Durham Region has long been the spark of industrial growth in the GTA. Foreseeing the headwinds that would face the manufacturing industry, Durham Region embarked on futureproofing itself by becoming a key partner in the development of the Spark Centre. Located in the core of Oshawa, Spark Centre has become an innovation hub to the region and an advocate for many of the innovations that have come out of Durham, long known as an auto-manufacturing mecca.

Spark Centre was designed to support Durham Region and Northumberland County’s journey to become a globally recognized technology and innovation ecosystem. With a goal of developing and growing competitive, world-class businesses, it’s mission is serving entrepreneurs focused on innovation and technology requiring knowledge and support in order to thrive.

“Primarily, we work to improve Durham Region and Northumberland County’s competitiveness and visibility as a world-class innovation cluster. We elevate the key industry sectors including energy, health sciences, manufacturing, innovative technology, agri-business, and clean tech” says new Spark Centre President and CEO Sherry Colbourne, a Canadian entrepreneur who has recently returned to Ontario from a four-year entrepreneurial sabbatical in the Middle East, where she co-founded Startup Oman.

History of Spark Centre

In December of 2010, the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation announced the funding and launch of Innovation Durham Northumberland (IDN). Within the first few months, IDN had a new look and feel under a revised brand, Spark Centre. The idea was for Spark Centre to work cooperatively with local entrepreneurs and organizations to cultivate and support a strong entrepreneurship culture within Durham Region and Northumberland County.

In 2013, Spark moved its office to one of Durham’s newest collaborative working spaces for entrepreneurs and small businesses, Core 21, and in 2014, Spark Centre incorporated as Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre. separating it from the DSEA. In 2015, Durham Region’s first dedicated start-up incubator, The Loft, was opened by Spark on the second floor of Core21, with 92 seats for local entrepreneurs.

International Strategy Focus

Durham Region’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Strategy now includes the Spark Centre. In 2012, the Region of Durham and the Changping District of Beijing Municipality of China established a government relationship. Most recently, the opening of the Spark Centre Office within the Beijing Future Science Park (BFSP) was announced with the intention of building a strong partnership between both innovative organizations.

Spark Centre was also recently designated as a facilitator of Canada’s Startup Visa Program and has partnered with the region to offer the Soft Landing Program which will assist international entrepreneurs and businesses in understanding the ins and outs of doing business in Canada and Ontario.

Spark clients making sparks beyond Durham Region

Many of the clients that Spark has supported are now poised to make a difference in their chosen fields. DashMD is an Ignite award winner focused on providing patients with the tools and resources they need to successfully traverse their road to recovery after a visit to the hospital. Another Ignite award winner is Zambah.

The mobile application platform, which is dedicated to exposing and promoting independent music artists to a wide variety of new fans and influencers, is also Thrive Certified and the recipient of an angel investment.

One of the most exciting companies currently operating out of the Spark Centre is WeTraq. Led by Ishaan Singla, WeTraq is developing a small credit card-sized device that helps ease the anxieties of families and caregivers by ensuring they can monitor the location of their loved ones anytime and anywhere across the globe!

“Spark has provided us with an amazing platform to build credibility around our product and the team behind it,” says Singla. “It’s in large part because of the resources they have provided that we have secured government funding and are launching a major crowdfunding campaign in March.”

If you’re interested in taking your business to the next level or you’re an international business wishing to access the North American market, why not reach out to Spark Centre in Durham Region and establish your business in an affordable and booming ecosystem.