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Last updated: Jan 22, 2018 5:48 am

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QICSI opens up to the community

The annual Summer Initiative entrepreneurship bootcamp is now allowing non-student ventures the opportunity to be mentored by Queen’s.

New ventures seeking support in Kingston have a new resource available to help them get their businesses launched. The annual Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) program is being expanded, with a new stream being added to welcome community ventures to the program.

An entrepreneur looks at a board full of possibilities.
An entrepreneur looks at a board full of possibilities. (Supplied Photo)

Traditionally, QICSI supports only Queen’s students through its summer bootcamp by linking them with seed funding, a stipend, and intensive training and mentorship to further their venture. This year, QICSI will also open up new spots for community ventures who will also receive funding and support to help their business.

Community ventures participating in QICSI 2018:

Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth: Collaborates with Indigenous communities across Canada, empowering youth through locally developed trades-based education to strengthen Individuals’ and communities’ futures.
AquaSwift: A water analytics company focused on providing water organizations and rural homeowners an effective way to track and monitor their water levels. 
Firefi Loyalty: A lower cost alternative to expensive loyalty programs that actually rewards you for spending money at the places you love.
CTRLGate: A security startup that focuses on community management software for gated communities, tracking each visitor and service worker entering and exiting a community while providing reporting tools in the event of an incident. 
Illumirnate: A portable environmental solution to current medical systems that provide oxygen. 
PhysioNow: A mobile interactive application for the treatment of back pain as an alternative to in-clinic physiotherapy to address the disparities that exist among chronic pain patients and empower these patients.

“This is the natural evolution for us – taking the QICSI model and expanding it out to include the community,” says Greg Bavington (Sc’85), Executive Director of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC). “Queen’s is a key driver in Kingston’s innovation ecosystem, and using what we have to help more ventures succeed is another way we are demonstrating our leadership and expertise.”

In addition to the Queen’s student teams who join the bootcamp, six local ventures qualified for a place in QICSI 2018 after their strong performance in the Fall Pitch Competition. Next, these companies will interview with the DDQIC before a final decision is made. One of the competitors includes Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth – a not-for-profit which previously received funding from the DDQIC.

In addition to expanding the bootcamp, the DDQIC is supporting a number of community ventures and Queen’s student ventures who are simply seeking funding. Recently, the centre gave $30,000 to five local ventures who applied for support through the Fall Regional Pitch Competition. The companies funded include startups like Savori, Lukabox, and Spectrum Academy, and QICSI alumni Monetta Technologies and Lowegistics Agrictulture.

“The new funding allows us to expand our alpha test and hire a software development intern over the 2018 summer,” says Thiago De Oliveira (Sci’17), one of the original co-founders of Monetta. “We are scheduled to release the second prototype sometime in the next three months and have sent an early version out to the 64 alpha teams that have signed up before the end of the year.”

Similar to the Fall Pitch Competition, the DDQIC will also be hosting a Winter Pitch Competition where funding will be available to local ventures seeking support.

The 2018 QICSI bootcamp will begin in May. For more information on QICSI and Winter Pitch Competition timelines, visit queensu.ca/innovationcentre

Want to learn more about QICSI? Watch this short video: