Hello & Happy New Year to our innovation ecosystem!
Looking back, we’ve had quite an action-packed 2014 here at Innovation Factory. From a number of exceptional new clients, to successful signature events like our LiON’S LAIR gala and Big DiF, to the launch of a new campus-linked accelerator called The Forge, we’re thrilled with last year’s achievements.
I am proud to share that in 2014, we worked with 270 new companies from all industries. These included digital media, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, clean tech and others. Our team has spent thousands of hours with these clients and assisted them with business plans, partnerships, marketing, sales and HR. Where our skills fell short, our volunteer mentors assisted. This year the companies we worked with raised millions of dollars in capital to grow their businesses and hire more staff. These funds came from both private equity and government programs.
We launched our first annual Synapse Life Science Competition in 2014, with the goal of driving life science innovations out of lab and into market, and had a number of promising applicants flood in. Our first-ever winner, Advanced Theranostics, is developing a disposable point-of-need device platform that can be used to diagnose both viral (e.g. influenza, HIV) and bacterial (e.g. tuberculosis, C. difficile) infections in 20 minutes. We can’t wait to see what comes out of the 2015 competition.
Our LiON’S LAIR competition and gala was back for a fourth year as well, and we had an exceptional batch of finalists who faced our Lions. Our generous event partners made it possible for the Lions to award over $160,000 in cash and in-kind prizes to the winners, making it our largest prize pool yet! This year’s winners included Ranggo, The Greenlid, Sound Options Tinnitus Treatments, Hangry and Special Appucations. All of our finalists are continuing to grow their businesses post-LiON’S LAIR and making an impact on Hamilton’s economy, some having even hired staff to expand their teams.
Our other signature events – including the iF Lunch ‘n Learns, Sales Peer2Peers, Innovation Nights and The Big DiF – continued to provide unique opportunities for those in our ecosystem to learn about entrepreneurship, build their networks (and clusters!), and discover local innovations.
Finally, in November of this year we had the exciting launch of our new campus-linked accelerator, The Forge, designed to assist youth entrepreneurs in Hamilton. The Forge is a partnership between McMaster University and iF. It includes dedicated space and programming intended to fast-track the growth of high-potential new ventures that will contribute to the local economy and produce the next wave of technology-driven companies in Hamilton.
It’s important to note that these achievements and milestones simply would not be possible without the support of our partners. It’s their generosity that allows us to provide our clients with expert resources, dynamic programming and unique events to help stimulate economic activity in Hamilton and inspire innovation.
Looking ahead, the team at iF is excited for 2015. We have our fifth anniversary coming up and with it the fifth LiON’S LAIR competition, a growing influx of new clients with innovative ideas, and – as always – new and growing collaborations and clusters within our ecosystem.
Wishing you and yours all the best in 2015!