Following the announcement of funding for new programs, QPI sought a more strategic location and underwent a name change (QPI was formerly known as the Office of Partnerships and Innovation). Last October, Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation (QPI) officially moved into the Seaway Coworking building. And what a year it’s been!
Within two weeks of our move into the new space, we held our first workshop – “Early Stage Companies: From Taxi to Takeoff” facilitated by seasoned manufacturing industry advisor, Charlie Reid, P.Eng.
Our first WE-CAN event in the workshop space had a great turnout! Sarah Shu of Wrise presented “Financial Forecasting for Women Entrepreneurs” for a room of engaged women in November 2020. From there, many more workshops were rolled out through the end of 2019 and into 2020.
The strategic location in the heart of downtown allows easy access for the community and our partners. The Kingston Economic Development Corporation is only two clocks away on King Street and, within the Seaway Coworking space, we have partners and collaborators including Launch Lab, the Southeastern Ontario Angel Network, St. Lawrence College, and RateHub. This co-location has been great for developing projects such as the Switchboard innovation ecosystem mapping tool and for organizing events/workshops and providing robust resources for our clients.
Within a month of moving into Seaway Coworking, we held our first event that filled our workshop space to capacity! Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) partnered with ENCQOR and CENGN to deliver a “How 5G and Next Generation Networks Programs Will Accelerate Your Business” to a room of over 55 people.
“It was great to see such a large turnout for the OCE event – it really reinforced that the decision to move into the space downtown was the right one,” says Janice Mady, Director Research & Innovation Partnerships with QPI.
In February 2020, RateHub CEO and Queen’s alumnus Alyssa Furtado was the keynote speaker of Compass North kick-off, an arrangement made possible through networking within the Seaway Coworking space.
In addition to providing workshops for entrepreneurs and the Compass North acceleration program for women entrepreneurs, QPI has launched additional acceleration programs including the Wings Acceleration program and the Growth Acceleration program.
But the real success of the move to Seaway Coworking has been in the connections among coworkers and companies. Having common spaces where members of the Queen’s Startup Runway can connect, and network to learn what others do on a more personal level, as well as participate in fun activities like trivia, has created great synchronicities.
“PRISM Systems has benefited greatly from having the opportunity to incubate in the Queen’s University’s Partnerships and Innovation space. We were introduced to the Ontario Centres of Excellence and were accepted into its CENGN program. The program has provided us a tremendous opportunity to test our platform's scaling capabilities and to also bring on two interns. Working at the [Queen’s Startup Runway space within Seaway Coworking] has allowed us to develop close relationships with other startups, which has led to numerous new projects over the past year,” says CEO and Founder John Garofalo.
Despite the shutdown of business due to COVID-19, QPI has not been deterred from offering programs and workshops online. The administration of Seaway Coworking was also an important player in keeping the community engaged with weekly trivia games as well as interesting workshops to keep members connected.
“It is crucial for early stage startups to continue to have access to the virtual workshops provided by QPI and collaborators as well as access to the workspaces and meeting rooms available at Seaway Coworking in order to keep their ventures moving forward during this time,” says Rick Boswell, Assistant Director, Programs and Operations with QPI.
While QPI staff are still working from home, Seaway Coworking has opened its doors to Queen’s Startup Runway incubation clients to allow them access to the space and resources needed to conduct their business with various pandemic checks in place to ensure the safety of our clients.
“As we come to the end of this, our first year together, it is important to reflect on how much has been achieved. As the founding member of Seaway Coworking, Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation was the critical spark that gave entrepreneurs a modern downtown Kingston hub to access the resources of our local start up ecosystem, says AJ Keilty, President and CEO of Keilty Realty Corporation, which is the umbrella company of Seaway Coworking space. “Their team’s continuing support through programming, mentoring, and connection is transforming ideas into real revenue. As this community continues to grow and thrive we are so fortunate to have the opportunity to serve it, but also for ourselves to learn daily from the dynamic people within it. It’s amazing what can be achieved when we work together. We’re so excited for the future of this community!”