Globe and Mail: Strong incubators are key to driving innovation

utestJeff Cates’ op-ed in the Globe and Mail‘s Small Business/Digital Innovation section on June 19, 2014 argues that incubators have a key role to play in fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and growing new industries in Ontario.

Cates states this is particularly true when incubators when they provide programs and services to help young entrepreneurs succeed.

The University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology program (UTEST), co-managed with MaRS Innovation, is one such program. UTEST is set to announce its third cohort within the next month.

Whirlscape logoThe Globe article sites Whirlscape, inventors of the one-line Minuum mobile keyboard and other wearable typing technology, as one such company.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Budgets at all levels of government are under pressure and taxpayers demand value for money. Yet we cannot lose sight of the fact that these incubators, and the ecosystems they support, represent a crucial investment in today’s economy and the future of those who are just now coming into the workforce.

Incubators have played a critical role in the success of companies across a range of industries. They’ve been pivotal in creating an entrepreneurial culture that has enabled companies like Bubl develop ground breaking camera technology, or Shoplocket create a unique e-commerce platform, or Whirlscape build a better keyboard for mobile devices. These examples really just scratch the surface of what Ontario’s entrepreneurs are capable of. Without support, we risk leaving these ideas on a whiteboard, or seeing them find success elsewhere.

Our country is at a crossroads: the “new economy” simply hasn’t generated enough jobs to offset the losses in stagnating traditional industries. This disparity is largely responsible for the explosion in young people seeking their own opportunities. Yes, they are armed with good ideas, but turning them into a reality and creating a viable business around them, is a far greater challenge. That’s where incubators come in.

Visit the UTEST website for more information about the program.

Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, director of marketing and communications.