Partnerships and Innovation

Office of Partnerships and Innovation
Office of Partnerships and Innovation

Pilot project looks at startups

Article Date: May 6, 2013

KINGSTON - Local entrepreneurs can look forward to additional resources, as Kingston has been chosen as a pilot community for a new national startup initiative.

Startup Canada Communities, which launched May 2 by non-profit organization Startup Canada, aims to connect entrepreneurs throughout the country with one another. Kingston is serving as one of their 15 pilot communities.

The Startup Canada volunteer team visited Kingston on Sept. 5 as a part of a national town hall tour. Locally, volunteers received feedback about the resources in Kingston and support networks available for those who run startup companies.

Victoria Lennox, co-founder and CEO of Startup Canada, said they found the local support network for entrepreneurs was particularly enthusiastic.

“When there’s so much desire to move in a single direction, that bodes well for success,” she said. “There are several communities in Canada on our national tour that we felt we could kick-start with, and Kingston is one of them.”

The other Ontario cities involved as pilot communities are Ottawa, London and York Region.

The project involves appointing a community leader who will organize social events for entrepreneurs and demo camps to showcase local startups. The Kingston group will also be connected with the 14 other groups across Canada.

Startup Canada Communities has six partners in the city, the key one being Innovation Park, which is affiliated with Queen’s University. Innovation Park currently houses an entrepreneur centre run by KEDCO.

Although she feels the current resources in the city are sufficient, Lennox believes entrepreneurs in the region are apt to move away once their startup is underway.

“The community tells us (entrepreneurs) might be moving to other communities where they feel there will be a critical mass of entrepreneurs supporting them,” she said, adding that oftentimes, local entrepreneurs are students who leave the city once their time at school is finished.

The organization also hopes this program will address concerns about a lack of sense of community among entrepren­eurs who are geographically close.

“From my perspective, it’s just a matter of getting going in Kingston … there’s an appetite for it,” she said.

Lennox identified Canada as one of the best countries in the world in which to start a business and do business.

“There’s definitely something in the water globally. Entrepreneurship and startups are becoming more mainstream, and I think Canada is on the forefront of that.”

Canada’s entrepreneurship tends to be supported by grassroots initiatives instead of government-led ones, Lennox added.

“We need to be careful that we’re doing so well. We can’t be complacent because other countries are moving fast,” she said.

“There’s a lot of work to be done on a more top-down scale.”