Sudbury

Sudbury's business incubator opening its doors for startup companies

Greater Sudbury's new business incubator is set to officially open Tuesday morning. The 5,000 square foot space is located in the TD Bank building on Elm Street. It's meant to provide mentorship and growth for new startup companies.

Innovation Quarters officially opens Tuesday within the TD Bank building on Elm Street, downtown

A woman stands in front of a sign that says 'The future for innovative founders starts here'.
Business development officer Josée Pharand says Greater Sudbury's new business incubator will bring in mentors and industry experts to support entrepreneurs. (Jonathan Migneault/CBC)

Startup companies will be vying for space in a new business incubator in Greater Sudbury.

The Innovation Quarters officially opens Tuesday within the TD Bank building on Elm Street.

"It is a program, it's meant to be more than a space," said business development officer, and co-ordinator Josée Pharand.

"On top of working together and learning together we're bringing in mentors, industry experts from within the city and outside the city," she added.

The Innovation Quarters will provide mentorship and growth for new startup companies.

It's the brainchild of the City of Greater Sudbury, NORCAT and the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, and coordinated by the city's Regional Business Centre.

"These types of opportunities allow people to find those supports, understand where the gaps are in terms of their knowledge and where they might need that additional knowledge," Pharand said.

"There's going to be programming sessions, so topics covering just about anything that a business will need to start and grow."

Front entrance and sign to business.
The front entrance to the Innovation Quarters, Greater Sudbury's new business incubator at 43 Elm Street in the downtown. Six startup businesses will be chosen for the first cohort to start in October. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

The 5,000 square foot space includes collaborative workspaces, social areas, break-out rooms, and a boardroom.

"You'll also notice that we have white boards everywhere, so it's meant to be a brainstorming area. We want people to collide with their ideas and work together," Pharand said.

"It really will be very much a mentorship program, a hand-holding opportunity for these entrepreneurs to make their journey that much more successful," said Debbi Nicholson, president and CEO of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce.

[The business incubator will] really open their eyes to some thinking and or programming that they perhaps couldn't have found otherwise," she added.

"We know that there are a lot of budding entrepreneurs out there or people who have maybe considered entrepreneurship as a choice for them for their work life," Nicholson said.

A smiling woman.
Debbi Nicholson is the president and CEO of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce. (Jonathan Migneault/CBC)

"We now have a centre that can physically support them, and also support them through programming and mentorship…I think it's amazing and in the long run it will just create more opportunities for small businesses in our community," Nicholson said.

There is also an area in the space where 'hot desks' have been set up. Pharand explained that those are for any community member who wants to drop in and 'work beside like-minded peers and just feel the environment."

Applications for the first cohort will be accepted until Sept. 11. Then six companies will be chosen to start in the incubator in October.

Each company can have up to four employees, and will work collaboratively in the incubator for up to a year.

Desks and chairs within a workspace.
Collaborative workspace within the Innovation Quarters, the new business incubator in downtown Sudbury. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

Along with Pharand, two other staff members work from the Innovation Quarters. 

"We want to be a hub of information," Pharand said.

"So if somebody is looking for support in a specific area or looking to connect with funders, etc., we want to be that 'spoke' out into the community and be able to connect them," she said.

There will also be a Mentor at the Innovation Quarters . 

"That is an experienced business owner who will be working out of the space and meeting and guiding our entrepreneurs," Pharand said, adding that Bernie Aho, the co-founder and CEO of TimeHero has been chosen for that role.

The Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce is hosting an open house Tuesday afternoon at the Innovation Quarters for networking, tours, and potential participants will be able to ask questions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angela Gemmill

Journalist

Angela Gemmill is a CBC journalist who has covered news in Sudbury, Ont., for 16 years. Connect with her on Twitter @AngelaGemmill. Send story ideas to angela.gemmill@cbc.ca

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