In 2016, we celebrated the sixth anniversary of the Generator at one. While that might suggest we have our recipe for success down pat by now, the nature of the Interactive Digital Media industry is such that a leading-edge product launched today is old news by the end of the week. Adaptation and progression are a necessity; we must continually learn and apply new knowledge to adjust our programming and operations, staying ahead of the curve and paving the way for future advancements.
Status quo and innovation are like oil and water. Thus, while the Generator at one has been around for six years, we saw several firsts in 2016 that will continue to create a robust ecosystem that cultivates world-class talent.
In 2016 we welcomed our first two portfolio companies via the Start-Up Visa (SUV) program. The SUV program is designed to attract global talent to Canada. As a designated incubator, we can support companies wishing to apply under the program if the applicant’s business venture meets all of the eligibility requirements of Canada’s Start-Up Visa program and meets the portfolio company requirements of the Generator at one. Any company entering the Generator at one must be approved by the Generator at one Advisory Panel, which is made up of public and private digital media professionals. In addition, the applicant must own the Intellectual Property for their product, and their business venture must be in the growth stage with a minimum of $150,000 CAD in revenue in the past two years.
In the first quarter of 2016, analytics startup rel8ed.to joined the Generator at one via their SUV application from the United States. rel8ed.to has grown rapidly, hiring local talent and doubling their office space within six months of launching. In Q3, we welcomed Black Wings Effects via Malaysia. Black Wings Effects is a visual effects company that has worked with some of Asia’s industry giants. Now in Canada, Black Wings Effects is bringing that business to Niagara.
Since inception, we’ve had strong partnerships with both of Niagara’s post secondary institutions: Brock University and Niagara College (NC). Six years later we continue this partnership, teaching courses out of our facility and dedicating physical office space to advance interactive digital media (IDM) at Brock and NC. In 2016, we worked with Brock and NC to adapt their spaces at the Generator to be more student focused, helping to cultivate the future of IDM talent in Niagara. Brock’s space – now called “The Grid” – is home to student interns from the Interactive Arts and Science program, allowing them side-by-side access to learn, grow and be mentored by the portfolio companies of the Generator at one. The Niagara College space, now called “The Niagara College IDM Lab”, is administered by ncTakeOff (NC’s student entrepreneurship hub) and gives the college’s top student IDM entrepreneurs access to the resources needed to help their IDM businesses start, grow and succeed.
We also opened a new space within the Generator at one, called the Corporate Innovation Corner. Following the lead and best practices of some of the world’s leading incubation and innovation centers, our Corporate Innovation Corner provides a collision point between large corporations and startups. The space allows our corporate partners to be on the ground floor of innovation, outside of corporate walls, amongst startups who are constantly creating and putting the newest technologies into practice. This marriage provides valuable opportunities for our startups and allows our corporate partners to be more in-tune with the world of startup innovation creating ample opportunity for collaboration.
In Q4 we introduced a new concept at the Generator at one called “Harvest”. We are on the lookout for both startups and existing businesses that have digital technologies that will revolutionize the wine, brewing, distilling and agri-food industries. Being in Niagara’s largest wine region, and with our growing brewing and distilling scene, Niagara is Canada’s optimal location for direct industry access pertaining to these industries. Pair that with the groundbreaking research coming from Niagara College, Brock University, and Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, all within a short drive of our facility, and we are very excited to see the seeds planted in late 2016 come to fruition.
As we constantly move forward, it’s been fun looking back at the strides made in 2016 to ensure our future success. Knowing many of the developments in store from both the Generator at one and our portfolio companies, be assured that once again, the very best is yet to come!
Manager, the Generator at one