Entrepreneurship fund rewards ‘innovative thinkers’

The York Region Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund has awarded funding to six companies and organizations – two of which are located on post-secondary campuses – for supporting innovation.

Seneca HELIX, Seneca College’s on-campus incubator, is among three non-profit community partners that received $10,000 in funding. Dedicated to developing the entrepreneurial mindset by providing knowledge, mentorship, sessions, workspace, access to like-minded peer community and experiential opportunities, its success stories include Seneca Urban Farm by Ripple Farms.

YSpace, York University’s community innovation hub supporting high potential innovators in both the technology and consumer packaged goods space, and York Region Arts Council, also received $10,000 in funding. A leading non-profit charitable arts service organization, the Arts Council focuses on capacity building, creative place-making and community engagement in support of artists, arts organizations and creative entrepreneurs.

Launched in 2019, the Entrepreneurial and Innovation Fund is a $100,000 annual program that recognizes innovative start-ups and non-profit organizations in York Region over five years. It offers one-to-one matching funds, which means successful applicants must supply or show access to matching funds of the amount requested.

The fund is administered by ventureLAB, a leading technology hub located in York that supports tech entrepreneurs and small businesses, in collaboration with the Region’s Economic Strategy team. It’s divided into two streams: one for non-profit community partners and the other for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

“Innovation is fundamental to business growth and supporting innovative companies helps us strengthen York Region’s economic vitality,” says York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson. “We are proud to partner with ventureLAB and work together to create jobs and expand our world-class innovation network.”

Second stream recipients receive up to $15,000 in funding. Recipients include BIOSA Technologies, an eco-friendly biotechnology company headquartered in Markham, has developed a proprietary technology platform for the optimization of both enzymes and chemicals. Memory & Company, also in Markham, provides products and specialized care to suit different needs, including the world’s first premium day program and respite resort for people living with memory loss. Stan A.I. is the world’s first property management assistant for condominiums powered by artificial intelligence.

“York Region is a hotbed of talent and innovative thinkers,” says Jane Gertner, Vice President of Partnerships at ventureLAB. “The competitiveness of this fund proves why York Region is the destination of choice for small businesses to build and grow their companies.” Interested applicants can visit venturelab.ca/innovationfund.

Chef Ramesh Poredi serves up tilapia from Seneca Urban Farm with the help of students Merve Gizer and Rafael Miranda in the lab kitchen at the college’s Markham campus. Photo courtesy of Seneca College.

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