lions lair logo innovation factory pitch competition hamilton

LiON’S Lair invests in startups. The competition takes entrepreneurs through extensive training and provides the chance to pitch their business and win $100k+ in prizing


LiONʼS LAIR is an annual competition presented by Innovation Factory and the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, which brings together the entrepreneurship and innovation community in Hamilton. The competition gives 10 companies the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of our city’s top business experts – the “Lions” – for a chance to win over $100,000 in cash and in-kind resources!

The first annual competition took place in 2011, and has significantly grown – in application volumes, gala attendees, prizing and buzz – year after year.


lions lair training hamilton innovation factory pitch competitionfinalists selection

So how does LiON’S LAIR work? Every Spring, hopeful participants submit business plans which are evaluated by a panel of independent judges.

The judges’ score the plans based on a company’s product, its commercial viability and the ability of the entrepreneur to execute. After the judging, the 15 companies who scored the highest are our finalists.


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The finalists are taken through training sessions intended to strengthen their skills in pitching and developing questions and responses on the fly. The 15 finalists present a two-minute pitch to a panel of judges, from which a top 10 moves on to face the Lions.




Each of the 10 finalists participates in a filmed pitch session with the Lions, which includes the entrepreneur’s 15-minute pitch followed by a question period. The Lions ultimately decide which companies receive cash and in-kind service investments from participating sponsors.



EVENT9the awards GALA

The 10 filmed pitch sessions are each trimmed down to 5-minute clips that are shown at the LiON’S LAIR Gala at Carmen’s Banquet Centre, where the Lions’ investment decisions are revealed live on stage for the first time!

Many of our past finalists are continuing to grow their businesses post-LiON’S LAIR and are making an impact on Hamilton’s economy. Many have hired staff to expand their teams and a couple have even made it to the Dragons’ Den stage!


Have a question about LiON’S LAIR? Send us an email at [email protected] or visit to learn more!