Hello and Happy New Year!
What a year! 2015 has been a great one for us here at Innovation Factory. We welcomed exceptional new clients, continued to host entrepreneurial competitions like LiON’S LAIR and Synapse, opened a second Forge accelerator location, and – oh yeah – we turned five! I can truly say I’m thrilled with the year’s achievements.
This past year we’ve worked with a number of new companies across a range of industries that include ICT/digital media, life science, advanced manufacturing, clean tech and more. Our team spent thousands of hours working with clients to help with their businesses, but we’re also lucky to have a roster of talented volunteer mentors who step in to coach our clients. I’m proud to share that companies we worked with this year raised millions of dollars in capital to grow their businesses and hire more staff.
We ran our second annual Synapse Life Science Competition in 2015 – with the goal of continuing to drive life science innovations out of lab and into market – and had many impressive applicants flood in. Sound Options was the first place winner of $20k in prizing for their effective sound therapy for people suffering with tinnitus, a hearing condition producing ringing in the ears.
Our LiON’S LAIR competition was back for a fifth year as well (another fifth anniversary!), and we had a fantastic batch of finalists who faced our Lions to compete for over $160,000 in prizing. This year’s winners included Sniper Skin, ExVivo Labs and Blue Orchid. All of our finalists are continuing to grow their businesses post-LiON’S LAIR and continue to make an impact on Hamilton’s economy!
Our other signature events – including the iF Lunch ‘n Learns, Sales Peer2Peers, and The Big DiF – continued to provide unique opportunities for those in our ecosystem to learn about entrepreneurship, build their networks, and discover local innovations.
This time last year we were patting ourselves on the back for launching The Forge accelerator at McMaster Innovation Park; this year we’ve celebrated the opening of a second Forge location – The Forge Downtown! We’re excited to build upon our partnership with McMaster University in expanding our campus-linked accelerator space and programming for youth entrepreneurs in Hamilton.
Lastly – with the help of input from attendees at this year’s HIVEX: Connect conference – we launched the Beta version of a web application called HamOntConnect.com. The platform is designed to help iF clients and community members alike share ‘asks’ for things they need assistance with, and facilitate connections with people who have the expertise or networks to help. We anticipate it being a great connector in #HamOnt!
Of course, these achievements and milestones simply would not be possible without the support of our incredible 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 2016. We have a brand awareness campaign launching mid-January (insert link to teaser page), our new ELEV8 pitch competition with bigger prizes and higher stakes to look forward to, an influx of new clients with innovative ideas, and – as always – growing collaborations within our ecosystem.
Wishing you and yours all the best in 2016!