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Boosting women-led tech companies in Kingston and region

Queen’s University and L-SPARK launch acceleration program for Kingston-area technology businesses run by women.

Queen’s alum Alyssa Furtado (co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and CEO of Ratehub.ca) speaks at Compass-North launch
Queen’s alum Alyssa Furtado, co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and CEO of Ratehub.ca, speaks at the launch of Compass North, a new acceleration program specifically designed for women founders in Kingston and region. (Photo by Ashley Clark Media)

Queen’s University and L-SPARK, an Ottawa-based accelerator, announced the launch of Compass North, a new acceleration program specifically designed for women founders in Kingston and region with posted revenues in a technology sector.

It is the first of the new programs unveiled by Queen’s since the Government of Canada, through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund, announced a contribution of $3.2 million to the university to advance its support of women entrepreneurs. Compass North will provide embedded mentorship and matches every founder with a mentor to help plan strategically and reach goals and objectives.

“Queen’s University is delighted to be working with L-SPARK to design and deliver this program, which is part of an overall initiative to help address gaps and build capacity in the entrepreneurship ecosystem for women,” says Janice Mady, Director, Research and Innovation Partnerships at Queen’s. “The new program combines the proven L-SPARK acceleration model with additional features that focus on reducing barriers commonly faced by women entrepreneurs who are building technology-based companies. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Government of Canada through the Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund, delivered in the region by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).”

Compass North will be a cohort-based program that will provide participants with the support of their peers throughout, and an advisory group has been formed to oversee the program, including Shopify’s Global Wellness Specialist Chivon John, Connections Silicon Valley chief executive officer Joanne Fedeyko, and entrepreneur Mallory Rowan.

“Partnering with Queen’s University on this program aimed at women-led technology companies has presented an incredible opportunity for the advancement of women in our startup ecosystem,” says Stef Reid, Senior Marketing Manager at L-SPARK. “Through this program, founders will gain access to hands-on mentorship, strategic training, and access to a tight-knit community of entrepreneurs. We are thrilled to be a part of this initiative, which helps position Canada as a global leader in technology.”

To celebrate the launch, Queen’s and L-SPARK hosted an event featuring Queen’s alum Alyssa Furtado (co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and CEO of Ratehub.ca) as the keynote speaker and an engaging panel of women entrepreneurs who have built or are building successful technology-based companies in Kingston. The expert panel included Peng-Sang Cau, President and CEO of Transformix Engineering Inc.; Anne Vivian-Scott, President and CEO of Kinarm; and Christa Wallbridge, CEO and President of The Power Collective Inc.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Compass North team as a mentor, and look forward to working closely with women founders to help them reach their goals and objectives,” says Cau. “When I first started my own company 24 years ago, I wish there had been the same level of community of support we see for women entrepreneurs today. I encourage eligible applicants to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity!”

Compass North will be the first of many programs and services Queen’s is creating with FedDev Ontario’s contribution, first announced in August 2019. More initiatives are slated for development, and will be designed to accelerate, train, mentor and provide resources to women entrepreneurs and women-led companies in the community, with focus on women entrepreneurs from diverse and underrepresented groups.

Learn more about Compass North and submit an application on the Compass North website. The deadline for submitting an application is March 20, 2020.