York Region's Innovation Centre, ventureLAB, looks to meet local technology entrepreneurs

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ventureLAB extends entrepreneur support services in York Region to include advanced health technology, digital media, information and communications technologies, green energy, clean tech and advanced materials & manufacturing commercialization assistance

ventureLAB York Region Innovation Centre for technology entrepreneur support

ventureLAB - York Region's Innovation Centre

It's challenging, exciting and a pleasure to work with technology entrepreneurs. We know there are many more in York Region and now we want to meet them.”

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ventureLAB, York Region’s non-profit innovation centre is launching an initiative which it hopes will more broadly connect it with its current and potential partners, entrepreneurs and their advisors in the Greater York region.

The GTA's most northerly centre in the Ontario Network of Excellence [ONE], ventureLAB became a part Ontario’s client-focused, province-wide innovation network in 2011. ONE is a program of the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation created to align all of the programs and resources Ontario has to support innovators.

ventureLAB, as the York Region hub of this collaboration, works locally to facilitate mentoring, partnering and connecting advice for innovative small to medium sized and start-up entrepreneurs.

The goal is to help turn their great ideas into globally competitive products and services. Extensive technology entrepreneur support resources for advanced health tech, digital media, information & communications technology [ICT], green energy, clean tech and advanced materials & manufacturing have already made ventureLAB an ideal go-to centre for York Region entrepreneurs in these sectors.

Reaching out to York Region entrepreneurs and innovators is a big undertaking.

With a population near one million residents now, York Region has an annual growth rate of 20% and is home to thousands of high tech companies - over 800 in Markham alone.

"We want to become the leading go-to Regional Innovation Centre in York Region and one of the best in Canada." says Brigitte Sharpe, ventureLAB's Communications and Community Outreach Manager. "If we are to do this we need to inform everyone that we are here to help build an innovation ecosystem in the York Region – one measured by the economic impact of our programs and services that target technology based entrepreneurs starting and growing global enterprises."

To get this done Sharpe is taking ventureLAB on the road with an aggressive outreach to the community. "We feel that not enough people we could help are aware of how ventureLAB could assist them...and we hope to spread the word during this year."

Since last February ventureLAB's many unique programs and entrepreneur boot camps have seen more than nearly a thousand enrolees hosted off site or at their new offices at the Markham Convergence Centre on Warden Avenue in Markham. These, like the successful MedEdge event in Richmond Hill, have had the affect of promoting industry, hospital,academic and government relationships, providing big opportunities for creative innovation collaboration in York Region.

ventureLAB President & CEO, Jeremy Laurin has overall responsibility for ventureLAB's operations, coordinating municipal, regional, provincial and national mandates, innovation programs for entrepreneur development and assisting connections with York Region's largest tech sector giants.

And Laurin feels that ventureLAB is on the right track.

"This past year ventureLAB met with literally hundreds of technology based entrepreneurs throughout York Region and the GTA, inspired, hardworking folks all trying to change the world. It's challenging, exciting and a pleasure to work with technology entrepreneurs. We know there are many more in York Region and now we want to meet them.”

ventureLAB is proud of several new developments.

Recent client research has led to a revamped innovation entrepreneur boot camp called BUILD. Begin, EdUcate, Invest, Launch, and ExpanD facilitated programs for pre-revenue to international level business requirements aim to greatly improve bottom line results.

ventureLAB is also working to spread the word and develop sector sponsored programs in York Region. "These will be tailor made to directly benefit York Region technology enterprises who wish to partner with us and achieve specific outcomes from our innovation BUILD program and mentoring services."

Laurin says that his board, comprised of leading York Region business leaders, visions the MCC building itself as a place where entrepreneurs can reside in, innovate and collaborate together and use its resources to help commercialize their ideas. "We see this as an exciting innovation clubhouse atmosphere, fostering hothouse growth opportunities for entrepreneurs. One ideal outcome would be a successful capital procurement system operating inside of ventureLAB as a provincial incubator.... a first here."

About ventureLAB

ventureLAB is York Region's non-profit innovation centre for advanced health tech, digital media, ICT, green energy, clean tech and advanced materials & manufacturing entrepreneurs.

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Brigitte Sharpe
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