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Economic asset

More than $1.6 million in federal-provincial funding for Genesis Centre

Campus and Community

By Jeff Green

Amid handshakes and hugs, the federal and provincial governments announced a combined investment of $1.6 million to allow the Genesis Centre to continue helping local entrepreneurs commercialize their ideas and build new successful companies in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Genesis Centre is Memorial’s award-winning business incubator for technology startups.

Premier Dwight Ball and Nick Whalen, member of Parliament, St. John’s East, on behalf of Navdeep Bains, minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, announced details of funding during an event on Thursday, Sept. 1, hosted by President Kachanoski.

Genesis_Sept01 16 194
From left are President Kachanoski, Genesis client Tim Howard, Nick Whalen, Premier Dwight Ball and Michelle Simms.

‘Critical’ investments

Ottawa is investing $1.35 million over three years through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s Business Development Program, while the provincial government is contributing $325,000 for this operating year.

Michelle Simms, president and chief executive officer, Genesis Group Inc., calls the investments “critical” to the growth of the centre, allowing staff and volunteer mentors to do two things.

“It will allow Genesis to operate with a new heightened level of efficiency, allowing the centre to focus on its longer term vision and placing the attention where it belongs: on increasing the number of high potential, technology entrepreneurs,” said Ms. Simms, who took over the top job with the facility last month.

“And, it will help Genesis to expand its programming to reach a wider audience and include the latest industry best practices.”

Entrepreneurial programming

The centre offers a pair of programs that are geared towards local technology entrepreneurs: the Evolution Program focuses on early stage entrepreneurship-driven individuals to help them through the ideation stage of the startup life cycle, while the Enterprise Program supports the creation, growth and success of companies with products and services that have a clear business model and path to commercialization.

Empowering entrepreneurs

Since launching nearly two decades ago in 1997, the Genesis Centre has assisted more than 150 startups raise more than $90 million in private investments.

“Today’s funding will allow Memorial to empower the next generation of technology-focused entrepreneurs.” –President Kachanoski

Current clients and graduates of the centre employ more than 650 people in Newfoundland and Labrador. In the last fiscal year alone, these companies have added 95 new jobs and $3 million in investment to the local economy.

“As the university system in Newfoundland and Labrador, Memorial plays a critical role in fostering innovation and supporting new opportunities to meet the business needs of tomorrow,” said Dr. Kachanoski. “Through our Genesis Centre, Memorial has championed entrepreneurship for nearly two decades, assisting businesses as they commercialize their ideas. Today’s funding will allow Memorial to empower the next generation of technology-focused entrepreneurs.”

New national partnership

The federal and provincial funding comes a week after the Genesis Centre announced a partnership with the acclaimed MaRS Discovery District and other Atlantic Canadian innovation hubs to bring market intelligence to the centre’s clients and graduates.

The MaRS Discovery District is a not-for-profit corporation focused on launching successful startups stemming from the science, technology and social innovation sectors.

“Companies in Newfoundland and Labrador find it difficult to access market intelligence services that can be critical to their business decisions,” explained Ms. Simms. “This program will allow entrepreneurs to have access to the best and most recent market information before making decisions that will affect their businesses. Ultimately, this will lead to stronger Newfoundland and Labrador technology companies.”

Michelle Simms
Michelle Simms is president and CEO of Memorial’s Genesis Centre.
Photo: Chris Hammond

Don’t go it alone; connect with Genesis

Meanwhile, Ms. Simms encourages local startups who are not working with the Genesis Centre to connect with her and her staff if they have questions on how to start or grow their technology business.

“Entrepreneurship is hard and you should never have to go through it alone.” –Michelle Simms

“Entrepreneurship is hard and you should never have to go through it alone,” she noted. “Genesis connects startups with mentors, coaches, entrepreneurs, investors and sector-specific experts, such as legal, accounting, to help accelerate the business at all stages.

“Our staff have been trained by the best in the industry and some are entrepreneurs in their own right,” Ms. Simms added. “The centre also has a strong alliance with incubators and accelerators across Canada and utilizes their programming to enhance client experience at Genesis. We look forward to the years ahead.”

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