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Checking out one of the Ignite Labs displays at NSCC Burridge Campus in Yarmouth on June 29 (from left): Mary Thompson, principal at NSCC Burridge; Doug Jones, founder and executive director of Ignite Labs Inc.; West Nova MP Colin Fraser; Jeffery Mullen, director of enterprise development with ACOA; Scott Dauphinee, managing director of The Lobster Trap Company.
Checking out one of the Ignite Labs displays at NSCC Burridge Campus in Yarmouth on June 29 (from left): Mary Thompson, principal at NSCC Burridge; Doug Jones, founder and executive director of Ignite Labs Inc.; West Nova MP Colin Fraser; Jeffery Mullen, director of enterprise development with ACOA; Scott Dauphinee, managing director of The Lobster Trap Company. - Eric Bourque

The federal government is partnering with Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) and investing a combined $600,000 in Ignite Labs Inc. to establish a business incubator serving southwestern Nova Scotia.

The support was announced June 29 by West Nova MP Colin Fraser on behalf of Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development and minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), along with Jeff Taylor, associate vice-president for applied research and innovation with the NSCC. ACOA and NSCC are each contributing $300,000 to Ignite Labs.

Ignite Labs, which will be housed in NSCC’s Burridge Campus in Yarmouth, will provide low-cost office space, equipment and internet to reduce the financial burden normally faced by new companies so that they can focus their energy on developing products and services. Tenants and members of Ignite Labs will be able to access mentors with expertise in technology, finance, governance, commercialization, marketing and law, and will benefit from working alongside like-minded creative people, sharing concepts, ideas and experiences.

Ignite Labs will also benefit from, and contribute to, a growing community network, an ecosystem that includes Volta Labs in Halifax and Momentum in Sydney, where appreciable startup activity is already underway.

This project will stimulate the growth of technology, ocean and tourism sector businesses in the region, engage youth, and encourage the further adoption of innovation and innovative processes in local industries, proponents say.

“Building innovation requires a focus on three areas: creative and entrepreneurial people, state-of-the-art technology and competitive companies,” Fraser said. “Ignite Labs will unite all three to foster growth in the oceans, technology and tourism sectors, while creating good jobs and economic wealth. We already know it’s a model that works.

Mary Thompson, principal at NSCC Burridge, said the Ignite Labs project will help students and be good for the province.

“NSCC is committed to having a positive economic and social impact on the communities we call home by spurring innovation that’s directly linked to community business, environmental and social issues and opportunities,” she said. “Through leading-edge technologies, applied research and strategic partnerships, we prepare our learners to have an impact on the province’s high-value growth sectors and inspire them to make that impact right here — at home. By housing an incubator, we’re creating a platform for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship that will benefit our students and the province as a whole.”

Doug Jones, founder and executive director of Ignite Labs Inc., said starting a new business can be a bit like being stranded on a desert island.

 “The feeling of isolation and fear can keep individuals from following their dream of building a successful business,” he said. “Our goal in starting Ignite Labs was to provide a space where an entrepreneur can work with other startups and access mentorship, resources and advice that will help them grow and achieve success. Along with this, we hope to create a culture of innovation where we can support and help grow the vibrant industries in Western Nova Scotia.”

ACOA’s funding for the incubator is being allocated through ACOA’s Innovative Communities Fund. This investment builds on commitments made by the federal government and the four Atlantic provinces to drive economic growth in the region through the Atlantic Growth Strategy, which involves targeted actions to stimulate Atlantic Canada's economy, including supporting key infrastructure projects that support long-term growth and position the region to capitalize on emerging opportunities.

NSCC’s funding for Ignite Labs is part of an investment the college received through the Province of Nova Scotia’s efforts to strengthen and enable activity that drives innovation and enhances programming for entrepreneurs across the province.

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