Business Incubation & Innovation

Good to Grow: Winnipeg’s Business Incubators and Accelerators

Winnipeg's business incubators and accelerators are ready to help turn innovative ideas into successful business ventures. North Forge Technology Exchange, the Manitoba Technology Accelerator and the Industrial Technology Centre are three organizations mandated to create success for participating clients. Find out more about how each of these entities is positioned to assist up-and-coming contenders by perusing the brief introductions below.

North Forge Technology Exchange is an innovation-based economic development agency and a powerhouse community fueling Manitoba's innovation economy. It provides entrepreneurs with award-winning mentors, subject-matter experts and a two-stage startup program that has helped over 60 companies access more than $180 million in financing. Armed with Canada's largest non-profit fabrication lab, North Forge operates out of 27,000 square feet across Innovation Drive (on the University of Manitoba campus) and Innovation Alley (in the historic Exchange District in downtown Winnipeg).

North Forge is a recently formed collaborative innovation network conceived by the teams behind The Eureka Project, AssentWorks, Ramp Up Manitoba and the Startup Winnipeg program. Startup Winnipeg is a member of the Startup Canada Communities Program. Startup Canada is social enterprise supporting and giving a voice to entrepreneurs through online programs, national awards, flagship events, and partnerships with the public and private sectors.

Coming together as North Forge, this new entity can offer more mentorship, training and support for entrepreneurs across Manitoba.

Established in 2005, Manitoba Technology Accelerator provides people and resources to help innovators, entrepreneurs and startup companies build science- and technology-based business opportunities. As a private-sector, not-for-profit, business incubation organization, it helps companies accelerate to success. Manitoba Technology Accelerator receives financial support to provide business incubation services from the National Research Council Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) and the Government of Manitoba.

Manitoba Technology Accelerator provides business mentoring, coaching, active participation, networking, infrastructure, finance and investment services. The goal of its incubation program is to help member companies enter the market, secure investment or get acquired. By providing a customized incubation program with a low-impact fee structure, this organization makes it possible for members to achieve greater success than they could on their own. Studies show that completion of a business incubation program greatly increases the likelihood that a startup company will stay in business for the long term. Historically, 87 per cent of incubator graduates stay in business.

The Industrial Technology Centre(ITC) provides a wide range of advanced technical services enabling participating companies to improve their products and processes. Its clients include firms from various industrial sectors, along with federal, provincial and municipal government departments and agencies.

ITC recognizes that companies frequently don't have all the resources to be innovative and remain competitive in today's global marketplace. A team of technical experts provides a sounding board for companies with technical issues they cannot solve on their own, then offers technical solutions.

ITC offers services that add real value to all aspects of a company's operations and the product development cycle, from research through to the end user. Further, it keeps industry up to date on relevant technologies through current awareness publications, webinars, seminars and in-depth training opportunities. Collaboration is the key to company success, and that's why ITC acts as a hub to bring together stakeholders to share technology needs, exchange best practices and identify solutions.

From Winnipeg to the World – Innovation Centres

Three Winnipeg-based innovation centres are attracting welcome attention. All are world-renowned leaders in their respective fields, making the impossible seem feasible every single day. Take a look below to see how the Composites Innovation Centre, the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, and the CISCO Innovation Centre for Collaborative Technologies are distinguishing themselves.

Based in Winnipeg, the Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) is a not-for-profit corporation jointly sponsored by private industry and government. Its mandate is to support and stimulate economic growth through innovative research, development and application of composite materials and technologies for manufacturing industries. This is achieved by working directly with industry on industry-sponsored projects that result in a measurable economic benefit to the project participants and the community.

Projects are performed in collaboration with industry, government agencies and educational establishments. To support these activities, the CIC is funded by and/or has affiliations with several government, research and educational establishments, including Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Government of Manitoba, Economic Development Winnipeg, the National Research Council of Canada, the University of Manitoba and Red River College. The CIC is driven by industry requirements focusing on key areas such as aerospace, biomaterials, ground transportation and civil infrastructure. Core technologies like liquid resin molding and automation—and the business sectors they support—are based on levels of interest and the technology gaps/needs of industry. Capabilities developed around the core technologies assist industry in keeping pace with competitors as well as advancing technologies to provide for a competitive advantage.

Since its inception in 2003, the CIC has completed projects totalling more than $50 million and transferred over 180 technologies to industry.

The Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals (RCFFN) is a leading research institute whose mission is to develop alternative and practical uses for crops grown on the Canadian Prairies. By identifying and enhancing health-promoting compounds found in prairie crops and using them to develop innovative functional foods and nutraceutical/natural health products, researchers at this world-class facility are producing foods today that will translate into improved health and wellness of Canadians tomorrow.

The RCFFN is committed to the growth of researchers, industry, academia and producers, and it is dedicated to supporting these groups. The RCFFN coordinates the multidisciplinary, collaborative R&D efforts necessary to take bio-actives from identification to ready-for-clinical examination and pre-commercialization. It's the main source for scientific and regulatory information concerning bio-active compounds, nutraceuticals, functional foods and natural health products in Western Canada and is a catalyst for the development of plant-based products, increasing the processing of western Canadian agricultural commodities and the capturing of related economic spin-offs.

Today, RCFFN continues its research excellence, partnering with stakeholders to produce some of the most innovative foods and nutraceutical products on the market.

The Cisco Innovation Centre (CIC) is housed at the University of Winnipeg. The CIC's mandate is to explore the collaborative potential of high-speed fibre optic networks under the direction of Herbert Enns, who has been seconded to the University of Winnipeg to lead the development of innovative forms of digital collaboration, scholarship, research and creative works.

The backbone of the centre is the network of immersive telepresence labs, which has become an important university and community asset. The CIC telepresence infrastructure includes four rooms that connect researchers and academics with counterparts around the world. The telepresence is a fully immersive, multiscreen, high-resolution, audio/video environment for national and international conferencing. It allows up to 12 sites around the world to communicate concurrently and is ideally suited for academic, corporate and governmental conferences and seminars. The technology is based on fibre optic signals and runs on MRnet, the Manitoba Research Network; CANAIRE, the national fibre optic research network; and the LAMBDA RAIL network linking primary research universities in the United States.

The CIC is also a digital technology research centre, working with numerous partners in areas like converged building networks, digital capacity policy initiatives, healthy city applications, urban digital media networks and related projects to address the digital divide for underserved populations. The CIC has become a key participant in the expansion of the digital communication infrastructure and capacity of the university, the City of Winnipeg and the Manitoba government, and it plays a leading role within the local broadband economy.

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