Accelerator Centre Launches first Cohort in Clean Tech Program

In September, the Accelerator Centre welcomed three companies into the inaugural cohort of a new clean tech accelerator program. The pilot project, which is operated in partnership with Sustainable Waterloo Region and the funding by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, aims to incubate and support companies that are innovating in the sustainable technologies, smart buildings, and renewable energy industries. The new theme of the AC’s flagship Accelerator Program brings space, specialized resources, and mentorship to clean tech companies looking to build and scale their business and drive the clean economy in Waterloo region.

While the program is currently run out of the AC’s Waterloo Headquarters, it will soon move into an exciting new space within Canada’s first net positive office building, evolv1, currently under construction by the Cora group in the R+T Park. The new innovation space within that building, named evolvGREEN, will house a community of local startups, government officials, academic institutions, and industry partners that are committed to supporting a sustainable economy and workplace wellness – the perfect home for entrepreneurs looking to make waves in the clean tech space.

We at Sustainable Waterloo Region are so thrilled to be part of this project. partnering with the Accelerator Centre and Ontario Trillium Foundation, we are working together to foster an increase in clean technology in a one of a kind sustainable building, the Cora Group’s evolv1. This project is a big step to proving what is possible in sustainable business, building and creating a clean economy. – Tova Davidson, Executive Director, Sustainable Waterloo Region

The first three companies within the program are ElectransTech, Livescape, and PFX solutions.

Electrans Technologies Ltd.
Brian Fan, Product Development Manager

Brian Fan is the Product Development Manager of Electrans Technologies Ltd. which targets a unique angle on the future of hybrid transportation. Focusing on transport trucks, his company has built the platform to essentially turn transports into hybrid, electric vehicles by applying battery and electric motor to the axle of the vehicle. The idea is to use the same type of technologies that companies like Tesla, to that of the current trucking industry to improve fuel efficiencies.
Brian joined the company in June, and has numerous years of experience as a mechanical engineer focusing on sustainability in the automotive industry. As someone who has worked in automotive R & D for upwards of 10 years and spent time in technology incubators in Taiwan and in Paris, France– he compared the experience in the Accelerator Centre experience by saying that he appreciates the structure and the accountability everyone is held to, like having homework, due dates and regular meetings with mentors. “The sense of community and support is overwhelming and we are looking forward to progressing through the Clean Tech program and launching proof of concept and the prototype in the next year— 2018.”

Ashley Demarte, CEO

Livescape is a botanical design and installation company specializing in living wall and green roof solutions for corporate, commercial, institutional, and custom projects. Ashley and her team offer green wall and roof systems from a range of suppliers, tailoring to the unique needs of their clients. The company also offers full maintenance services to keep various projects lush and beautiful for years to come.

With over 15 years of experience working with tropical and native plants and a lifelong passion for green design, Ashley launched her own company, Livescape, in 2015. It was a natural evolution for the driven entrepreneur, who has earned a name for herself as “The Crazy Plant Lady”.

Equipped with years of experience in green roof and living wall systems, design, installation, and maintenance, Ashley’s work is highly praised by her clients and colleagues. Her passion, expertise, and dedication have earned her a loyal client base across Southern Ontario.

Nicole McCallum, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer

Utilizing a patent-pending engineering advancement to convert PET plastic waste into filaments that can be used in 3D-printers, remain durable, and even conduct electricity. They transform plastic water bottles into prosthetic limbs, solar panels, and more. Currently, Recycl3D using the filaments to 3D-print prosthetic limbs through their non-profit entity, RECYCL3D Planet, in collaboration with head of the bio-medical engineering department at the SSN Institute in Chennai, India, and a research team of 7 additional engineers. Their biomedical engineering team have advanced motion functionality beyond existing prosthesis capacity in the market. In addition, with its unique conductive properties, the extruded-sheet rolls will be used to 3D print solar panels, in partnership with researchers at Newcastle University in Australia.

Visit Sustainable Waterloo Region’s website for more details on the local clean economy and the AC’s program page for more information on the clean tech pilot program.

We’re Hiring! Director, External Relations and Strategic Initiatives

The Accelerator Centre is seeking a highly qualified, passionate and accomplished leader to develop, lead and
help implement strategic initiatives that support the vision, goals and short and long-term plans of our fast
paced, dynamic and entrepreneurial organization. The ideal candidate must be a self-starter with a critical eye,
excellent communication skills, a proven ability to multi-task and take on projects and initiatives with limited

Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer, the Director of External Relations and Strategic Initiatives will be
responsible for government and investor relations, grant/proposal writing, corporate and other contributions and
the planning and execution of strategic initiatives.


  • Overall responsibility for ongoing sustainable funding of the Accelerator Centre.
  • Plan and coordinate the execution of strategic initiatives that support the continued growth of the Accelerator Centre including the establishment of new locations and programs.
  • Serve as a strong advocate and resource for all Accelerator Centre locations, with management of all associated funding.
  • Build strong and trusting relationships with the Board of Directors, Chief Executive Officer, other Accelerator Centre Directors, employees, consultants and other key stakeholders.
  • Facilitate the strategic and operational planning process for the Accelerator Centre.
  • Foster, develop, and liaise with key stakeholders including industry, government and community partners to advance the development of strategic relationships and funding objectives.
  • Collaborate with stakeholders on the preparation of joint grant proposals.
  • Proactively monitor, analyze and interpret current and upcoming government initiatives, programs, legislation and activities and provide advice on key funding opportunities for the Accelerator Centre.
  • Effectively communicate and promote the Accelerator Centre’s strategic and business plans with all levels of government, and ensure direct alignment with, and support of, their efforts to create successful and impactful accelerators and incubators that boost the Canadian economy.
  • Identify public and private funding opportunities for the Accelerator Centre; drive the development of proposal and grant strategies and concepts that directly support the opportunities and needs of the organization and its clients.
  • Develop proposals and grants by assembling information including project context, key objectives/outcomes/deliverables, implementation, methods, timetable, staffing, budget, standards of performance, and evaluation; write, revise, and edit drafts including executive summaries, conclusions, and organization credentials.
  • Work closely with the Accelerator Centre employees who support external relations and the implementation of strategic initiatives.
  • Execution of other duties as assigned by the CEO.


  • A minimum of five years of stakeholder/government relations or related experience, including working and communicating with senior executives.
  • A minimum of five years managing a team with direct reports, budgets, and project plans
  • Proven track record for securing new public and private sector investment, and leading the development of winning proposals and grant applications.
  • Well established relationships with, key elected officials, bureaucrats, decision-makers and influencers across all three levels of government
  • Demonstrated ability to influence and execute strategic deliverables, including the conceptualization, development, launch and management of new programs and projects.
  • Well-developed interpersonal skills, and the ability to effectively convey factual and conceptual information on issues requiring detailed explanation and interpretation.
  • Exceptional relationship building skills and political savviness/agility.
  • The ability to serve as an effective and credible spokesperson for the Accelerator Centre.
  • Strong negotiation skills.
  • Well-developed writing skills sufficient to creatively and precisely articulate ideas and opinions that involve analysis, interpretation, and assessment.
  • Sound judgment and problem-solving skills.
  • Strong oral and written communications skills.
  • Ability to work both independently and within a team environment to achieve business objectives.
  • Proven project and program management skills, including the ability to lead, work effectively with a team to develop and execute work plans.

Please apply with your resume and cover letter to

View the full job description here.

The Accelerator Centre is committed to fostering a diverse community that is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs from all backgrounds.

A full range of perspectives, lifestyles, and passions are key to creating the inclusive, entrepreneurial environment that is necessary to help our clients build and scale globally competitive companies. Diversity and inclusion at the Accelerator Centre means we are dedicated to the elimination of discrimination, in all its forms, at all levels of our organization and in our programming.

We welcome applications from qualified candidates of all backgrounds regardless of age, physical ability, gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation. We will provide any requested accommodation to candidates with disabilities throughout the recruitment process. If you require assistance, please contact noting the job title in the subject line of the email.




The Accelerator Centre Will Welcome Minister Bardish Chagger to the AC to Celebrate Local Startups and Announce Cohort 7 of the AC JumpStart Program

Media Release

November 7, 2017

To Celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Accelerator Centre will welcome the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Minister of Small Business and Tourism and Member of Parliament for Waterloo, for our annual AC JumpStart signature event, SPARK, on November 14, 2017.

AC JumpStart is an innovative seed funding and mentorship program, funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), aimed at helping technology startups establish and grow their business in southern Ontario. The annual SPARK event highlights some of the brightest entrepreneurial prospects in the Waterloo Region and gives the community early access to these up-and-coming startups.

Companies who have received the AC JumpStart grant within the last year will present their technology in a fair style showcase and will compete for “investment dollars” from the audience. The three startups with the most “investment” will get three minutes to present their startup to the audience. The top startup will take home a cash prize provided by our AC JumpStart sponsor, Gowling WLG.

“We are excited to showcase some of Waterloo’s top up and coming technology companies. Through our partnership with FedDev Ontario, we are helping accelerate businesses through providing essential early stage financing, in addition to the Accelerator Centre’s renowned mentoring program. As a result, Waterloo startups are building better products faster, getting sales traction, and developing a solid foundation to aid them through growth to scale because of this program.” – Clinton Ball, Director of Client Program and Initiatives

SPARK is open to the public and members of the community and local media are welcome.

Please visit our website for more detail or to register to attend.

For more information contact:

Tabatha Laverty
Community Manager


Introducing Startup Studio: Affordable Marketing and Design Services for Startups

On a daily basis, startups prove that small is mighty. Your team’s concentration of brainpower and ability to pivot is what makes mighty corporations shake. The flip side of having a small team is that you have to make tough decisions regarding which skills you will curate for your team. Here in Waterloo Region, most teams focus their skills in business, engineering and computer science, often leaving a gap in marketing and design.

To close this gap, the AC has partnered with the University of Waterloo – Stratford and CDMN to create a marketing and design agency within the AC and provide marketing and design services to startups at an affordable price.

Lead by experienced AC staff, we’ve brought in third and fourth year students to become the studio’s first designers. They’ve brought with them a background of marketing, UX & UI design, video editing and branding.

Collaborations with the Startup Studio take two forms:

  1. One day design sprints. Sprints are all about helping companies zero in on a problem and discovering a solution to that problem in one day. Through the sprint process, they develop strategic solutions ranging from digital product and web design to establishing the startup’s brand and corresponding marketing campaigns. Clients walks away with wireframes they can use to implement the solutions.
  2. Implementation. After going through the sprint process clients have the choice to implement the design with their own designer or to hire the Startup Studio to complete the project. From building websites, cutting together videos, creating print and digital marketing collateral – the studio has built a large portfolio of work.

After a successful pilot through the summer, we are happy to bring this service to our clients and to open it up to the local startup community as a whole. 

Visit the Startup Studio page to learn more or book your design sprint.

We’re Hiring! Administrative Assistant: 14 Month Contract

Please read application instructions carefully. Only applications sent through the portal linked at the bottom of the job description will be considered.


The Accelerator Centre is a dynamic and innovative work environment that provides employees opportunity for growth and development. We pay competitively as a not for profit in the incubator sector. We offer a flexible work environment that is focused on aligning individual strengths and passion, with the needs of our clients. One of the most exciting aspects of working at the Accelerator Center is exposure to leading edge technology and an inspiring and progressive entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Reporting to the Program & Executive Administrator the Administrative Assistant is the “executive of first impressions” and the face of the AC to all resident companies, stakeholders and visitors. This position will play a critical role in ensuring that front reception, and our facilities (meeting rooms, common areas and client spaces) are maintained with a World-Class approach and attitude.  Other responsibilities include supporting program administration, events, and one-to-many programming sessions.


Guest Services:

  • Manage first impressions – reception duties, greet guests, direct visitors and respond to client company needs and inquires.
  • Assist clients, staff and visitors with meeting room requests including, but not limited to; setting up calendar bookings, confirming facility availability, correcting booking conflicts, room transfers, A/V set up, arranging catering and facility rental orders delivery and set up.
  • Maintain visitor management software and host list.
  • Triage facility and client requests and provide direction or assistance for incoming inquiries.
  • Assist with coordination of internal/social committee activities, supporting community organizations and charitable opportunities.
  • Be the Chief Everything Officer (CEO), find opportunity in every task and support the company and team.

Client Experience

  • Manage first impressions – direct visitors and respond to client company needs and inquires
  • Monitor client movements within the facility including preparation of space, suite signage and access/security passes
  • Coordinate one-to-many programming days including calendars/RSVP, catering, greeting & supporting guest speakers and technical needs
  • Support the client companies from onboarding through to program completion including engagement with mentors
  • Make programming and event recommendations to Director, Programs and Initiatives based on observations and client conversations
  • Manage the administrative aspects of the Accelerator Centre JumpStart Program and Startup Visa Program


  • Assist with the administration of internal process and procedures.
  • Assist with the management of client and stakeholder contact information
  • Manage and reconcile petty cash and complete bi-weekly cheque deposits
  • Assist with the organization of the electronic filing system
  • Process mail, courier and packages for all resident companies and tenants. Notify external parties of their shipments
  • Route phone calls to corresponding parties including staff and clients
  • Maintain meeting rooms and common areas and manage all aspects of the networking area
  • Monitor and stock community supplies in the kitchen, meeting rooms and copier room
  • Provide assistance with tours of facility to prospective clients, guests and industry partners
  • Oversee vendor relationships with suppliers for janitorial, office supplies, security, IT and service providers to provide continual support for clients
  • Assist with events – communications, RSVP lists, food & beverage and technical needs as required
  • Order supplies for staff requirements. Office supplies, food & drinks, IT requirements, etc
  • Troubleshoot photocopier, A/V and IT issues for staff and clients


  • At least 5 years of administrative experience
  • Post-secondary education/related experience in administration, reception, operations, or related disciplines
  • Conducts business with a professional, upbeat attitude, leading by example with a positive team attitude in all aspects
  • Strong commitment to providing exceptional customer experiences for clients, visitors and industry partners
  • Clear verbal and written communication skills
  • Assertive, confident and thrives under pressure
  • Excellent organizational, trouble-shooting, and interpersonal skills

The Accelerator Centre is committed to fostering a diverse community that is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs from all backgrounds.

A full range of perspectives, lifestyles, and passions are key to creating the inclusive, entrepreneurial environment that is necessary to help our clients build and scale globally competitive companies. Diversity and inclusion at the Accelerator Centre means we are dedicated to the elimination of discrimination, in all its forms, at all levels of our organization and in our programming.

We welcome applications from qualified candidates of all backgrounds regardless of age, physical ability, gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation. We will provide any requested accommodation to candidates with disabilities throughout the recruitment process. If you require assistance, please contact noting the job title in the subject line of the email.


Please submit applications, including a resume and cover letter, via the link below. Applications close September 15th at 5pm. Only applications submitted through the link below will be considered.

We appreciate all applications, however, only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted. No phone calls, please.

Media Release: The Accelerator Centre Relaunches Startup Visa Program

Waterloo (Ontario), CANADA, July 17, 2017

The Accelerator Centre (AC) is pleased to announce the relaunch of its Startup Visa Program. As an approved business incubator for Canada’s premier international entrepreneur recruitment program, the AC has become one of a select group of certified technology incubators who can endorse foreign entrepreneurs and help them establish their businesses in Canada.

Canada’s Startup Visa Program, which is the first of its kind worldwide, was originally launched in 2014 and was relaunched in April of 2017 with the government’s renewed focus on attracting international talent through the Global Skills Strategy and building Canada’s reputation as a leader in technology and innovation. The program provides permanent residency to innovative startup entrepreneurs who want to build companies in Canada that can create new jobs, spur economic growth and compete on a global scale.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship knows no geographic boundaries,” says Paul Salvini, CEO of the Accelerator Centre.  “The Accelerator Centre is recognized worldwide for its programming and mentorship. As a certified member of Canada’s Startup Visa Program, we can leverage our world class programming to help more entrepreneurs develop businesses that inspire global leadership.”

Entrepreneurs that are accepted into the Startup Visa Program through the AC will locate their businesses within one of the accelerator’s four locations in the Toronto Waterloo Corridor and will participate in the AC’s world renowned Accelerator Program to ensure they have the best chance at sustaining global success.

Applications for the Accelerator Centre Startup Visa Program open July 17, 2017.

Learn more about Start-up Visa Program, visit our website.

About the Accelerator Centre

The Accelerator Centre® (AC) is dedicated to building and commercializing technology start-ups. The AC provides an essential combination of mentorship, educational programming, professional office space, networking, and access to funding, with a goal of building successful companies. Over a two year period, we help entrepreneurs move from startup to scale, accelerate their time to market, and attract customers, investment, and revenue.

Since 2006, the Accelerator Centre has developed and nurtured over 200 early-stage technology start-ups, creating 2100+ new jobs, and generating more than $550 million in revenue. The 55 companies have graduated from the Accelerator Program represent some of the biggest named in the Canadian technology ecosystem.

For further information, please contact:
Tabatha Laverty
Community Manager
Accelerator Centre


Tech and The Arts at 44 Gaukel

When we opened our Hardware and Advanced Manufacturing Lab almost a year ago, we wanted to build a place where the Arts, technology, and broader community could come together and support each other. Expanding our operations into the Kitchener downtown core allowed us to have a deeper impact in the Waterloo Region beyond supporting tech startups and companies. Being located in the core of downtown comes with unique opportunities to work with organizations that strive to improve the everyday well-being of youth and underprivileged groups and we’ve welcomed the opportunity to expand our impact on the community through the programs in the building.

One of the core mandates when opening the facility was to create an Arts and Tech collision space. Partnering with ArtsBuild Ontario meant that the floor would be inhabited not only by hardware and IoT startups, but also arts organizations and freelancers. ArtsBuild Ontario also facilitates a rehearsal space, which has seen more than 700 booked hours since we opened our doors officially in the September of 2016.

Along with the internal Arts & Culture community within the building, we’ve also connected with the larger Arts community in the Waterloo Region. We partnered with ArtShine/Arts4All, a local organization that provides Arts programs to groups that might not normally be able to afford them, to create a brand-new gallery space in the building. The O Gallery @ 44, opened on May 25th, 2017 with more than 150 pieces of art from students, refugees, and freelance artists. The gallery opening was an incredible success and brought hundreds of people through the space to showcase the work being done here by both the arts and technology communities.

In addition to the partnerships we’ve formed with the arts community, the Accelerator Centre has also developed a strong connection with the charity organizations House of Friendship and Junior Achievers. The House of Friendship held their February team meeting in the Lounge at Gaukel and then had a full tour of the space where they were able to learn more about both the technologies being developed here and the arts community. Some of the AC companies even have begun discussions with the House of Friendship to help volunteer at some of their summer camps and events. Junior Achievers will be holding their summer camps at the facility in July and August and working with resident company InkSmith.

Expanding our operations into the Kitchener downtown core has allowed us to have a deeper impact in the Waterloo Region beyond supporting tech startups and companies. At 44 Gaukel, we’ve taken the opportunity to better support hardware, IoT and advanced manufacturing startups, and used it to connect with the Arts, as well as work with local charities and NGOs. If you’re interested in learning more about the organizations we mentioned or to donate to their causes, please check out their websites:


House of Friendship

Junior Achievers

As well, if you’d like to know more about how to rent the rehearsal or classroom space, check out Space Finder Waterloo Region or contact Eilidh Fisher at

Bringing Startups Together: Collaboration at the Hardware Innovation Lab

When we opened our Advanced Manufacturing and Hardware Innovation Lab in Kitchener, our vision was to create a space where hardware companies could learn and grow their businesses, together. Some great companies have move in and the space is now becoming a place where hardware and IoT companies can use their different expertise to collaborate and help each other.

A great example these unique collaboration opportunities is Kineris Inc. When Kineris, a medtech company and AC JumpStart recipient, began work on the first prototype of their knee wearable in February, it became a project for the whole floor. The plan was to 3D print the prototype but one component was a flexible band that would allow easy motion of the knee, but they had never 3D printed with flexible material. After attempting to make it themselves without success, Kineris recruited help from our partners MyShop and later, fellow AC client, InkSmith, to get the settings just right on the 3D printer to make the band. All three companies worked together on this piece and now Kineris’ prototype looks fantastic and is ready to be shown to clients and investors.

Some of these collisions are by design. Having met AC mentor Don Thompson at Innovation Guelph, AceAge, a pharmaceutical IoT company, decided to join the Accelerator Program and moved into Gaukel at the start of 2017. The first people they were introduced to was fellow AC company and Gaukel resident, InkSmith, a 3D printer company that provides a STEAM 3D printing platform for schools K-12.

Don knew that InkSmith would be the right people to help AceAge get their first batch of devices. InkSmith was contracted to make the devices and saved AceAge more than $20,000 in production costs. “Without the services of InkSmith, we simply would not have been able to perform at clinical study at the University of Toronto” said CEO Spencer Waugh.

The best collisions at Gaukel happen purely by accident. Since mid-January, Friday Happy Hours have become a staple event. At 4pm, the whole floor takes a break to celebrate another successful and productive week. It gives everyone a chance to unwind after working insane hours and brings all the companies together to get to know each other and talk shop. Often held in Alert Labs’ office, you’ll find George from Alert Labs sharing contacts that other companies may find useful, Ashank from XYZ Interactive giving technical advice, and Josh from MyShop explaining cool ways to build things (along with donning his latest shirt creation).
One night in March, after a particularly busy Happy Hour, the founders of AceAge and O2 Canada met for nearly three hours late on a Friday, discussing brand new markets for their respective products.

If you want to learn more about the Advanced Manufacturing and Hardware Innovation Lab and maybe even join us for a Happy Hour, please contact David Hussey at

Accelerator Centre Celebrates the Breaking Ground on a New Building and in Clean Technologies

Today, with our partners from the Cora Group, the City of Waterloo, Sustainable Waterloo Region, University of Waterloo and Laurier, we proudly celebrated the groundbreaking on a new, innovative building within the R+T Park.

Evolv1, a 100,000 square foot facility located at 420 West Graham Way, is the first multi-tenanted building of its kind in Canada. With a focus on sustainability and the clean technologies, the building will be built with LEED Platinum principles and will operate with the goal of being net positive. Being net positive means the building generates more than enough energy to maintain heating, cooling, and power needs. The excess energy is then put back into the system through the provincial grid or used for other, on-site purposes like such as electric vehicle power stations (of which the building will have 14).


Continuing to foster innovation in the Waterloo tech community is central to the vision and mission of the Accelerator Centre. As a partner in the development of the Evolv1 space, we are proud to be leading the development and operation of a 15,000 square foot innovation space within the facility. 5,000 square feet in that innovation space will be home to Accelerator Centre client companies focused on Clean Tech and Smart Cities technology.

“Breaking ground on this building is a major milestone in the development of this vision. We are so grateful for the dedication of the Cora Group and all the partners that are bringing this idea to reality, says Sustainable Waterloo Region Executive Director, Tova Dadvidson says. “One part of the full vision for the building is the creation of an innovation space on the ground floor. This is a space that helps to foster the development of the clean economy that is already growing in Waterloo Region. The building, partnered with the activities and partners in the space, are together truly a local game changer.”

”The space will also be the centre of Canada’s premier clean tech cluster,” explains the AC’s Director of Client Experience and Special Projects, Emily Jackson. “It is intended to restore the Canadian clean economy to a position of global leadership. By providing all the necessary expertise, a collaborative environment, and specialized resources, the Innovation space will support the development of innovations in clean tech.”

Alongside anchor tenant, EY Canada, Accelerator Centre graduate Text Now will take a significant footprint within the building. CEO, Derek Ting, recognizes the unique opportunity to position his company within the innovative facility.

“Evolv1’s proximity to the University of Waterloo puts us right next to one of the most robust talent pipelines in the world,” he says. “We’re constantly looking for ways to attract and retain the very best talent and with our mission, our unique culture and now our plan to reside in one of the coolest work spaces in Waterloo, all of the pieces are coming together.”

With today’s ground breaking ceremony, construction has officially begun and the building first tenants are set to move in sometime in 2018.

The Future of Corporate Innovation: with PwC Canada CEO, Bill McFarland and Paul Salvini

What does industry need in order to innovate in a corporate setting? How can the startup community leverage the opportunities within industry and tackle those big problems?

We recently had the pleasure of hosting PwC Canada’s CEO, Bill McFarland, for an informal discussion with Accelerator Centre CEO, Paul Salvini, to address those questions head-on.

We all know that the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor is at the forefront of Canadian innovation and entrepreneurship, but the region’s commitment to corporate innovation is one of the things that sets us apart from other innovation clusters.

“Waterloo has been quite successful with corporate innovation. The University of Waterloo is a significant source of that success,” says Salvini. “Through their co-op placement programs, 5,400 businesses have been connected with the incredible talent within the university.”

And industry is anxious for access to the talent coming out of the University of Waterloo. According to the recent PwC CEO Survey, 80% of CEOs are thinking about how innovation or disruption will impact their businesses. “We should all be thinking about innovation and about creating a diverse economy that is strong—for our children and for our grandchildren,” adds McFarland.

Often innovation is expected, easy to anticipate and plan for, but increasingly disruption has been the accidental result of improving the customer experience. “With the unprecedented level of disruption in today’s world, innovation has become a necessity and businesses are increasingly investing in R&D and innovation centres to proactively evolve​ and create rich environments to facilitate new thinking​. ​Disruptive innovations are not always planned​ and are more likely to flourish in organizations where challenging the status quo is accepted and encouraged​,” says McFarland. “That’s right,” adds Salvini. “For example, Apple didn’t set out to make a great phone. They set out to improve their media player by adding a phone. It was all about adding value to their customers.”

While there is opportunity for innovation in every industry, entrepreneurs often struggle to get access to meaningful problems and corporations struggle to get ahead of the curve when it comes to disruptive technologies.

Some of the most exciting advances—in areas like AI, quantum computing, cybersecurity, and nanotechnology—have the potential to disrupt multiple industries and provide significant opportunity for entrepreneurs.

“There is incredible research and great ideas coming out of universities, but entrepreneurs need access to big problems to make big impact and they need help commercializing those ideas,” says Salvini.

Corporations face several roadblocks to successful innovation, most commonly:

  • Culture: A management team that resists change or is risk-averse
  • Budget: No resources to work on exploring new technologies or opportunities
  • Talent: Corporations often seem less attractive to top talent than startups
  • Structure: Too many layers that slow down or impede progress

That is where the Accelerator Centre (AC) steps in.

Through our programming and strong connections with industry leaders like PwC, the AC is able to help industry innovate. Whether through offering corporations the ability to market test new ideas and form a spin-off company like Miovision’s “Teal” or through connecting corporate leaders with talent that can help them better anticipate—or even get ahead of—change, the AC is able to help corporate organizations foster a culture of innovation and embrace change.

As the AC continues to support entrepreneurs and leaders like PwC to embrace and lead a culture of innovation, we will continue to lead the way in innovating industry.