Communitech receives $9.7 million in federal grant

The federal government is granting up to $9.7 million over five years to Kitchener-based Communitech, which will focus the funds on scaling up established mid-sized startups.
Conservative Kitchener Centre MP Stephen Woodworth announced Tuesday morning that Communitech would receive $9.7 million in funding over the next five years. (Jane van Koeverden/CBC News)

The federal government is giving up to $9.7 million over five years to Kitchener-based Communitech, which the organization will use to help mid-sized startups increase their businesses.

"The scale up stage is actually one of the most challenging and difficult stages of a company's growth," said Steve Currie, vice president of small and mid-size enterprise companies at Communitech.

"It's absolutely critical for this region to continue to grow companies. We need that next group of companies that will be the next BlackBerrys and OpenTexts, and this program is absolutely critical for us in helping those smaller companies grow into bigger companies."

Currie said the funds will be used to create programs that will be available to startups from Wilfrid Laurier University's LaunchPad, the University of Waterloo's Velocity program and the Accelerator Centre.

One of the new programs includes buying offices in cities like New York and San Francisco, so startups have a place to gather and work in international markets.

Another program involves bringing in "growth coaches" who have a background in scaling up small businesses. Currie says one growth coach will be Jim Estill, a local investor and entrepreneur, who was a founding board member of Research in Motion and the former CEO of Synnex Canada, a wholesale computer distributor.

The goal of these programs is to see 30 companies reach $50 million to $100 million in annual revenues within the next decade, Currie said, adding that local startups like Plasticity Labs, Vidyard and Clearpath Robotics will be among those who benefit.

​Communitech is one of 15 tech incubators across Canada who have received grants from the government's Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program, originally established in 2013.

"An independent panel had told us that there's about 15 incubators [and] accelerators in the country that are absolutely excellent," said conservative MP Gary Goodyear when the grant was announced.

Goodyear said the federal grant would help businesses across the country grow, getting good ideas "out of the laboratories" and "out of people's minds" and into the market. 


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