects innovators to the people and programs required to bring their innovations to market through a suite of in-house programs, resource partners and network of incubation facilities.
We facilitate networking, collaboration, prototyping, and business development through:
- business advisory services;
- entrepreneurial training courses;
- business and industry networking events;
- business-academic collaboration opportunities;
- additional business tools and resources.
Our web portal is designed to streamline an entrepreneur's path from concept to prototype to profitable business – all in one place – helping to drive the growth of innovative clusters in the Niagara region.
Message from the CEO
Message from the CEO
Welcome to the second annual edition of Innovate Niagara’s Year In Success publication, where we highlight the successes of our clients and partners from 2014. In keeping with our goal of facilitating innovation in Niagara, this year's publication is entirely digital, with interactive opportunities to explore our clients' many successes. Our clients have enjoyed some incredible achievements over the last twelve months, and are actively contributing to the positive change we are experiencing across the Niagara region.
We are proud to have expanded our incubator network to three world-class facilities during 2014. In partnership with Brock University and the District School Board of Niagara, we are pleased to help power iHub, an educational research and innovation incubator uniquely located within a K-12 school facility. Home to educational technology startups, iHub connects entrepreneurs with educators, students, and resources to help bring their products and services to market.
Great things are also happening at Brock University’s BioLinc incubator, including the launch of their Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship Program, and the addition of three new tenant companies to BioLinc’s roster. BioLinc opened in September 2013, and has been a great resource for students, researchers, and companies within the region and beyond.
At the Generator at one, we have expanded to accommodate new portfolio companies and staff growth within existing companies at the facility. The Generator at one has remained at capacity since opening in 2010, and will celebrate its 5-year anniversary this June. All three of the business incubators in our network are world-class facilities with industry leading talent and expertise, helping to advance innovative entrepreneurial ideas in Niagara.
Innovate Niagara has also further advanced our relationships with several community partners, including Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, a world-class research facility dedicated to horticultural science and innovation, and Niagara College’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, a facility that assists manufacturers in the Niagara Region with producing and testing prototypes, evaluating new technologies, and developing new or improved products or processes for small- and medium-sized businesses.
At Innovate Niagara our goal is a simple one: to help entrepreneurs with leading-edge ideas to start, grow and succeed. As we expand and strengthen our network and service partnerships, we can help even more innovative entrepreneurs bring their ideas to market.
Chief Executive Officer, Innovate Niagara
Our Success In NumbersFrom July 2011 to December 2014
Message from the board chair
Message from the Board Chair
“Yogi” Berra, famed Yankee’s player and coach once said, "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going because you might not get there."
2014 was a proud year for the Innovate Niagara Board of Directors, as we celebrated the continued growth of the Innovate Niagara network of incubators, and far-reaching client successes and planned “where we are going.”
After focusing much of 2013 on the evolution of the Innovate Niagara brand from the founding organization of nGen, 2014 was a year of directing our efforts on cultivation of a responsive strategic path – for its current needs.
The Innovate Niagara Board is now largely made up of private-sector representatives from a diverse cross-section of industries; our members’ unique views and hands-on experience with an array of clients and organizations is helping us forge Innovate Niagara’s practical, client-centered future.
With Innovate Niagara’s growth in incubator and service partnerships, expanded client reach, and community outreach initiatives, Innovate Niagara is positioning itself as a leader in the province, while delivering on a strategy that reflects the unique and diverse needs of innovative Niagara businesses.
I am proud of Innovate Niagara’s continued success in ensuring leading-edge ideas and strategic-focused planning.
Board Chair, Innovate Niagara
The Board of DirectorsBoard Chair Albert IannantuonoPast Chair David OakesPresident/CEO/Founder
Tri-Media Integrated MarketingVice Chair Marc NantelDirector of Recreation & Community Services, St. CatharinesSecretary Treasurer John SukAssociate Vice President Research & Innovation, Niagara CollegeDirector Gary LibbenPresident
Xigera IncDirector Rej PicardVice President, Research
Brock UniversityDirector Bob SeguinRetired CEO of Westbrook Group of CompaniesDirector, Economic Development
Regional Innovation Centre
Regional Innovation Centre
2014 was another year of growth and accomplishments for our Regional Innovation Centre! We have had the pleasure of working with so many interesting and talented entrepreneurs this year. Our innovative clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds and specializations, and all have great enthusiasm and determination.
In 2014, we met with over 180 clients, more than 100 of whom were new to our roster.
Our business advisory team worked closely with each client to help them understand their market through research, or how to pivot if there was no viable market. Business advisors also helped clients find programs that would assist them in product development or hiring new staff, and made valuable introductions to other entrepreneurs, service providers, funding partners, researchers, and other potential partners.
We were fortunate to add some more great resources to our team of advisors. Michael Lorenzi has joined our group of Executives-in-Residence, a group of highly experienced executives and entrepreneurs who provide extremely valuable advice to our clients. Jenna Marino also joined the team as Advisory Services Coordinator. Jenna is responsible for working with our clients to coordinate meetings and communications, and keeping up to date on their activities. Tamara Jensen was brought on to help spread the word through outreach and communications.
We held 37 education and networking events throughout the region in 2014, hosting close to 1,200 participants. Examples of topics covered in our educational events include: how to use and understand Google Analytics, the value of an Advisory Board for startup companies, a learn@lunch series, and an entrepreneurial training series of workshops for our clients.
Networking events included a Niagara Integrated Film Festival Interactive Digital Media Mashup with more than 150 people in attendance at Keyframe Digital’s amazing downtown St. Catharine’s office. We also held our signature Contacts to Contracts “speed dating” event, and a networking event at the new Educational Research and Innovation Hub – iHub. We are committed to doing more of the same in 2015, with continued outreach across the region to engage all of Niagara.
In the fall of 2014, we launched MENTORup Niagara, a pilot mentorship program in partnership with the St. Catharines Enterprise Centre, Niagara Falls Small Business Enterprise Centre and the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce. This six-month program has 20 mentees benefiting from the experience of mentors from across the region. This pilot will help us optimize the program in order to roll out on a larger scale later on in 2015.
We are very excited about 2015 as we continue working with entrepreneurs, planning new events, expanding services and helping great people achieve amazing results!
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Client Success Story
Al Burgio, CEO
International Internet Exchange (IIX) is a peering solutions company with a global presence. We’re Virtualizing the Core of the Internet™ to facilitate peering between network operators and deliver world-class peering solutions to content providers, carriers, enterprise organizations, institutions and others. Our peering solutions handle an ever-increasing amount of exchanged traffic as Internet traffic grows annually.
The IIX Peering Solutions help make peering easy. Imagine spending your time exploring new business opportunities instead of setting up equipment, signing co-location contracts or traveling to remote locations for installation. Since launching in 2010, we’ve grown the peering market by helping organizations discover how they can peer and lower the cost of expanding their physical network. We provide you with a cost-effective, secure, scalable and controllable network solution to help you gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.
IIX has emerged as a leading Peering Solutions provider. It provides enterprises, content and other network operators with a cost-effective, secure, scalable and controllable network solution that enhances the performance of their applications and services.
Why Locate At Innovate Niagara?
Having been located at the Generator at one, it allowed us closer access to the advisory services of Innovate Niagara, it’s parent organization. Through Innovate Niagara, we were able to access angel and investment capital when forming our company. This also helped fuel our international expansion.
Innovate Niagara Events
The Innovate Niagara Team