Connecting fans with team sponsors (FanSaves), creating a fitness apparatus for people with mobility issues (Tune n Tone), developing a kinetic resistance apparatus with a variety of uses (Aorte Fitness), and tracking and managing well-water data (AquaSwift) are just a few examples of the ventures joining the 2018 GrindSpaceXL cohort. The GrindSpaceXL program at Queen’s Innovation Park is an intensive 12-week business acceleration program that helps high-potential startups to improve customer traction, grow sales, and prepare for investment. In previous years, eight teams had been chosen to participate in the program, however, due to the high caliber of applicants ten teams in total were chosen for the 2018 program.

GrindSpaceXL applicants were required to submit an online form describing their business. From these submissions, each application was reviewed a minimum of three times by a ten-person review panel. Those that were ranked highest by the panel were invited to pitch their business to a panel of five judges from the local startup community. Following the judging of the pitches, scores were tallied and the top ten companies were selected to become the 2018 GrindSpaceXL cohort.

“This is the sixth GrindSpaceXL cohort to be accelerated by Queen’s and our partners, and we are very pleased to be providing leadership and advice to the incredible caliber of ventures developing in the region and through on campus programs such as those offered by the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC) and the Smith School of Business’ Master of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MMIE),” says Jim Banting, Assistant Vice-Principal at the Office of Partnerships and Innovation (OPI). “We believe that the expertise and resources that we can provide to these entrepreneurs will help them grow their ventures and take them to the next level.”

Included in the 2018 cohort list are several ventures that have participated in other Queen’s University programs. BizSkills Academy, Phoenix Armour, Meta Innovation, StayBillety, and JIC Designs have been participants in the Physical Incubation Program at Innovation Park during 2018. The founder of BizSkills is a graduate of the MMIE program. BizSkills Academy, Durabyte and AquaSwift are recent graduates of DDQIC’s summer program. Durabyte is also a new venture in the Foundry program, a joint initiative between OPI and DDQIC, and AquaSwift, a Picton-based tech company, has received support from OPI and partners Launch Lab and the Southeastern Ontario Angel Network.

During their time in the GrindSpaceXL program, participants will receive a wide variety of support from the Queen’s Office of Partnerships and Innovation, the Queen’s Business Law Clinic, Launch Lab, and Kingston-based accounting firm Secker Ross and Perry LLP, along with the many years of experience of program facilitators, Elza Seregelyi and Andrew Jackson. In addition to these resources, the cohort members will also benefit from interacting with fellow entrepreneurs in weekly discussions.

Once the program is complete, the ventures will still be able to benefit from the many resources available through Innovation Park at Queen’s University, including incubation space.

GrindSpaceXL ventures have often made their first sales during the program, and many have gone on to achieve success in their industries. GrindSpaceXL alumni include Napanee-based FireRein, Kingston-based Mesh-Scheduling Inc. (previously Canarmony), Belleville-based Rillea Technologies, now-Toronto-based RockMass Technologies, and Kingston-based Mero Technologies.

GrindSpaceXL is supported by the National Research Council – Industrial Research Assistance Program, and is just one of the feature programs in the suite of services offered by the Queen’s Office of Partnerships and Innovation, Launch Lab, and the Southeastern Ontario Angel Network under the InnovationXL banner. For companies that do not yet have a product at the prototype or beta stage, InnovationXL also runs DiscoverXL, aimed at ventures in the ideation stage. These partnerships and programs are aimed at advancing and strengthening the Eastern Ontario innovation ecosystem, and accelerating the growth of technology startups and high-potential companies.

The program officially begins on September 10th and will run until early December, when ventures will again pitch their businesses after developing and refining their business models over the three month period.

The 2018 cohort:

Aorte Fitness – A kinetic resistance apparatus that has applications including use by the fitness and defence industries.

AquaSwift – AquaSwift is a water analytics company primarily focused on providing rural households and water organizations an effective way to track and monitor their water via sensor technology.

BizSkills Academy – a virtual start-up accelerator which delivers training programs to early-stage entrepreneurs, connects them to experts, mentors and helps them access seed funding.

Durabyte – a solution to the frequent and expensive turnover of enterprise flash drives by increasing the useful lifespan of these devices using a proprietary algorithm, which optimizes data allocation to decrease flash drive degradation over time.

FanSaves – digital platform that helps increase sponsorship sales and visibility for junior and professional sports teams while growing fan engagement 365 days a year.

JIC Design – sharing of student data across school boards, colleges and schools to improve dual credit and e-learning registration processes for educational institutions.

Meta Innovation Technologies – a multi-platform interactive educational software solution that overcomes the competency gap of new hires and provides on-demand knowledge for continuing professional development.

Phoenix Armour – a composite ballistic armour that is lightweight, breathable, cool, flexible and able to fit virtually any body shape or form and provides unprecedented protection from ballistics, shrapnel, fragments and explosive blasts.

StayBillety – an online accommodation service, connecting like-minded guests and hosts. StayBillety pairs a home sharing model with interests, events and activities.

Tune n’ Tone – an exercise device that supports the building of core strength and can be used by people with limited mobility.