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Grenfell incubator and makerspace receives federal, provincial funding

By Pamela Gill

Grenfell Campus and College of the North Atlantic (CNA)-Corner Brook campus will soon be home to spaces that will support business diversification and a stronger culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Navigate Entrepreneurship Centre will develop an incubator and a makerspace in Corner Brook thanks to funding from the Government of Canada, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), and the provincial departments of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, and Advanced Education, Skills and Labour.

A number of officials were on hand for the announcement.
Photo: Lori Lee Pike

 The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) is providing $874,162 in non-repayable funding towards the project; the provincial departments of Tourism Culture, Industry and Innovation and Advanced Education, Skills and Labour will contribute $203,962 and $87,375 respectively, over two years.

The total funding amounts to $1,425,320 over the two-year period.

Fostering a culture

“The Government of Canada understands that innovation is about new ideas and approaches that help grow our economy and develop a thriving middle class,” said Gudie Hutchings, member of Parliament, Long Range Mountains, on behalf of Navdeep Bains, minister, Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and minister responsible for ACOA. “This investment supports new initiatives at the Navigate Entrepreneurship Centre to foster a culture of innovation and business development in this region.”

Christopher Mitchelmore, minister, Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, says the provincial government is guided by The Way Forward, and continues to create conditions to strengthen the innovation ecosystem in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Through the Business Innovation Agenda, we are supporting the province’s innovation-driven businesses to grow, diversify and commercialize new technologies,” Mr. Mitchelmore said. “The launch of a makerspace and incubator is a key component for network development on the West Coast, and will benefit students, faculty, business and the economic community to help create and foster entrepreneurship through technology, innovation, marketing and research.”

“Through partnership and collaboration, students and business startups will be better able to turn their innovative ideas into exciting new business opportunities.” — Al Hawkins

Al Hawkins, minister, Advanced Education, Skills and Labour, says students at both Grenfell Campus and the College of the North Atlantic, along with entrepreneurs on the West Coast, will benefit from the resources, expertise and support of Navigate’s expansion.

“Through partnership and collaboration, students and business startups will be better able to turn their innovative ideas into exciting new business opportunities, supporting our government’s efforts through The Way Forward to encourage private-sector job creation and economic growth,” he said.

Makerspace and incubators

A makerspace is defined as a collaborative, community-based workspace stocked with tools and materials for people to experiment and create new things. Although there are many variations of makerspaces, the key concepts include collaboration, community and creativity.

An incubator is a place to nurture, support and expand business startups. As with makerspaces, incubators take on many forms and functions depending on the needs of the local entrepreneurial community.

Navigate

Navigate is a partnership of Grenfell Campus and College of the North Atlantic-Corner Brook campus.

This joint initiative has allowed both institutions to gain expertise in assisting the Corner Brook region by providing entrepreneurship education, one-on-one business startup support, networking opportunities and business-related resources. The makerspace will be housed at Grenfell Campus, while CNA’s Corner Brook campus will host the incubator.

Dr. Bill Radford, president and CEO, CNA, says the college is excited to provide an opportunity for people to develop creativity and ingenuity when it comes to entrepreneurship.

“We all know there are challenges when it comes to business startups, and through this initiative, CNA will provide the space, business-skills training and support services for entrepreneurs to nurture their ideas into tangible business models,” he said.

Dr. Jeff Keshen, vice-president, Grenfell Campus, says makerspaces and incubators are open and accessible places in which people construct knowledge and interact with new ideas.

“We are grateful to the federal and provincial governments for their investment in this initiative, which will bring awareness and opportunity to potential and existing businesses and promote entrepreneurship and innovation in this area of the province,” he said.

The makerspace and the incubator will have two full-time employees and will rely on students to assist in the operation of the two entities — a perfect experiential learning opportunity for students.


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