Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Funds earmarked for startups

Non-profit given $1M to support entrepreneurs

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A Winnipeg business incubator is getting more than $1 million in federal funding over the next five years to help local startup companies become commercial successes.

The non-profit Manitoba Technology Accelerator (MTA) plans to use the funding from the two-year-old Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program (CAIP) to hire two more full-time employees, expand its service offerings and help more companies.

MTA currently has the capacity to assist 10 startup companies at a time, and CEO Marshall Ring said Monday it plans to add two to five more over the next six months.

"We are going to grow bigger, faster, and farther," he told about 40 people who attended Monday's funding announcement at MTA's McDermot Avenue offices.

Ring said the companies MTA is currently assisting created 90 new full-time job and more than 200 new part-time jobs over the past year.

"We are targeting to double those numbers over the next year. What we really want is for Winnipeg to be the startup capital of Canada."

MP Shelly Glover (St. Boniface) made the funding announcement on behalf of Ed Holder, Canada's minister of state for science and technology.

"Our government's investment in the Manitoba Technology Accelerator will help ensure Manitoba's brilliant young entrepreneurs and innovative businesses are able to access the resources they need to grow, innovate and create jobs without having to leave our community," Glover said.

She said in a later interview these technology startups are generating the types of jobs technology graduates are seeking.

"They create jobs that challenge our young people... and they want to be challenged."

One of the MTA's latest success stories is Skip the Dishes, a transplanted Saskatoon online meal ordering and delivery service that started out with two employees when it moved its headquarters into the MTA offices to tap into the support services it offers. Now it has close to 100 staff and counting, with plans to add 40 to 50 more before the end of the year.

CEO Joshua Simair said the company also recently expanded its service into the Calgary and Edmonton markets, and hopes to be in all major Canadian cities within the next 12 months.

That kind of rapid expansion wouldn't be possible without the help of MTA and its stable of more than 50 business mentors and experts, he added.

Ring said the two new full-time employees the MTA is adding are a chief-operating officer and commercialization assistant.

Nearly 100 business incubators and accelerators applied for funding under the CAIF program. From that list, 15 "best-in-class" applicants, including MTA, were chosen.

The funding will be delivered by the National Research Council of Canada's Industrial Research Assistance Program, which also helped to evaluate the proposals that were submitted.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 19, 2014 B6

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