LiONS LAIR 2018 applications are open!



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.


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.


The finalists are taken through training sessions intended to strengthen their skills in pitching, developing questions and responses on the fly, and ultimately preparing them to face the Lions. The 15 finalists then present a 2-minute pitch to a panel of judges, from which a top 10 will proceed to pitch to 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.


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!

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