Are you an entrepreneur looking to start or scale up your business? Or a decision maker planning to grow your company? Look no further than Mississauga, Ontario’s thriving second largest economy. Home to thousands of innovative companies in sectors such as IT, Life Sciences, Clean Tech, and Advanced Manufacturing, Mississauga is a hotbed of innovation with a rich history of success stories. Global leaders, such as IMAX, SOTI, and PointClickCare got their start in Mississauga. With support from the City’s innovation hub – IDEA Mississauga – you could be next!
Rather than reside in one specific area, IDEA Mississauga is a city-wide ecosystem comprising industry, government, education, and a variety of organizations that help start-ups and scale-ups accelerate ideas and commercialize solutions. A rich network of mentorship, partners, talent and connections, IDEA Mississauga features an interactive, concierge-style tool that allows entrepreneurs to connect with one another and to identify and access customized resources, including incubators at Sheridan College (EDGE), Altitude Accelerator, and University of Toronto Mississauga (ICUBE).
Access to the ecosystem’s network of entrepreneurs proved essential for Vandana Taxali, an intellectual property lawyer who co-founded Artcryption, an art-tech platform that helps creators and artists manage, protect, and monetize their assets and intellectual property. “As a start-up, one has limited time for making strategic partnerships,” says Taxali. “IDEA Mississauga’s scale-up program helped with key introductions to other successful entrepreneurs, which created connections that have accelerated certain parts of my business. I had never seen Mississauga as a startup hub, but this was one of the best accelerators I have experienced. I am absolutely amazed at the calibre of people involved.”
Connections forged in the IDEA Scale-up Program were also instrumental in the success of TheLeanSuite, a digital tool that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to create a streamlined way for employees to make suggestions and managers to act on them. “In addition to providing workshops and seminars that address common challenges faced by scaling companies, the program introduced me to mentors, speakers, peers, and potential partners,” says TheLeanSuite co-founder, Angad Singh. “Those connections are proving invaluable in taking our platform to market.”
The IDEA Scale-up Program also gave Singh and Taxali the chance to take part in a pitch program, with both placing in the top four. “IDEA Mississauga’s mentors helped TheLeanSuite develop a sales blueprint and an IP strategy, so we were able to refine our pitch before approaching a funder of early-stage start-ups,” says Singh. “There are a lot of opportunities when you work as part of a community.”
As more and more businesses make their way to IDEA Mississauga, it continues to expand to promote further growth. The IDEA Square One Entrepreneur and Innovation Hub which is set to open in downtown Mississauga’s Square One Shopping Centre, will serve as an anchor for the City’s entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem. A one-stop-shop for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses, it features more than 4,000 square feet of working space and is home to the Mississauga Business Entrepreneur Centre.
Next on the horizon for Mississauga is the Lakeview Innovation District, a more than 20 acre development that will add 1.8M sq. ft. of flexible office space connected by atriums, greenspace, and outdoor pavilions. Designed to complement Mississauga’s Lakeview Village, an adjacent 177-acre mixed-use community, Lakeview Innovation District is poised to transform Mississauga’s waterfront and create an environment that inspires solutions to the world’s wicked problems. Connected and accessible, it is envisioned as Canada’s largest hub for innovation.
Only a year ago, this would have come as a huge surprise to Vandana Taxali, but that was before she discovered IDEA Mississauga and participated in the IDEA Scale-up Program. “I now see my city as a tech centre and I realize that I don’t need outside help,” she says. “There are movers and shakers right here in Mississauga and the city has tapped into their knowledge and expertise to equip me with critical business connections and insights.”