If you are an entrepreneur who needs help getting your company growing, Spark Innovation Centre might be a great resource for you. It works with start-ups that focus on technology, innovation or invention, and the services are completely free.
They have a network of advisors who are experts in various fields (marketing, sales, manufacturing, legal etc.) and, depending on what someone needs help with, they will connect them to the person with the right expertise. “This is ideal for people who are starting a business because they don’t necessarily have the funds to pay for executive leadership coaching, marketing expertise, accounting or legal advice,” says Amanda Reynolds, public relations and media manager for Spark Centre. “Clients receive training, business assistance and access to funding to support all aspects of innovative technology or invention.”
Spark Centre is a not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centre. There are 18 across Ontario and the one based in Oshawa covers Durham Region and Northumberland County. Spark Centre receives funding from a variety of sources, including government, industry and sponsorships.
Here are a few of their clients:
IFTech is a high-tech company that has developed wearable technology that can be used in gaming. Their first product, called ARAIG (As Real As It Gets) may not just be used for fun: the company is expanding the technology into areas such as military simulation and virtual reality.
National Prostaff is a social network for anglers and outfitters. Tiko 3D invented an affordable 3D printer. Both of these companies won Spark Centre’s Ignite Pitch Competition, which has a grand prize of $25,000. The competition is similar to “Dragon’s Den,” where entrepreneurs go through a series of pitches, presenting their companies to a power panel made up of successful entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders, says Reynolds.
Spark Centre also offers coaching for people who want to be entrepreneurs, help with ideas that have yet to become a reality, as well as advisory boards for existing businesses. Spark Centre’s Thrive program is designed to help start-ups with all aspects of their new companies, including gaining faster market entry, reducing costs and networking with other seasoned entrepreneurs who can offer valuable advice.
for more information, visit sparkcentre.org