Hamilton’s Innovation Factory is promoting its newest competition called Startoff Hamilton by tugging on the heartstrings of nerds.

To promote the event, the company has commissioned artists Steve Mazza and Jason Frieburger to create 8 bit art installations throughout the city. Each piece will be embedded with a QR code that takes viewers to a site describing local start-up companies and the services they offer.

Viewers can then vote for their favourites – and the ten Innovation Factory clients with the most votes at the end of the competition can win a prize package valued over $16,000. Mazza and Frieburger spent a couple of weeks building the art, which is made mostly of wood and Styrofoam.

"This is great, because I love video games," Mazza said. "I was always a big fan of Galaga – and I played that well after it was cool."

Some of the pieces stand only around a foot tall – but the largest is a five foot high carrot set in the Hamilton Farmer’s Market.

Mazza also is also fond of the Gorilla they’ve built for Gorilla Cheese, but cautions that it isn’t a life size gorilla.

"We’re very excited about creating a buzz around entrepreneurship which can exist in both the real world and in an online space," said Ron Neumann, executive director for the Innovation Factory.

"Startoff Hamilton seeks to promote IF clients while teaching them the skills to self-market and maybe even win a prize, but it also aims to educate and engage the community about what it takes to build a start-up," he said.

Neumann says the whole campaign is geared towards creating a place where Hamiltonians can explore innovation – so on top of the art installations, they’ll also be hosting a competition at Supercrawl, which runs the third weekend of September.

People will be able to participate in an obstacle course that highlights three things the Innovation Factory says start-ups need: energy, technology and communication. The person that beats the course in the best time wins an iPad and Discovery Bay Atari Arcade.

Here’s a list of all the Startoff Hamilton Art Installations:

-McMaster Innovation Park – 175 Longwood S

-Mohawk College – 135 Fennell Ave

-The Design Annex – 118 James St N

-Cannon Coffee – 179 Ottawa St N

-CBC Hamilton – 118 James St N

-Small Business Enterprise Centre – 71 Main St W (City Hall)

-McMaster University – 1280 Main St W

-Hamilton Farmer’s Market – 35 York Blvd

-Detour Coffee – 41 King St W

-Gorilla Cheese - @gorilla_cheese (mobile)


For more information, visit startoff.ca.