We’re once again set to enter a virtual LiONS LAIR, and even though the competition remains online, the stakes are just as high.

The 2021 edition of LiONS LAIR, presented by longtime partners Innovation Factory, will pit 16 upstart entrepreneurial teams against each other during a virtual competition slated for late-September. The winners will receive $30,000, while second place will earn $15,000. A people’s choice recipient, voted on during the competition, will take home $2,500.

Teams will pitch three Pillar of Business LiONS serving as judges, and compete head-head in a single elimination tournament. Myself and two other local business leaders, Aaron Gillespie (tax partner, KPMG) and Chantel Broten (president & CEO, Jan Kelley), are reprising our roles in the LAIR.

It’s been more than a decade since Gowling WLG first partnered with the Hamilton-based pitch competition – one that merges entrepreneurship with innovation in an exciting and fast-paced forum. As always, we’re pleased to be involved in event that spotlights Canada’s exceptional accomplishments in research and innovation, while also encouraging and supporting homegrown start-ups from a variety of sectors.

In a larger sense, the event is a perfect fit for Gowling WLG. Part of our mission in Hamilton is to accelerate growth and innovation through partnerships and collaboration.  We’re also keen to support efforts that help keep entrepreneurial Canadian companies – along with their research and manufacturing – here in Canada.

On that note, here are three helpful tips new Canadian business should consider as they look to commercialize their inventions:

Think about commercialization vs licensing

Are you well-equipped to develop and market a technology or innovation on your own? Would it be more fruitful to go the licensing route with an established commercial party? This is a key factor to consider when commercializing any new invention.

Take a look at governance and management

You cannot possibly do everything yourself. It’s important to know what you know, but equally important to know what you don’t know. Whether through an expanded board of directors or the creation of an advisory board, implement a strong governance structure. Also be mindful of skillset gaps in day-to-day management and look to fill those gaps over time. A sound governance and management structure will not only help you grow your business, but it will make your company to more attractive to investors.

Understand the regulatory environment

Gaining a strong understanding of the regulatory framework in which you operate can become a real competitive advantage. Retaining sound legal counsel can help you better understand that framework, which may, in turn, provide a leg-up on industry competitors.

This year’s LiONS LAIR pitch madness competition will take place on September 23. Want to learn more about the finalists? Click here.

Sacha Babic is a partner in Gowling WLG’s Hamilton office. He acts for and advises private sector clients of all sizes (from start-ups to multinationals) with respect to all aspects of corporate and commercial law, with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, corporate organization & restructuring, and private equity.

Amid the global pandemic, businesses in our community are relying on solid legal advice to help them feel confident in rising to the challenges that face them. Gowling WLG Hamilton remains fully available to assist you in finding the right expertise that will take your business from recovery to revival. Connect with one of our legal professionals to learn how we can help you navigate the impacts of COVID-19 and prepare to get back to business as circumstances evolve.


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