Collaboration is a key element to advancing technology and innovation within Eastern Ontario. Sharing knowledge, experience and connections is a powerful tool in addressing challenges that our Regions face, highlighting successes and opportunities, and brainstorming ways to accelerate the emerging innovators and entrepreneurs in our area.
Spark Centre has begun collaborating with Launch Lab, based in Kingston, Ontario, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Launch Lab is a Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) and member of the Ontario Business Support Network that shares its entrepreneurial leadership with most of South Eastern Ontario — from Trenton, down to Picton, over to Cornwall and back up and around through Smiths Falls and Bancroft. Launch Lab works with tech-based startups and existing businesses with innovative technologies or ideas to help them gain traction and scale, building a globally competitive innovation community in Eastern Ontario.
Spark Centre spoke with Scott Runte, Launch Lab’s CEO and Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR), about the incredible work that Launch Lab has been doing in Eastern Ontario and what’s in its pipeline.
Q: Launch Lab has achieved much success over the years. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
A: We’ve been really fortunate in our ability to support entrepreneurs across our focus regions over the years, and this has translated into some significant advancements and growth for many of these businesses. Our efforts however, took on even greater importance this past year through the first wave of COVID-19. As a result of this unprecedented strain on many businesses, our services were called upon to support and guide both struggling businesses as well as those experiencing exceptional growth. Our guidance and support and the positive responses and gratitude we have received as a result of our efforts reinforce our commitment to continue to help businesses throughout this year and beyond.
Q: The Amplify Program is making quite the impact on your innovation community. What is it?
A: Our Amplify program accelerates and scales innovative Eastern Ontario companies selling into both business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer markets regionally, nationally and internationally. As an extensive, personalized program, participants work with Launch Lab’s Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs) to create a tailored and actionable growth plan, designed to address specific growth challenges. The program runs for 6-months at a time with each client and really digs deep into the challenges and strategies for success for businesses of all types.
Q: How is your Launch Pad Program helping early-stage entrepreneurs and startups.in your region?
A: Launch Pad is targeted to those clients that may be at an earlier stage in their product or service development. If they just have an idea, a prototype, a beta application etc., then they can join the program. It is a series of workshops/webinars led by experts in finance, product, marketing, sales and operations that present and discuss challenges and solutions – in a group setting. We have found that clients enjoy interacting with other entrepreneurs and the discussion forum allows for businesses to learn from each other at the same time. All in all, we look to make sure whether it is through one of our programs or our direct 1-on-1 mentoring, that we have something for everyone.
Q: The current pandemic has affected every business and organization, regardless of size or stature, but many — like Launch Lab — have been able to successfully ride the wave. How has Launch Lab successfully pivoted in the wake of COVID-19?
A: Our success has really been built around our partners and our clients. First, with our partners, we have seen a real ‘coming together’ to pool our resources in our ability to continue to support these clients. Our success is also a result of our clients who have taken the time and effort to spend time working ‘on the business’ rather than just ‘in the business’. This ability to approach challenges strategically I think, in the long term, has helped us pivot and focus on getting businesses through these challenging times.
Q: How is Launch Lab collaborating with Spark Centre to accelerate tech and innovation across Eastern Ontario?
A: Well, very much in line with the last comment, Spark has been a real partner in the sense of their commitment to work together with us for the betterment of businesses across our combined regions. By pooling our resources and leveraging the experience of the team at Spark, we have benefited from their expertise and “fresh eyes” on client challenges that has helped us bring even greater insight and support to help entrepreneurs overcome business challenges. I think our collaboration is just at its infancy. I foresee continued innovation and advancements in our combined approach to support businesses together – ensuring that companies are solid and ready to continue taking on challenges – with the support of our two organizations operating as one voice.