Halifax launches innovation outpost to help startups scale

The Halifax Partnership and the Halifax Regional Municipality have announced the opening of the Halifax Innovation Outpost, a new initiative aimed at promoting the city’s emerging startups and business ecosystem.

“The goal for the outpost is to help startups undertake R&D, commercialize ideas, and grow into successful companies.

The outpost will provide a platform to help startups and scaleups beta test and develop ideas and products alongside public, private, post-secondary, and community partners. The outpost also aims to address social and civic challenges and improve municipal data transparency. The initiative is being led by Karl Allen-Muncey, former lead of the Digital Kitchener Innovation Lab and the Innovation Outpost for Postmedia.

“Civic innovation is a necessity, not a luxury,” said Halifax Mayor Mike Savage. “This lab is an opportunity to find answers to longstanding challenges, to deploy agile thinking and new technologies in pursuit of a more livable city, and to make a statement that historic Halifax is stepping decisively into the future.”

The Innovation Outpost is an addition to the ‘Halifax Innovation District’, an initiative that was announced at the same time. The Halifax Partnership, Halifax’s economic development organization, is leading the Halifax Innovation District with support from Nova Scotia provincial government. The announcement did not include the dollar amount of support the province is providing for the initiative, nor were there any monetary investments noted from the city of Halifax for the initiative or Outpost.

The aim of the district is to increase access to innovation spaces and resources, address infrastructure and programming gaps, and create stronger ties and partnerships between universities, corporations, risk capital, government, and entrepreneurs.

“The Halifax Partnership is excited to be working with our private, public and post-secondary investors and partners to build an Innovation District that supports and accelerates entrepreneurial and economic growth,” said Wendy Luther, president and CEO of Halifax Partnership. “Our goal is to make it easier for new and established companies to undertake R&D, commercialize ideas, and start and grow successful companies.”

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The Halifax Partnership is the city’s public-private economic development organization that aims to promote business and entrepreneurship in the Nova Scotia capital. The Innovation Outpost, itself, will be housed at Volta, the Halifax-based innovation hub and accelerator, which recently announced a partnership with Microsoft for startups to support the growth of Atlantic Canada startups.

“The Government of Nova Scotia is pleased to support the Halifax Partnership as they continue to build an environment that gives our innovators and entrepreneurs access to the tools and resources they need to succeed,” said Nova Scotia’s business minister, Geoff MacLellan. “We know startups and scaleups need to be able to easily connect with their partners, and the innovation district provides that ability.”

Halifax is one of Canada’s emerging tech hubs, home to a number of up-and-coming startups like Appili Therapeutics, Proposify, Modest Tree, and Swept. The east coast city is also known for its business incentives, such as generous R&D tax incentives, lower cost of living, competitive business costs, and access to talent. The city is home to investment and acceleration opportunities from organizations like Build Ventures and Innovacorp, as well as five universities and colleges and over 2,000 companies including startups in the IT, life sciences, and cleantech sectors.

“Creating a thriving, innovation-driven economy requires a vibrant ecosystem that brings together a variety of people and organizations so they can collaborate and learn from each other,” said Jesse Rodgers, CEO of Volta. “The addition of Halifax’s Innovation Outpost is a tremendous step towards establishing Halifax as one of Canada’s most innovative cities, and Volta is pleased to play a role in building on the momentum we’ve experienced over the past few years.”

Image courtesy Pixabay

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast