Innovation Factory (iF) is a Hamilton, Ontario-based Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) that provides startup resources, programming, and mentorship to early-stage companies. Since 2011, it’s helped innovators commercialize their ideas and reach the next level of success while also supporting a more collaborative business community. As a member of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), Innovation Factory enables businesses to overcome growth obstacles and helps scale innovative products, processes, and services to market readiness.
Innovation Factory provides access to in-house expertise, resources, and programming such as workshops and pitch competitions to fuel the growth of startups and SMEs.
Companies that are a good fit for this type of support and programming can complete Innovation Factory’s client intake form to kick off the process. This will help iF understand how they can help your firm, or if it’s better suited for another local support network. If your company is not ideally suited for working with Innovation Factory, they will help you understand why and point you in the direction of other resources that can support your growth.
Innovation Factory: Startup Incubator for Tech Firms
Located in McMaster Innovation Park, Innovation Factory is an essential component of Hamilton, Ontario’s business community and the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). It provides the resources and support systems critical to business success, such as mentorship, educational workshops, and programming tailored towards early-stage companies. It also helps firms learn how to access funding, including how to successfully pitch venture capitalists and get started with Canadian government funding programs.
Innovation Factory clients have unparalleled access to an extensive mentor network with expertise in business planning, product development, sales and marketing, funding and investment, human resources, connections to academia, and international expansion. These mentors play a critical role in fast-tracking client growth, helping to overcome obstacles common to technology and innovation-based business success.
Mentors work directly with Innovation Factory clients to facilitate knowledge and skills transfer. This ensures that innovators have the tools for long-term growth.
As opposed to some other business accelerators and incubators, Innovation Factory is a free network that does not require an equity stake in participating companies. It’s funded through its partner network and government sources, making for a risk-free environment ideal for high-growth-potential startups. Participating companies can access as many resources as they need for as long as they need them without having to worry about immediate or long-term costs associated with the support.
Watch the following video to learn more about how Innovation Factory supports innovators:
Who’s Eligible for Innovation Factory Support?
Self-identified as an innovation ecosystem, Innovation Factory is comprised of businesses, inventors, entrepreneurs, students, and people in the community that support innovation. While iF provides programming for post-secondary students, the organization’s typical client is a startup or early-stage business. Companies are often within their first years of operation, with a few employees, and are either pre-revenue or have just started to commercialize their innovations.
Innovation Factory works with innovators in a range of sectors, including, but not limited to:
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- Advanced manufacturing;
- Advanced materials and engineering;
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- Information technology, communications, and entertainment;
- Life sciences and health care; and
- Social innovations.
iF also supports small and medium-sized companies that are looking for ways to expand and drive competitiveness. Through Innovation Factory’s LiFT Program, these established companies can receive support identifying growth challenges, then gain access to expert consulting services. Areas covered often include SWOT analyses, legal and intellectual property (IP) considerations, operational analyses, sales strategies, and financial management.
Innovation Factory Success Stories
Several Innovation Factory clients have shared their business’ growth story and discussed how iF has supported them in achieving their growth goals. Read the stories of entrepreneurs that’ve benefitted from iF’s resources and programming to learn more about how the incubator helps clients:
- Dolled Up Desserts: Gluten-free and vegan wholesale bakery and baking mix production company.
- Fleeky: Booking platform that connects independent beauty professionals with clients based on location, price, and reviews.
- Altius Analytics Labs: Health-tech company helping workplaces better identify and prevent expensive, repetitive strain-joint injuries.
Access Innovation Factory Expertise and Programming
Ready to get started with Innovation Factory? If you’re an entrepreneur with an early-stage business with significant growth potential, becoming an iF client is as easy as filling out a client intake form and discussing your company during a meeting with an Innovation Factory staff member. The process is relatively quick, and if your company is not an ideal fit, iF will identify other resources that can help your business grow and innovate.
Innovative startups can also learn more about what they need to access government funding programs by downloading Mentor Works’ Startup Funding Checklist. While early-stage businesses are generally not a good fit for government funding programs, this resource will help you develop a plan for what to do in the next few years to make it easier to access government grants and loans once you’ve become more established and have a track record of profitability.