Matthew Lombardi has been named the new head of the new OneEleven, BetaKit has learned. BetaKit has confirmed with multiple sources that Lombardi will lead the once-shuttered Toronto incubator.
One source familiar with the hiring process told BetaKit that Lombardi’s knowledge of the private and public sectors, as well as the Canadian innovation space, played a role in his selection.
Lombardi brings over a decade of experience at the intersection of corporate, startup, and government environments. His most recent role was in strategy and operations consulting at Deloitte Canada. Prior to that, Lombardi worked in private sector partnerships at the United Nations’ World Food Program.
Notably, Lombardi also co-founded Toronto-based tech startup GroceryHero, a free service that delivers groceries to Canadian medical professionals on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The source indicated that the managing director role for the new OneEleven will be smaller in scope than in previous years, comprising only one floor with a focus on desk space over event functions. The anticipated headcount for the new OneEleven will total approximately five people, significantly less than the incubator’s previous team of 15. The team will reportedly rely on OCE’s back office to handle a portion of the administrative work.
The relaunch of OneEleven comes after a dramatic year for the Toronto incubator, which shut its doors in April, citing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to shut down the organization was made by OneEleven’s board of directors, notably comprised of representatives OMERS and Oxford Properties, which own the 325 Front Street building where OneEleven is based.
In August, BetaKit was first to report that following multiple proposals to obtain OneEleven, the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) signed an agreement to acquire the OneEleven brand, office space, and intellectual property from Oxford Properties.
Current plans place OneEleven to open again October 1, although multiple sources have confirmed to BetaKit that Lombardi has already been actively engaging with the Toronto tech community about the relaunch.
Interest in the reborn incubator, which at its peak hosted 55 companies and over 1100 people, has been a matter of open debate. Back-of-envelope estimates shared with BetaKit go as high as 30 companies, but that number includes soft commitments of interest. Former OneEleven startups BetaKit spoke with indicated hesitation due to a lack of interest from employees to return to offices during a pandemic, as well as pricing.
Lombardi and the OCE did not immediately respond to requests for comment.