Hello and Happy New Year!
What a year! 2016 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, and introduced a new community pitch competition called ELEV8 – I can say I’m truly happy 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. An industry we’ve seen more clients come from has been the food space, which is fitting when looking at Hamilton’s booming culinary scene. With having so many food-related innovators on board and a number of them sharing similar challenges, our team launched The Food Forum – a peer group that brings together entrepreneurs and industry experts to discuss common challenges in the food industry, and to learn best practices.
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 third annual Synapse Life Science Competition in 2016 – with the goal of continuing to drive life science innovations out of lab and into market – and had many impressive applicants flood in. TopSpin 360 was the first place winner of $40k in cash and in-kind prizing for their multi-planar, neuro-muscular training device that helps improve neck muscle responsiveness to sudden head accelerations that can result in concussions. Virtual Possibilities and Provant took home second and third prizes, respectively.
Our LiON’S LAIR competition was back for a sixth year as well, and we had a fantastic batch of finalists who faced our Lions to compete for $165,000 in prizing. This year’s winners included Nix Sensor Ltd., Nuts for Cheese and Zippyjamz by Laifa Baby. 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.
Lastly, we introduced the ELEV8 pitch competition, which is a showcase of eight of our thriving startups that takes place three times per year. The pitch night is open to the public and provides our partners and community members with a sneak peek at up-and-coming innovators.
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.
Wishing you and yours all the best in 2017!