WEtech Alliance, Libro Credit Union and Digital Main Street Launch Ignition Program to Connect Region’s Businesses and Innovators
Windsor-based Regional Innovation Centre, WEtech Alliance, in partnership with Libro Credit Union and Digital Main Street, Wednesday announced the launch of Ignition, a unique public-private partnership aimed at connecting businesses with innovators to solve the big challenges and futureproof our region by leveraging design thinking.
The program is a five-month design sprint that seeks to understand the challenges regional businesses are facing, and tangibly bring them together with entrepreneurs who are capable of quickly prototyping and commercializing the solutions the businesses need to futureproof their operations.
“At WEtech, we are lucky enough to not only get to work with the fastest growing startups in our region, but also with our large industry partners, helping them to develop their first internal innovation frameworks, solving some of their largest challenges,” says Adam Frye, Director of Business Innovation at WEtech Alliance. “Over the course of the past two years we have heard loud and clear that our startups want to work with large industry partners, yet struggle to get through the door, and that our large industry partners want to work with startups, but lack the internal infrastructure and knowledge to do so. Thanks to our friends at Libro, and with the support of Digital Main Street, we have developed a structured environment for that collision to take place that’s going to churn out tangible results for this region’s hardest hit businesses.”
With funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) and Libro Credit Union, the WEtech Alliance Ignition program has been expanded through the Digital Main Street Future Proof program to target main street innovation through the Community Collaboration Projects.
“To face the challenges presented by COVID-19, collaboration between stakeholders from industry, academia, government and non-profits are essential,” says Lori Atkinson, Regional Manager at Libro Credit Union. “Ignition is a perfect example of bringing together our entrepreneurial ecosystem and local main street businesses in order to grow prosperity, right here in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent.”
WEtech Alliance will host a series of conversations that hope to reveal common issues facing small and medium main street businesses and focus on developing workable solutions. The program will provide up to $25,000 (per applicable solution) to address identified local problems with innovative solutions championed by local technology companies, with the potential to be delivered across Ontario.
“Digital Main Street’s Future Proof program presents an exciting opportunity to complement WEtech’s Ignition programming with the overarching goal of colliding main street businesses and our regional tech community to generate innovative solutions” says Noah Campbell, Tech Community Program Manager at WEtech Alliance and the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation. “This unique private-pubic partnership will be the first of its kind in our region and has the potential to support all of Ontario with the solution’s it generates thanks to its expanded capacity”.
WEtech is inviting Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent business owners, innovators, and community stakeholders to share their ideas to solve one or more local main street challenges. A survey will be open for the next two weeks in hopes of getting feedback from the community. Community is also invited to attend a one hour working session where WEtech Alliance and Libro Credit Union will leverage Design Thinking to understand the challenges and BIG ideas the community may have.
Register for Session #1
Session #1 Is a working session lead by Adam Frye, Director of Business Innovation at WEtech Alliance. We will be leveraging the core tenants of Design Thinking to dive into the communities BIGGEST ideas for change, as well as the challenges facing our main street businesses as we prepare for the 2nd wave of COVID-19.
After this session, we will collect and review all of the data uncovered and select 3-5 core Opportunity Statements, reflecting the largest challenges and opportunities facing our business communities today. From there we will work with the local Innovation Ecosystem to find entrepreneurs passionate about developing solutions to these statements and colliding them intentionally with businesses who could use that solution in order to develop them together in Session #2.
In order to make this event as accessible as possible we are offering six different sessions across two days. Simply select the ticket that works for you from a timing perspective, and we will see you online!