Home  »  Strengthening Ontario’s tech ecosystem: Inside Innovation Factory and Haltech’s amalgamation

Strengthening Ontario’s tech ecosystem: Inside Innovation Factory and Haltech’s amalgamation

A Q&A with Innovation Factory’s CEO, David Carter 

On April 2, 2024, Innovation Factory and Haltech Regional Innovation Centre announced their amalgamation. Known for helping entrepreneurs and start-ups launch, build, and scale their businesses, the two organizations have combined their resources to provide greater support to the region’s innovation ecosystem. 

Founded in 2010 and 2011, Innovation Factory and Haltech respectively, have collectively supported over 3,000 technology start-ups in Ontario. Provided over 50,000 advisory hours, mentorship, networking, tools and resources to help them grow and thrive. Their combined efforts have had a major impact on the regional economy, including over $1 billion in both funding raised and revenue generated by clients, and the creation of over 5,000 jobs by these start-ups.

The two organizations have had a noticeable impact, but after years of serving their respective communities, why did they decide to amalgamate? After the official announcement, we sat down with David Carter, the CEO of Innovation Factory, to share more insight into the amalgamation and what’s next for the Hamilton-Halton region. 

This is a very exciting time for both Innovation Factory and Haltech communities alike!  What led you to this decision and why was this the right move for the innovation community in our region?

Absolutely! Haltech, from the get-go, has always been a great partner of ours. Our offices are not far from each other and our clients live and work across both regions. There were cases where one of us would deliver a program that the other purposely wouldn’t because our clients didn’t need the same program every 20 kilometers – and it would free us up to find another way to add value to our clients. The Beyond Boundaries program for women entrepreneurs was a really good example of that, where we would support and send our women-identifying entrepreneurs to that program. 

There were a number of times when Shann McGrail, the former CEO of Haltech, and I got together and discussed that instead of being two organizations trying to grow, maybe we should merge – not specifically for financial savings, but for efficiencies that could otherwise support the region. This isn’t about cost cutting, this is about taking full advantage of the huge opportunity that’s in the region. 

And, if you look at the Hamilton-Halton region combined, it represents 10% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Ontario and 10% of the population. 

Do we contribute to the economy of the province and the country? Absolutely. Do we have a region full of knowledgeable and skilled workers? Absolutely. Right now, we need to give ourselves some room to just really take advantage of the potential that’s here.

How is this amalgamation going to impact the programs and services that clients receive through the Halton region?

Well, first and foremost, Haltech hasn’t disappeared. It’s come under one name. So the location is the same, the staff is the same, the programs like Beyond Boundaries are the same, and the clients continue working with the same people they’ve been working with. For the most part, nothing has changed for the clients. This was really about the two organizations coming together for the better.

In fact, Burlington and Hamilton have always been served well and what we’re hoping to do now is better engage with the full reach of our region, from Brantford to Oakville, Milton, and Halton Hills. 

What are we going to learn while managing two locations? Is it going to be easy to manage three or four locations? Does it make sense to have another onboarding location within our region? Those are conversations we’ve already started having with the other municipalities. 

What would you like the innovators out there to know?

We are not doing this and going through all this work just to be cost-effective. So, what is the big strategy change going to be? The crux of that is based on something that’s worked well for Innovation Factory in the past, which is the notion of building ecosystems and markets that bring the sector together and drive real commercial impact for innovators. 

If we look at what we did in Hamilton, we helped bring together the city’s life science giants, like Bay Area Health Trust, St. Joseph’s Healthcare, McMaster University, Mohawk College, Hamilton Health Sciences, and created a life science consortium. 

The Synapse Life Science Consortium is a strategic concierge, an access point to Hamilton’s institutions and a catalyst for collaboration. That means when a start-up needs to work with those institutions, instead of having the doors shut on them, they can now access a group of leaders and executives, and their guidance on what the start-up needs to do before a hospital considers buying. By building this ecosystem, we’ve opened doors to big institutions for start-ups, and that helps way beyond training. 

So, how do we continue to leverage this notion of ecosystems and consortiums to build and attract opportunity and investment for start-ups in the region? What do we need to do to help other established sectors to open their doors to start-ups? If there’s a natural cluster of businesses, our job is to make sure that we assemble those ecosystems. We’re sort of the neutral party in this process.

Our job is to make everybody more successful. 

Ultimately, we want more jobs, more revenue, an increase in GDP, and everything that follows. So, whether that happens at the start-up level or mature company level, either one is a win. Both are better. That’s where I think we see the biggest opportunity.

Last question, what are some things the ecosystem can anticipate, or look forward to as a result of the amalgamation?

That’s a good question. I think out of the gate it will simply be quiet. We’ll be trying to operationalize this. We’re merging two organizations, two different CRM systems, and two different ways of doing things. For the next six months, I think it’s going to be a lot of networking.

But can we expect more programs in the future? More events? Yes! 

At the end of the day, we hope that the government recognizes that this is the best way to deploy new programmatic support because there is real impact to be made here. Thinking about Innovation Factory’s journey two years ago, we now find ourselves at the table with the government more than before when we were waiting outside to see what happened in the meeting. We are the trusted delivery partner for a lot of programs because when they give us funding, we show results. We show them jobs, we show them innovation and commercialization. That’s the result they want, and we look forward to creating more of it.

So, if you want to have an impact in these different ecosystems and communities, get engaged with our events, and make sure you reach out to staff because at some point, we’re going to call on you.

Innovation Factory

Innovation Factory is a business accelerator, dedicated to helping Ontario-based businesses launch, scale, and succeed. We provide start-ups, and scaling companies with advisory services, training, mentorship, and strategic connections to help bring disruptive technologies to market, leverage intellectual property, increase revenues, attract investment and create jobs. Serving as the catalyst for tech innovation in the greater Hamilton area since 2011 we are driven to help: Entrepreneurs bring new ideas to life and to market Small/Medium Enterprises (SMEs) get to the next level Hamilton build a dynamic culture and a community of innovation Innovation can happen anywhere. Our goal is to make it work everywhere. We work to elevate key industry sectors including, advanced manufacturing, clean tech, information technology, integrated mobility, life sciences & health care and social innovations.

This website uses cookies to save your preferences, and track popular pages. Cookies ensure we do not require visitors to register, login, or share any identity information.