Reflections & Predictions: A Look Back on 2016 & Ahead to 2017

It’s been an incredible year at WEtech Alliance! We asked the team to share their favorite 2016 moments as well as what they’re looking forward to in 2017. Here’s what they had to say.

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Yvonne Pilon – President and CEO 

LOOKING BACK ON 2016:

How quickly the year goes by! The past year has been yet another transformative year for WEtech Alliance. New team members (welcome Cathy Mombourquette), new leadership (welcome Chair Adam Davis), new board members (welcome Brent McPhail, Saverio Rinaldi, Aaron Marcotte, Larry Koscielski, and Nicole Sleiman), and new clients and members. We’ve had clients travel to Silicon Valley, achieve their first sale, secure angel investment, establish their new lab space, and even quit their FT job to pursue their venture. These milestones are what drives our team and makes our jobs so rewarding.

The past year also included building on existing partnerships including that with the Chatham-Kent Economic Development Corporation. A special shout out to Geoff Wright for your ongoing support and your fantastic tour guide skills. Our tour of Chatham-Kent will be among one of our favourite memories of 2016.

Another special memory is the inaugural Nerd Olympics. Never have I been so proud of YQG’s tech community. This event not only brought together local Nerds but formed partnership with over a dozen local businesses. The laughs, smiles, and even some tears, are memories that I will cherish from 2016. I can’t wait to see who will bring home the Nerd Cup in 2017. Will Next Dimension continue their reign?

Our team would be remiss if we did not thank our past Chair, Frank Abbruzzese, for his leadership as well as commitment to WEtech Alliance since opening its doors in 2010. Frank, you are a true pillar in this community and we are grateful for your leadership and commitment to promoting technology and innovation in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent.

Last but definitely not least, 2016 would not have been as impactful without the efforts and dedication of the WEtech team. This team knows no limits and any leader knows that your business is only as good as the talent that makes it. A special congratulations to Marco Fiori, Business Advisor, who not only helped our clients reach their 2016 entrepreneurial dreams but his own as well with the opening of Windsor’s only Rock Gym, Windsor Rock Gym. Congrats!

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2017:

Partnerships, partnerships, and more partnerships! With 7 years under our belt, WEtech has grown its brand and footprint in our community. We’ve made great partnerships to date including but not limited to that with The Windsor Star (Tech In The City), CTV Windsor (Monthly Innovation Segment), Biz X Magazine (Generation YKNOT Monthly Column), Motor City Community Credit Union (Titan Sponsor), WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation (Regional Alliance and IofT Event), EPICentre and Genesis Centre, City of Windsor (Snapd Windsor Monthly Insert), FIRST Robotics Canada (Windsor-Essex Great Lakes FRC Regional), as well as Hacking Health Foundation and TechTown Detroit (Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit). 2017 will continue along the same path with new partnerships being built locally, nationally, and internationally to assist our Clients and Members in achieving success and job creation. Last but not least, our team is thrilled to introduce our new Partnership Package this year as well as our WINnovation Map 2.0. Bring on 2017!


Deborah Livneh – Entrepreneur-in-Residence

LOOKING BACK ON 2016:

I am so excited to see how several of our Clients have accelerated their businesses and products to market.  Until recently, they were just startup entrepreneurs with an idea. Now, I am so proud to watch them acquire paying customers, hire their first employee, get awarded government funding, secure investment, and expand their reach internationally. As their business advisor and mentor, it is most gratifying to see them become successful!  Their success is our success and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of their journey.

Another fond recollection of 2016 is the increased focus on the life science sector. WEtech in collaboration with community partners, university, college and hospitals promoted our region as a gateway to the USA and an attractive place to develop and adopt medical innovations.  We had explored the Health Innovation as Economic Driver Forum with MaRS Innovation.  We envision these collaborative initiatives will advance clinical research, grow innovative health technologies, attract high value investments, and create attractive high paying careers in our region.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2017:

I’m looking forward to 2017, as it is shaping up to be another great year to engage in many new and exciting projects and technologies. It is so great to be a part of the dynamic and enthusiastic WEtech team, dreaming up new ideas, fun activities, and exciting events.  We will support our entrepreneurs in accelerating their businesses and help them making real headway into the market place in the coming year!

Happy 2017 to all!


Marco Fiori – Business Advisor

LOOKING BACK ON 2016:

It was amazing to see such a full year of very active involvement in the city through many events and related opportunities. The portfolio has now reached a significant number with measurable impact and some interesting technologies created right here. Local success stories are being shared with everyone and the support has been incredible.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2017:

Making even more impact on the local start up scene. Continue to leverage all resources and find more investor ready companies.


Irek Kusmierczyk – Director of Partnerships

LOOKING BACK ON 2016:

I love how the community of companies in the tech and innovation sectors came together in a big way through Nerd Olympics, shining a light on both the amazing tech talent we have in our region and the amazing quality of life we enjoy.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2017:

I am excited about the partnership with Libro Credit Union that will support startup entrepreneurs of all ages in the City and County.  Embedding our entrepreneurs into Libro’s thick network of community and business leaders will be invaluable to the growth of these startups and hence the growth of prosperity in our region.


John-Marc Vachon – Director of Programs & Marketing

LOOKING BACK ON 2016:

The term “time flies when you’re having fun” immediately comes to mind when I think of 2016. It feels like just yesterday that I was preparing this same feature for 2015/2016! There have been a lot of memorable moments in 2016. From celebrating Social Media Day with our Social Media Superheroes, to the launch of our #YQG ❤ collaboration with RARE Apparel to the numerous events we had the opportunity to partner with some amazing organizations on such as Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit, WEGLR, the Windsor Essex Tech Show, Emerging Technology in Automation and Robotic Surgery Day.

But for me, the one event that stands out the most was our inaugural Nerd Olympics event that brought together 16 tech company teams in the ultimate 3 month long battle of brains & brawn. I was blown away by the passion and dedication shown by our teams, partners and sponsors and had a fantastic time interacting with them over the course of the games.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2017:

I’m excited about our partnership with Libro Credit Union on the Libro StartUP program launching in February. This program has the potential to make a huge impact on the 5 companies selected. I’m also looking forward to planning our 2nd annual Nerd Olympics event with the goal of making it even bigger and better than the first! Lastly, I look forward to continuing to grow our amazing partnerships in Windsor-Essex, Chatham-Kent, Michigan and beyond.


Michelle Teno-Wachter – Administration and Member Services

LOOKING BACK ON 2016:

Our CEO always encourages Team building exercises; so we introduced an event to strengthen WEtech’s connection within our local Technology sector. The Nerd Olympics brought challenges and team building skills that strengthened networking relations – or maybe not 😉 – in our Tech Region.  There’s always challenges, but working as a Team we overcome together. That’s why WEtech’s Team gets stronger and better every year… it’s a challenge we love that gets us where we need to be.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2017:

As people return back to Windsor, you’ll see more youth involvement changing the face of Windsor. As well, with technology proving to be one of the most powerful tools of social change, WEtech is positioned to assist in the challenges in driving; educating and developing the local Tech sector. I enjoy working with a Team who gets excited at the prospect of challenges and  partnerships in changing the image of Windsor.


Cathy Mombourquette – Director of Social Innovation

LOOKING BACK ON 2016:

Coming in new to the WEtech team mid-year, it has been a whirlwind six months learning about Social Innovation, and sharing with our community. From workshops to toolkits, I’m honored to help this amazing breed of entrepreneurs who are passionate about developing solutions to social problems.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2017:

It’s an exciting time. Our provincial government has recognized the important role social enterprises play in reducing poverty, protecting the environment, building stronger communities and creating jobs with their social enterprise strategy.  We recognize it too. Interest is growing across our region – more are hoping to expand their social ventures, with others wanting to start new ones. I can’t wait to be a part of it!


NOW IT’S YOUR TURN!

What were your favourite moments of 2016? What are you looking forward to in 2017? Tweet us @WEtechAlliance!

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM ALL OF US AT WETECH ALLIANCE!