Winnipeg’s tech startup scene

Innovation and entrepreneurship are around every corner in this city

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Global Entrepreneurship Week is a worldwide event created to celebrate innovation around the world. One hundred and twenty-five countries participated, hosting over 33,000 activities globally, focusing on inspiring and recognizing the world’s entrepreneurs and innovators.

The University of Manitoba hosted its own activity in the Drake Centre on Nov. 19. The event invited speakers from local industry to share ideas, participate in panel discussions, and engage students in five sessions held throughout the day.

Present at the U of M event was Lisa Hobday, commercial co-ordinator from Manitoba Technology Accelerator, a federally funded, non-profit organization that provides support to help startups transition from ideas to businesses.

“We are Manitoba’s only federally funded incubator, taking people who have ideas with J-curve potential and helping them build a business,” said Hobday.

In other words, Hobday is in the business of tech startups.

Tech startups have become a global phenomenon, described in an article in the Economist as a “Cambrian moment,” a comparison to the Cambrian explosion when life began to flourish under the right conditions 540 million years ago. The Economist article explains that easy access to resources such as easy-to-learn programming frameworks, open source code for developers, Internet access for quick communications, social media for marketing, and, of course, program accelerators, is enabling an explosion of ideas, products, and businesses.

Tech startups are most commonly associated with Silicon Valley or San Francisco where popular and very successful tech startups like DropBox, Instagram, and GitHub are headquartered.

“The tech startup scene in Winnipeg is vibrant, filled with hardworking entrepreneurs and opportunities to impact both local and broader communities,” said Hobday. “Winnipeg is bursting with innovation but those who are disconnected from the startup community may not feel privy to all of the action.”

Several startups in Winnipeg have benefited from accelerator programs such as Manitoba Technology Accelerator.

“We are formally engaged with eight clients,” said Hobday.

Included in these eight clients is Arterial Stiffness Inc., which has developed a product that can measure the amount of plaque in an individual’s vascular system in a non-invasive manner. The device can then compare the information to a database, determining health risk factors based on age.

BL Photonics Inc. uses a spectrophotometer in the ultraviolet-visible-near infrared range to measure characteristics of wine while it is being produced, also known as the wine “parameters.”

Cubresa Inc. designs and builds SPECT and PET cameras, which are retrofitted into MRI machines and CT scanners.

Potential Winnipeg tech startup entrepreneurs and innovators have plenty of options in Winnipeg to help develop their ideas.

“We are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to organizations who collaborate on projects, events, and businesses,” said Hobday.

“So if you feel like you’re missing out or if anything you heard during Entrepreneurship Week piqued your interest, come and find out what the community has to offer you as an entrepreneur, mentor, or just a proud and well-informed Winnipegger.”

For more information on the accelerator program, contact Lisa Hobday by email at lhobday@mbtechaccelerator.com