CABI gets new name and focus with leadership change


The Canadian Association of Business Incubation is now the Canadian Acceleration and Business Incubation (Association). The name change comes with a leadership shift as well, as HIGHLINE CEO and CABI board member Marcus Daniels has been named Chair of the association. The announcement was made at the recent CABI 2015 Conference in Niagara Falls.

Speaking with Daniels about the new role (disclosure: BetaKit’s East and West Coast offices are housed in HIGHLINE’s Vancouver and Toronto co-working spaces), CABI’s Chair made clear that he was arriving with a mandate for change.

“We are at a critical inflection point both in the industry and as an organization,” Daniels said. “The needs of the startups we help have dramatically changed over the last few years and the effectiveness and relevance of our offers for most organizations are at question.”

“As a national organization,” Daniels continued, “we not only have an opportunity to lead, but also the obligation to focus the mandate on the things that matter.”

“We are at a critical inflection point both in the industry and as an organization. The needs of the startups we help have dramatically changed.”

To that end, Daniels indicated that CABI’s evolved mandate puts its focus squarely on raising the quality of incubators and accelerators across the nation, which he said must provide the specialized services, timely funding, and global connectivity to foster fast outcomes for startups (whether success or failure). This will include not only an accreditation program for Canadian incubators and accelerators, but also tools and programs to ensure best practices are continually fostered as market needs evolve.

CABI will also look to foster greater collaboration amongst its member network, and on that front, Daniels has already made significant gains in his new role. With an open call out for new board member applications, the leads of several incubators and accelerators in Toronto (INcubes, Founder Institute), Ottawa (L-SPARK), and Montreal (FounderFuel) were quick to offer support of CABI’s new focus when contacted by BetaKit, as well as willingness to work together.

“I am excited about CABI’s new direction led by Marcus as its new Chair,” said Leo Lax, Managing Director of L-SPARK. “We believe that CABI is the voice that our community needs, and L-SPARK is interested in taking a meaningful role in shaping this new direction.”

FounderFuel’s Sylvain Carle put a fine point on the need for a strong national organization, especially one that controls the Canadian Startup Visa program. “We need to make sure we are being diligent with this program as it is and grow it into something we can all be proud of,” Carle said. “We have a unique opportunity to become a fantastic landing pad for immigrant entrepreneurs from all over the world, we must make sure we don’t lose this from a lack of alignment.”

“As the Canadian startup ecosystem matures, so does the need organizations helping support and structure it’s various components. Having a strong national organization to represent a more standardized offering, and the growing needs, of the business of acceleration and incubation is of utmost importance as more public and private money is invested.”

So CABI is still CABI, but with a different outl as it approaches an AGM in November to set in motion the next chapter of the organization. Still, I had to ask Daniels about the (slight) change in name.

“It is clear that deeper collaboration and integration with accelerators and incubators is critical going forward as a national organization,” Daniels said, before laughing. “But we’re trying to raise the bar and set an A grade for the industry, so we’ve still got the letter A on our mind.”

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys is the Editor-in-Chief of BetaKit and founder of BetaKit Incorporated. He has worked for a few failed companies and written about many more. He spends too much time on the Internet.

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