February 22, 2013

By John Hayden, Manager, Enterprise Programs, Northumberland CFDC

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), Oshawa, is currently expanding its reach into Northumberland County.  As part of our commitment to supporting innovation and knowledge commercialization pathways, Northumberland CFDC is working to enhance and expand new partnerships with UOIT in entrepreneurial development and applied R&D collaboration with local industry.  For example, UOIT is involved in FedDev Ontario Applied Research and Commercialization (ARC) funded advanced manufacturing projects - such as the one undertaken recently with UniTrak.  UOIT student entrepreneurs are locating gaming, IT and software startups in Northumberland and at the IdeaHub in the Municipality of Port Hope - including Xen Impact.  The IdeaHub (Northumberland's business incubator) is a public-private partnership originally funded via the Government of Canada's Community Adjustment Fund (CAF) and it is currently humming with startup activity!

Dr. Michael Owen (Vice-President, Research, Innovation & International at UOIT) sits on the Business Incubator Management Advisory Committee (BIMAC) and has helped the incubator go on to create almost 50 jobs.  The incubator currently sits at an impressive 80% occupancy rate, and 75% of tenant companies are Northumberland CFDC clients through such programs as:  Scientists and Engineers in Business (SEB) initiative; Eastern Ontario Development Program (EODP); Ontario Self-Employment Benefit (OSEB); and, of course, the Community Futures Core Lending Program.

Recently, Northumberland CFDC launched a new entrepreneurship competition with Spark Centre, Northumberland's Regional Innovation Centre.  N100 challenges startups to compete for early-stage investment of up to $100,000.  We are expecting more spin-off companies and student-entrepreneurs to choose Northumberland as their destination and Northumberland CFDC and our partners (including the Northumberland Manufacturers Association) for business development, commercialization and strategy consulting services.  The role played by Ontario universities, such as UOIT (through Tech Transfer, Capstone, internship and other outreach programs), will no doubt continue to expand in an ever changing and highly competitive innovation-driven global economy.