NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR PROVES SIZE DOESN’T MATTER – COMMUNITY DOES
St. John’s, NL (July 30, 2012) – Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) may be one of Canada’s smaller entrepreneurial centres, but it showed Startup Canada there is no challenge too big to keep its communities from supporting new business ideas, championing their successes, and laying groundwork for a new generation of entrepreneurs. This is the eighth province Startup Canada has visited as part of its cross-country campaign to celebrate and support entrepreneurship across Canada.
More than 250 members of the local startup and enterprise support sectors gathered for Startup Canada’s events in St. John’s, Corner Brook, Gander and Grand Falls, co-hosted by the Newfoundland & Labrador Association of Technology Industries (NATI). Participants brainstormed community-led solutions to key challenges faced by East Coast and Canadian entrepreneurs.
“The greatest impact the Startup Canada Tour had in Newfoundland and Labrador was in community-building among entrepreneurs here,” said Ron Taylor, CEO of NATI, the NL Provincial Ambassador organization for Startup Canada. “Entrepreneurs from across the province were engaged and connected, and the network that was established will be of incredible value as we move forward to the next steps beyond the tour. We are looking forward to working with our provincial entrepreneurs and the Startup Canada team to create a more entrepreneurial Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Startup Canada’s NL tour began in St. John’s with a stop at the Genesis Centre, a business incubator for high-growth technology companies, which was recently awarded the Canadian Association of Business Incubator’s (CABI) 2011 Canadian Business Incubator of the Year Award. This visit sparked discussions around opportunities for sustainable funding, industry and advocacy leadership, and measuring the impacts of incubators.
St. John’s was also host to a Youth Entrepreneurship Workshop and Town Hall with more than 60 students from Shad Valley, a summer program that focuses on the sciences, engineering, technology and entrepreneurship.
“The Startup Canada event at Bowring Park provided the Shads with an opportunity to meet and network with many local high-tech entrepreneurs and they had a great time participating in the seminar with Startup Canada’s Founder, Victoria Lennox,” said Leonard Lye, Program Director of Shad Valley Memorial. “I think the students learned a great deal from the event, which bodes well for developing the next generation of Canadian entrepreneurs.”
Town Hall participants in St. John’s and Corner Brook shared ideas for kickstarting entrepreneurship in Newfoundland and Labrador and identified challenges to overcome, such as addressing fears of failure, finding the right advisors, and adapting to new economic realities.
“These Town Halls have been pivotal idea generators for Startup Canada’s campaign, but more importantly, they re-energize communities and spark new collaborations that are strengthening each city’s entrepreneurial culture,” said Rick Spence, a Startup Canada Advisor and facilitator for the NL Town Halls. “This is powerful stuff because the more a community engages with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial issues, the more startups they are going to attract.”
Stephen Wheeler, Founder of Magine Snowboards & Skis, was one of the many local entrepreneurs who participated in Corner Brook’s Town Hall.
“Startup Canada’s event was not only great for the local entrepreneurs who attended, but ultimately for all the local communities in Western Newfoundland,” said Wheeler. “Community development and entrepreneurial development go hand-in-hand, where creating and supporting a strong entrepreneurial base creates a strong self-sustaining community.”
Tour stops in Gander and Grand Falls had the Startup Canada team interviewing local entrepreneurs to showcase some of the entrepreneurial talent in those cities.
Since launching its National Tour in March, the Startup Canada team has visited nearly 30 cities and is close to completing its tour across the country. The remaining stops in Ontario and British Columbia will take place in September. A national audience is following the campaign through Startup Canada’sinteractive website, live web-streamed broadcasts of the tour, and active social media networks. A full events listing can be found at http://www.startupcan.ca/tour
In addition to being championed by patrons such as Brett Wilson (Host of RiskyBusinessTV, former Dragon & serial entrepreneur), Heather Reisman (Founder, Indigo Books & Music), and Dani Reiss (Founder, Canada Goose), Startup Canada has also received support nationally from a number of ambassadors and industry sponsors such as Microsoft, Gowlings and Ernst & Young.
Other sponsors include Best Western Hotels, Artik, VideoBooth, Export Development Canada, the Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program, Kick Ass Media, PubliAir, the Ottawa Technology Transfer Network, the Association of University Research Parks Canada, the Canadian Association of Business Incubation, the Evidence Network, Francis Moran & Associates, FreshBooks, MSBi Valorisation, NextMTL, Podio, Best Western, Backbone Magazine, HootSuite, ITWorld Canada, Paper.li, Sprouter, and Techvibes.