Funding targets innovation-based programs

Natasha Baziuk, co-founder of Gryllies

Gryllies uses crickets to redefine protein; Atria harnesses fitness for fundraising; innovative businesses like Atria and Gryllies across the province received a boost of support from the Ontario government on Friday morning in Kingston.

Daiene Vernile, MPP for Kitchener-Centre and parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Research and Innovation, announced $27.8-million over two years in provincial funding for innovation-based programs as part of the Youth Job Strategy. The announcement was made at Queen's University's Innovation Park.

"This additional funding brings our total investment in these programs to more than $80-million," Vernile said during the announcement. "We've already seen results from the strategy and we look forward to building on it. We are very committed to ensuring that our programs are delivering what aspiring entrepreneurs need."

The programs that will see the funding will include the Youth Business Accelerator Program, the Youth Investment Accelerator Fund and SmartStart Seed Fund, Campus-Linked Accelerators and On-Campus Entrepreneurship Activities, and the TalentEdge Internship Program.

On Oct. 1, 2014, the Government of Ontario's Campus-Linked Accelerator program contributed $900,000 to Queen's Innovation Connector and Launch Lab.

Natasha Baziuk, a Queen's chemical engineering graduate, is the co-founder of Gryllies, and used the Queen's Innovation Connector incubation space at Innovation Park after starting her business.

"The biggest thing for us was having the office space, somewhere to go when you're working 40-50 hours a week, it's good to get out of your home," Baziuk said. "When you're a young start up you don't have a lot of funding so having to pay for rent somewhere is out of the question. So this is free space for us to use.

"We have a formal business address when we meet with investors suppliers, partners, they come here, we have conference space, so it gives us an air of professionalism."

Queen's Kinesiology grad, Adam Beaudoin, 22, is the chief business development officer of Atria. He and his business is a product of the GrindSpace XL12-week entrepreneurship training. The program has helped his business through its growing pains of getting started.

"There's a great resource here called PARTEQ that has been great for the legal side as we grow and incorporate and have questions about contracts, that's been wonderful," Beaudoin said. "With (Ontario Centres of Excellence) we've applied for grants, it has a lot of great information, questions you can ask and they'll have answers very quickly which is very efficient."