- Recipient: Accelerator Centre
- Region: Waterloo Region
- Most recent funding allocated: $5.5 million
With the mention of Waterloo Region comes its innovative and tech-savvy reputation—a status earned over the past decade as the growing community of high-tech start-ups and early-stage companies continue to achieve success in the region. Along the journey of turning an idea into a successful company, many entrepreneurs benefit from supportive accelerators and incubators, with one of the most influential being the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo.
Ranked in 2019 by UBI Global as Canada’s number one private business accelerator, and among the top five in the world, the Accelerator Centre (AC) offers a broad range of supports based on a world-class mentorship model—all aimed at giving technology start-ups the highest probability of success and creating the next generation of anchor firms.
Support from FedDev Ontario allowed the award-winning incubator to create AC JumpStart, an innovative seed funding and mentorship program, which is delivered in partnership with the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, Conestoga College, and the University of Guelph.
The program’s structured approach also allows companies to tap into larger regional, national and international networks, helping them get their products to market more efficiently, which creates value faster and leads to revenue growth and job creation in the region.
In fact, since its launch in 2015, AC JumpStart has supported over 300 southern Ontario-based businesses while generating over $12.6 million in revenue and adding more than 1,000 jobs to Ontario’s economy.
Each AC JumpStart participant receives up to $30,000 in seed capital, one-on-one mentorship and coaching from a team of in-house experts, as well as access to market research and connections to investors—vital resources growing companies need to establish and grow their businesses in the region and beyond.
Former participants include ApplyBoard, one of Canada’s latest unicorn companies with a $2-billion valuation, and NERv Technology, winner of the world’s first Entrepreneurship World Cup and its accompanying $500,000 USD prize.
In April 2020, the AC created a special COVID-19 response cohort of AC JumpStart dedicated exclusively to companies working on products and services needed as a result of the pandemic. Through that initiative, eight companies were supported to rapidly bring COVID-19 solutions to market—including locally-made personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as air filtration and sanitation solutions.
Carmina de Young pivoted their sustainable fashion business in 2019 to begin producing PPE in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, they have grown from a team of five to 15 people with the support of AC JumpStart’s funding an mentorship.
I have to say, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the AC JumpStart program. We are over the moon with the people who have been supporting us. The caliber of the mentors is top notch.
Here is what three other participants had to say about the impact of the AC JumpStart program:
AC JumpStart is a truly unique program that provides timely access to capital, market research, and targeted mentorship to high-potential startups. With this program, we’re solving the issue that companies face: they have a great idea and early progress, but they need the funding and guidance to take their idea to that next level and accelerate past the start-up valley of death—or the time period between early product development and strong sales where companies often fail. For many seed capital recipients, AC JumpStart is their very first investment. The support of the AC and FedDev Ontario gives companies the resources and confidence they need to take that next step and build something truly special.
Being part of the startup scene in southern Ontario, you’ll hear about the Accelerator Centre. I sure did. The $30,000 I received from AC JumpStart is a huge help, and the mentorship is nothing short of world-class. As the PR mentor Ellyn described it to me, you can really treat the mentor team like having a senior officer in every department of your company. Kevin Hood would be your VP of sales, Kevin Elop would be your CFO, and the list goes on and on.
What we do requires very heavy, specialized skills around deep analysis of data. AC JumpStart enabled us to bring in key personnel offering unique value to our customers. It really helped accelerate our focus. One of the biggest benefits coming out of the AC is the mentor guidance it provides. Mentors give you that real feedback that most people don’t have the heart to tell you. They understand business and are familiar with the pain and challenges that affect startups. That sincere perspective is what makes the AC different from other incubator spaces out there.
Learn more about AC JumpStart.