Kitchener-Waterloo-based Accelerator Centre (AC) has secured a $10 million CAD investment from the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev).
AC’s group of alumni includes ApplyBoard, Miovision, Magnet Forensics, Axonify, Ecopia.ai, TextNow, and SSIMWAVE.
The financing, which comes from FedDev’s Regional Innovation Ecosystem stream, will go towards the launch of AC:Studio, a hybrid venture studio program focused on supporting early-stage startups across southern Ontario. FedDev’s Regional Innovation Ecosystem stream invests in regional networks, and investments range from $500,000 to $10 million per project, meaning AC received the maximum amount.
With the latest federal investment, AC:Studio is expected to provide 100 startups with up to $100,000 in seed funding until March 2025. Applications are open from June 6 until July 1, with the program kicking off in September.
AC’s director of marketing and communications Tabatha Laverty told BetaKit that $4.7 million of the $10 million will go directly to founders through the grants delivered by AC. The remainder of the funds will be dedicated to program delivery costs.
AC:Studio is an expansion of AC’s long-running AC JumpStart program, which AC claims provided $30,000 in seed funding grants and mentorship to 318 companies from 2014 until last year. AC:Studio is replacing AC JumpStart.
Jay Krishnan, CEO of AC, said that AC has been able to provide startup founders with capital through the AC JumpStart program, but now wants to also offer mentorship, access to talent, and “tactical help getting the job done.”
“That’s why we’ve gone beyond the status quo with our hybrid accelerator/venture studio model and brought together a full network of support that curates, funds, and accelerates startups to global success,” Krishnan added.
AC:Studio will also specifically work with some Regional Innovation Centres (RICs), such as Innovate Niagara and WEtech Alliance, to identify and train high-potential businesses through the program.
Krishnan was appointed as CEO of AC in February last year, replacing longtime lead Paul Salvini.
The launch of AC:Studio comes after AC decided to rebrand itself as well as relaunch its flagship program, The Accelerator Program, under a new name, AC:Incubate. According to AC, the revamped incubation program will continue to provide founders across the country with access to education, mentorship, and investment opportunities with a new approach that includes a remote-first delivery model and an expanded community network for founders.
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Since it was founded in 2006, AC has grown to be an award winning organization, having been named a top private business accelerator globally by UBI Global. AC has also helped to bolster Kitchener-Waterloo’s tech sector , alongside other innovation hubs such as Communitech and Velocity.
As of January 2022, AC has worked with over 650 startups, and claims to have created over 4,000 jobs, and attracted over $1 billion in investments. Its alumni includes ApplyBoard, Miovision, Magnet Forensics, Axonify, Ecopia.ai, TextNow, and SSimWave.
The former head of India-based incubator T-Hub, Krishnan has since moved to Waterloo. Part of his strategy as he took over AC is to provide Canadian startups with international inroads. Under Krishnan’s leadership, AC recently entered a partnership with PROCOMER and the National Learning Institute to support software development companies that intend to enter the Canadian market and/or bring their companies to Canada.
In regards to the AC:Studio program, Krishna noted the need for seed capital in the Kitchener-Waterloo region.
“Today, we’re proud to be able to continue working with our partners to provide that critical funding through the AC:Studio model,” Krishna said, noting the evolution from AC JumpStart. “However, we also know that today’s early-stage founders need more intensive supports to accelerate their success … That’s why we’ve gone beyond the status quo with our hybrid accelerator/venture studio model and brought together a full network of support that curates, funds, and accelerates startups to global success.”
Featured image courtesy of the Accelerator Centre.