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This Advisor Has Startups Looking Around the Corner To Success – Spark Centre

Spark Centre Advisor Ivano Labricciosa has worked in the energy and utilities sector for over 30 years. The former President and CEO of Oshawa Power and Utilities Corporation (OPUC), Labricciosa has decades of experience in the energy sector that have taken him across the globe and opened his eyes to the issues surrounding energy and their potential solutions, like innovative technology.

The development of renewable energy solutions first attracted him (and kept him glued) to the industry, having a seat on the ground floor of many of the technological energy solutions that Ontario, especially Durham Region, is now deploying as a modernized initiative. Durham Region is the Canadian epicentre of many emerging energy fronts, from the newly announced SMR nuclear generation work at Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and leading institutional research at Ontario Tech University to applied training at Durham College and accelerator networks like the Durham Regional Technology Development Site (Durham RTDS) and Spark Centre. Add innovation in the smart mobility space, coupled with one of the largest automotive makers and advanced manufacturing support, the Region has all the successful ingredients for being a significant energy hub in Canada — a hub in which Labricciosa has lived and breathed.

It makes sense then that Labricciosa now advises technology startups steeped in innovation and real-world applications for cleantech, enertech and autonomous tech at Spark Centre, a regional innovation centre in Oshawa, Ontario.

Labricciosa first heard of Spark Centre a few years ago through some business colleagues in downtown Oshawa and was intrigued by their mission, “vibe and energy”. Years later, another colleague brought him closer into the fold, and Labricciosa was captivated by the work Spark Centre was doing and the number of new organizations and ideas they were incubating. From then on, he was hooked and decided to become more involved.

“I’m at a stage in my career where I’ve acquired a great deal of knowledge and experience that could be useful to help entrepreneurs succeed in developing their businesses.” says Labricciosa, “It’s also gratifying to connect with sharp, energetic startups that have a high degree of conviction in something they believe and a strong drive to deliver on it. The passion and energy are contagious!”

Spark Centre has no shortage of startup clients who exude the entrepreneurial drive that inspires Labricciosa, and he’s proud to be working with several of them. Clients like Enzo Gia, co-founder of Longan Vision, which developed an augmented reality smart visor for firefighter helmets that provides hands-free visibility, Mark Rizk, founder of Oombo and its Castor Beacon, the world’s first all-in-one emergency signalling device and Joel Nascimento, founder of Kevares Autonomous Services which provides autonomous robots to conduct a wide range of municipal services, for example.

There’s no doubt that Labricciosa has much to offer these startups from a technology and business perspective. With his success as the former President and CEO of OPUC, Labricciosa has learned many lessons that he now passes on, like understanding your market and “execution trumps strategy” (a good strategy alone is only an idea without purposeful delivery).

But Labricciosa’s advisory extends beyond integral business knowledge. In many cases, Labricciosa also connects these startups to his extensive network, which may open doors to a particular funding opportunity or project that fits within that startup’s long-term goals. Labricciosa also often challenges tech startups with the hard questions that help them to “look around the corner” and prepare for what lies ahead, whether that be potential challenges or promising opportunities, especially regarding protecting their technological advantage or positioning their technological solution in the market. Perhaps most importantly for these startups, Labricciosa builds their confidence by driving home a “why they will win” mentality in preparation for launch day. For Labricciosa, it’s all part and parcel of entrepreneurial success. 

“As a startup, the people around you are critical.” he says, “A great team starts with believing in what you are doing, bringing energy to your game and having the right skills and knowledge at the right time to take you towards success.”

While startups feel that having an Advisor like Labricciosa at their side is very rewarding, for Labricciosa, the feeling is mutual.

 “Watching the hard work of these innovative and creative startups begin to pay off as their company goes from an idea to a growing company with new employees and bottom-line results is one of the most rewarding things for me.” Labricciosa adds, “It’s an incredible feeling to watch these entrepreneurs that have been incubating their ideas for months or years overcome hurdles and challenges to launch a successful company and bring that idea to life.”

Spark Centre
Helping innovative companies start, grow and succeed. Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre is one of eighteen not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) that form part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). The centre works to improve competitiveness and visibility of Durham Region and Northumberland County as a world-class innovation cluster. Spark Centre works with clients to develop individualized plans for success. We connect start-ups to business and research networks, learning tools, business coaching, mentorship, and access to funding and investment.

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