Innovation is thriving around Ontario, with great companies emerging all over the province. This guest post is part of a monthly series featuring MaRS’ partners across Ontario and their up-and-coming companies.

Innovation Guelph

We hope the word is getting out about all of the exciting things happening at Innovation Guelph. We’ve been a community partner for only a short time, but our vision is taking shape. We aim to create community well-being in Guelph and Wellington County by cultivating prosperity and spearheading innovative approaches to community building. We are reaching for these lofty goals by focusing on growing entrepreneurs, channeling investment into local companies and employing the best coaching and teaching strategies to help companies find customers, grow sales and thrive.

We actively promote equality, opportunity and well-being by teaching our companies that success is about more than the bottom line. It’s about long-term sustainability and the success of our community as a whole. After all, companies that thrive contribute to the well-being of Guelph and Wellington County and, by proxy, the province of Ontario.

Innovations in the region

Innovation Guelph serves a broad set of distinct industry and business types: 50% of our clients are startups; 40% are small- and medium-size companies; and we see profit and not-for-profit businesses, some of which are striving to be B Corps. Our client focus is shaped by the character of our local expertise and industry sectors. As a result, we have developed in-house expertise to assist clients from the following sectors: food and beverage; agriculture and agritech; sustainability; health and wellness; social entrepreneurship; digital ITC; biotech; and advanced manufacturing.

Agriculture-based companies

Guelph-Wellington is known for its expertise in agriculture, agritech and food. Innovations of this type range from pure biotech (plant-based pharmaceuticals from PlantForm Corp., for example) to new food commodity products (such as Ontario-grown quinoa from Katan Kitchens). In fact, two of the top three winners in our most recent Pitch It competition were new beverage companies: Live Kombucha in third place and Zpirit Foods in first place. Innovation Guelph works closely with Bioenterprise and Ontario Agri-Food Technologies to help new ag-based companies succeed.

Sustainability-based companies

Energy, water and waste should concern every company. Water technologies, cleantech, waste reuse and renewable energy technologies make up the sustainability sector and about 20% of Innovation Guelph’s client list. Companies such as ReSource H2O (rainwater harvesting systems) and Mantech Inc. (robotic water quality testing systems) are growing their businesses in the water sector. Renewable energy is on the minds of GreenBug Energy (micro hydro power generation) and Radiance Energy (waste heat to power).

It would take too long to talk about all of our sectors in this post, so I’ll save some for next time. Just keep in mind that 30% of Innovation Guelph’s clients are in the ICT space—but that’s a whole other story.

Upcoming summer events at Innovation Guelph

For those of you in the Guelph area, check out our roster of summer events:

Stepping Into Business Workshop – How to Get Ready
July 29, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
This business 101 workshop is delivered in partnership with the Guelph-Wellington Business Enterprise Centre. Sign up here.

Women’s Equity Day
August 26, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Gear up for a lunch and learn about the current state of women’s equity. Get insight from three leaders in the profit, non-profit and academic worlds. This is a great opportunity to brainstorm and network with like-minded individuals.

Stay tuned for the launch of Innovation Guelph’s Strategic Storytelling for Business Leaders. Read more about it here.

Macquarie Pitch It

The Macquarie Pitch It Grand Finale was a huge success on Monday, June 24. The event was held at the beautiful Guelph Youth Music Centre located in the heart of downtown Guelph. More than 70 enthusiastic attendees packed the theatre to cheer for six new companies hoping to be crowned the Pitch It winner.

The Macquarie Pitch It event showcased six of Guelph’s newest talents, who pitched their companies to a panel of judges made up of investors, industry leaders and entrepreneurs. Philippe Roireau of Zpirit Foods took home the first-place prize of $3,000; Jason Cassidy of Shinydocs won second place, receiving $2,000; and the third-place prize of $1,000 went to Andrew Morris and Londa Daniel of Live Kombucha. Live Kombucha was also the Audience Choice Winner, as determined by a Facebook poll conducted live at the event.

Guelph is full of innovation and these Macquarie Pitch It finalists proudly display the variety of exciting new ideas growing in our city. Congratulations to all of the contestants for their hard work and to all of the MacQuarie Pitch It sponsors. For more on this story, click here.

Innovation Guelph Award

Each year, Innovation Guelph’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence nominate a small set of high-potential companies that have shown real growth and achieved significant milestones during their time working with us and consider them for the Innovation Guelph Award. All nominees were certainly worthy of this award, but the social media voting campaign pushed one company to the top. On Thursday, June 27, at the Guelph Awards of Excellence, the Innovation Guelph Award was presented to Jamie Draves of Katan Kitchens.

Success stories

KAP Design helps companies communicate better and see results quickly. KAP became a client of Innovation Guelph in October 2012 after launching their services in June 2012. With continued entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR) support from Kevin Boon, sales support from EIR Steve Barrett, networking opportunities and more, KAP reported a 52% revenue growth in the first quarter of 2013.

SpeakFeel Corporation develops innovative mobile technology for North America’s leading organizations. With much success through global sales, SpeakFeel began to investigate funding opportunities to fast-track marketing and product extension. The company has been a proud client of Innovation Guelph since mid-2012 and now has an office in the Innovation Guelph business cluster.

In October 2012, SpeakFeel took third place in Innovation Guelph’s Grand Finale Pitch It competition. The company was selected as one of three companies to present at the closed Golden Triangle Angel Network meeting in February 2013. While pitching at this exclusive event, SpeakFeel connected with Microsoft who discovered their need for SpeakFeel’s mobile solution.

Read more great stories on the Innovation Guelph website.

Anna Nguyen

Anna Nguyen is the front-of-house manager at Innovation Guelph, where she manages day-to-day operations, including marketing and project and event management. She has been immersed in the education and technology sectors for many years and specializes in helping companies to find the right technology package to fit their needs. See more…