June 6, 2022 — Waterloo, ON — Delivering on its vision to create the #1 full-stack startup hub in the world, the Accelerator Centre (AC) is announcing the launch of a new, regional-first hybrid venture studio program to support early-stage startups across southern Ontario.
With $10 million in funding support from the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the unique program combines the best of the AC’s flagship program, AC:Incubate, with the globally successful venture studio model to create the new program, named AC:Studio.
Through AC:Studio, the AC will work with existing early-stage companies across southern Ontario to provide critical funding and support. Additionally, the AC will work to curate new businesses by matching aspiring and serial founders with high-impact IP from industry and academia. The three-phase program will provide 100 high-potential, early-stage companies with up to $100,000 in seed funding between now and March of 2025.
The program is an expansion on the AC’s long-running AC JumpStart program, which provided $30,000 in seed funding grants and mentorship to 318 companies from 2014 to 2021. Uniquely, the new AC:Studio program will provide startup founders with the funding and mentorship the AC is known for, while expanding supports to include training and tactical resources from ecosystem partners like SnapPea Design, Uvaro, and Conestoga College's Gig Lab to help founders execute and accelerate their time to market. The program takes a regional approach, working with Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) partners WEtech, Alliance, and Innovate Niagara to identify and curate high-potential startups for participation in the program.
“There is no doubt, startup founders need enhanced access to capital, particularly seed funding. The AC has long played an important role in Waterloo ecosystem by providing that capital through the AC JumpStart program. Today, we’re proud to be able to continue working with our partners to provide that critical funding through the AC:Studio model. However, we also know that today’s early-stage founders need more intensive supports to accelerate their success. Optimally, they need funding, mentorship, access to talent, and tactical help getting the job done. That’s why we’ve gone beyond the status quo with our hybrid accelerator/venture studio model and brought together a full network of support that curates, funds, and accelerates startups to global success.”
- Jay Krishnan, CEO, Accelerator Centre
“Today’s investment in the Waterloo Accelerator Centre and the Venture Studio Innovation Program will provide Canadian entrepreneurs with the access to the support, mentorship and services they need for growth and success. Supporting Canadian jobs and economic growth in Canada’s technology sector is a priority for the Government of Canada. We are proud to support this program that will create good jobs for Canadians and help secure Canada’s place as a global leader in the technology sector.”
- The Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
“This investment in the Waterloo Accelerator Centre will help our region further develop its network in leading-edge innovation. This project will support the continuing development of a healthy pipeline of high-potential startup companies in cleantech, nanotech, and healthtech, and create and maintain 1,000 highly skilled jobs right here in the Waterloo Region and across southwestern Ontario.”
- The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Member of Parliament for the Riding of Waterloo
"Commercialization skills are a critical success factor in a startup's growth. The war on talent is intensifying and we need Canadian companies to have a strong foundation for sales motions so they can be successful in commercializing innovations and onboarding sales talent. Uvaro has been helping hundreds of tech companies build and find successful sales talent. We're excited to partner with the AC and FedDev Ontario to support the success of the reformatted Venture Studio model and build skills around sales excellence and access to commercialization talent right from the start."
- Joseph Fung, Co-Founder & CEO at Uvaro
“We are excited to share our experience with the founders in this new program and to support the growth of the region in a meaningful way. Deciding to go down the path of entrepreneurship is a big step. The hardest part is discovering what you don’t know, and how to execute on the advice you’re given. This program changes that, by allowing us and our partners in this program, to work with these companies directly. We will drive them to validation and execution faster and more efficiently than ever before.”
- Steven Fyke, Founder of SnapPea Design
"We are pleased to support the launch of AC:Studio and help early-stage startups access the talent and tactical support they need from freelancers in the Gig Lab and on conestogagigs.ca. Engaging the region’s unique ecosystem of complementary incubators in this project is good for all entrepreneurs and will play a positive role in ensuring the economic health of both our region and the province.”
- Rose Mastnak, Director, Conestoga Entrepreneurship Collective
"The Accelerator Centre has developed one of the most unique accelerator experiences and startups hubs in the world. This partnership gives high growth entrepreneurs access to world class support, global networks, seed funding and even more importantly, access to other high-end entrepreneurs that are going to push them and support them along their journey. WEtech Alliance looks forward to working together to ensure that early-stage startups from across southern Ontario, including right here in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent, have the opportunity to start up, scale up, and become the next generation of Canadian anchor companies.”
- Adam Frye, Director of Operations and Partnerships at WEtech Alliance.
“As one of Ontario’s Regional Innovation Centres, Innovate Niagara works with high-potential startups in Niagara, delivering the structure, services and resources entrepreneurs need to start and scale innovation-based companies. We are thrilled to partner with this network to expand access to funding and mentorship for early-stage founders across southern Ontario. There is no greater support we can offer high-potential companies in their infancy than concentrated, expert-level mentorship to ensure companies develop a strong foundation, as well as providing them with access to capital to help commercialize their products. This program is built to do just that, and we are pleased to be part of it.”
- Jeff Chesebrough, CEO, Innovate Niagara
Applications for the program are open from June 6 until July 1, 2022 with the 100 selected startups beginning programming in September of 2022.
Visit www.ac-studio.ca for more information or to apply for the program.
About the Accelerator Centre
At the AC, we exist to help ambitious dreamers impact global change through their businesses. The AC is ranked Canada’s #1 private business accelerator and is among the top five such organizations globally. We offer an extensive selection of customizable opportunities for startups across Canada—allowing founders to rapidly bring their innovation to life. We work with our global partners to bolster the innovation ecosystem in Waterloo and beyond.
About FedDev Ontario
For more than 12 years, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation, growth, and job creation in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving productivity, growing revenues, creating jobs, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring our pivotal projects, our Southern Ontario Spotlight, and FedDev Ontario’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Uvaro started because the old approach to tech hiring is broken. The fastest-growing segment of our economy needs new sales professionals. Finding appropriate training and courses can be challenging for those in this field. Worse yet, when tech companies want to hire diverse talent, established interview practices and company cultures put up barriers. Marginalized people who do accept job offers are often left to flounder by businesses that don’t have effective sales training. We’ve created a better way to grow careers. Instead of preventing access to fulfilling work, we provide accessible training, on-demand support resources, and best-in-class tools that teach participants how to build on their successes. We’re on a mission to help the world’s professionals lead more fulfilling careers—from their first job to their last. At Uvaro, we’ve created a better way to help everyday people launch and grow successful and rewarding careers in tech.
Conestoga Entrepreneurship Collective
The Conestoga Entrepreneurship Collective is dedicated to incubating entrepreneurial potential, equipping members of the Conestoga College community with the skills, strategies, and attitudes to create opportunities that will contribute to the economic development of local, regional, and international communities. Programming includes the Venture Lab universal business incubator, the Sales Lab incubator for high-tech sales careers, and the Gig Lab, Canada’s first business incubator for freelancers.
About WEtech Alliance
WEtech Alliance is one of 17 Regional Innovation Centres funded by the Government of Ontario, serving the Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent regions. They provide entrepreneurs with business services, training, commercialization and IP support, mentorship, and strategic connections to help bring new ideas to market, scale to the next level and build a dynamic culture and a community of innovation. WEtech Alliance has served as the catalyst for technology and innovation in the Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent regions since 2011.
About Innovate Niagara
Innovate Niagara is one of 17 Regional Innovation Centres in Ontario. Our mission is clear: we exist to support innovative entrepreneurs and companies from a variety of industries start, grow and succeed. Innovate Niagara provides the structure, services, and resources you need to get your great idea off the ground. As true collaborators and strong partners within Canada’s innovation ecosystem, Innovate Niagara works closely with local, provincial, and national partners to meet the unique demands of the modern entrepreneur and innovator.
Director, Marketing and Communications
Press Secretary, Office of the Hon. Helena Jaczek Minister Responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario