Laurier entrepreneurs, present and future, will be getting a boost from a recent federal investment into The Accelerator Centre.
On Jan. 15, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) announced that the Accelerator Centre, an award-winning technology startup incubator, would receive $8 million in funding over four years to establish a new program called AC JumpStart. The AC JumpStart program will help high-potential startups commercialize new products and develop new businesses by providing selected companies with mentorship and matching seed financing.
The program will begin in January 2015 and run through 2018.
Three companies established through the Laurier LaunchPad entrepreneurship program – Alaunus, Meal in a Jar and Eventpeeks – have been selected to be part of the AC JumpStart program, each receiving $30,000 in seed funding and a spot in the Accelerator Centre. As a result of the FedDev funding, Laurier will receive $800,000 over four years, which will support 20 Laurier-based companies.
“This program is a positive step in advancing our partnership with the Accelerator Centre. It is a clear example of the importance we put on supporting young entrepreneurs who have a proven track record of success,” said Max Blouw, Laurier president and vice-chancellor. “I know that with this assistance, several of our companies will move through the startup stage to become successful growth companies in our region.”
The Accelerator Centre is an initiative involving several partners including academic institutions such as Laurier, the University of Waterloo, Conestoga College and the University of Guelph. Based at the University of Waterloo’s David Johnston Research + Technology Park, the Accelerator Centre provides budding technology companies with work space, mentorship, networking opportunities and access to state-of-the-art facilities.
The three Laurier LaunchPad startups selected to be part of AC Jumpstart’s first cohort run the gamut from mobile IT solutions for health care to fresh, healthy, pre-made meals to tools for effectively utilizing social media during live events.
“The JumpStart Program with its cash injection and mentorship will be a real boost to some of our most advanced Laurier Launchpad companies,” said Steve Farlow, executive director of Laurier’s Schlegal Centre for Entrepreneurship.
Founded in 2011 by Laurier alumnus Andrew Ringer (BBA ’11), Alaunus designs software to help make healthcare organizations run more efficiently. The company developed a product called HealthPlanr, a mobile practice-management solution that coordinates schedules and tracks patient information more efficiently than traditional paper-file systems.
Meal in a Jar was born when Laurier grad Carson Kolberg (BA’ 13) saw a mason jar with layers of fresh ingredients on his hairstylist’s workstation. Irene Divaris, who happened to go to the same hairdresser, had been combining fresh ingredients in jars as healthy, on-the-go meal options. The two partnered and Meal in a Jar's healthy pre-made meals are now available in stores throughout Waterloo Region.
In 2012, Laurier MBA students Aron Tennant and Bart Piwowar teamed up to create an app called Eventpeeks and brought classmate John Beresford on as a managing partner. Eventpeeks collects photos from various social media platforms, allowing users at an event to interactively engage with the rest of the audience and helping event organizers track and analyze social media use during their event.
In addition to seed funding, the companies involved in the AC JumpStart program will receive mentorship from experts in: finance, sales, marketing, human resources, technology and product development; access to market research and connections to investors.
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