-> The ability to order tax certificates through the website
Alongside the creation of a new City website, the project also included the development of new websites for the Peterborough Memorial Centre (memorialcentre.ca) and the Peterborough Public Library (ptbolibrary.ca), both of which were launched earlier this year.
The Innovation Cluster created a tremendous impact for the economy through the success of local technology startups in 2018.
Throughout the course of 2018, the Innovation Cluster generated $15,431,351.37 for the local economy, 15 times the set Provincial goal. While having supported 86 startups in total throughout the year, the Innovation Cluster in turn helped to create 171 jobs for the local economy.
Having established over 30 innovation partnerships, the Innovation Cluster has been able to create endless opportunities and connections for startups growing in the region. Of the 86 startups that have been supported in 2018, 46 of those were youth (18 to 29).
“Having close relationships with Fleming College and Trent University has been essential to attracting young, local innovators and keeping them in this region,” says Michael Skinner, President & CEO of the Innovation Cluster. “A lot of startup successes and community events has been made possible through these connections.”
Along with Fleming and Trent, the Innovation Cluster has established partnerships that connect startups with easy access to legal advice, marketing, intellectual property, funding and more. Innovation Partners offer one-on-one mentorship as well as free workshops to the Innovation Cluster clients and the Peterborough community.
One of these Innovations Partners is RBC, which sponsors the Innovation Cluster’s Virtual and Augmented Reality Zone inside its incubator. Through this space, the Innovation Cluster has been able to assist its digital technology startups, which now comprise more than 50 percent of the clients it currently supports.
Some of the rapidly growing digital clients include video game companies Bloom Digital and Canuck Play, and mobile app developers Kavtek and Ribitt. (Ribitt recently announced it had raised $600,000 in seed financing.)
“The Cluster is very helpful because people want to know if your company belongs to an incubator or accelerator,” says Ribat Chowdhury, co-founder of Ribitt. “Your chances of succeeding is higher when you have a collaborative environment and are in a tech ecosystem—and that’s what the Innovation Cluster provides us with.”
Along with its digital clients, the reserve of clean technology clients also continues to rise. With the help of the Trent Makerspace at Trent University, clients are able to access lab space and research and development equipment.
With digital and cleantech innovations rapidly growing, in 2019 the Innovation Cluster will be looking to grow its healthcare sector to address innovations towards accessibility and aging in Peterborough.
“The startups that have stayed and grown their companies in Peterborough and the Kawarthas and sought help through the Innovation Cluster is what truly sets this area apart from any other city in Ontario,” adds Skinner.
“The impact made this year has been the greatest to date for startup growth, jobs created and the economic impact it’s resulted in. We plan to keep those numbers on the rise.”
An interactive web mapping genealogical tool and a new Little Lake Cemetery Story Map which tells the story of the cemetery and some of the early residents of Peterborough is now available.
Residents can explore the updated Little Lake Cemetery Guide and discover something new about their community by using the interactive historical timeline. The mapping application and Story Map can be found here and here.
The interactive map allows users to explore more than 5,500 marked grave sites and provides information on the oldest name and date identified on the monument, a visual location, and a photograph of the marker.
With the help of student interns supported by Young Canada Works, the map has been expanded and enhanced to include the location and information on more than 10,000 unmarked graves within the cemetery.
With the updates, users now have the ability to submit additional information about interments. City of Peterborough geomatics/mapping staff, heritage preservation staff and Little Lake Cemetery collaborated on the mapping projects.
The Story Map application is an interactive webpage that allows users to explore themes relating to the City’s first burial ground, the growth of garden cemeteries, the development of Little Lake Cemetery, and stories of some historical figures from Peterborough’s past.
With nearly 30,000 burials in Little Lake Cemetery, the current map is not a complete record of interments at the cemetery. The City of Peterborough and Little Lake Cemetery foresee future projects will expand the numbers of graves recorded and the narratives presented on the story map.
Ribitt, a local tech startup focusing on rewarding consumers for purchases at local shops in their neighbourhood including Peterborough, announced it has raised $600,000 in seed round funding led by angel investors to expand to new neighbourhoods with its one-of-a-kind collective rewards program for local shops.
Using Ribitt’s mobile app, consumers can pay for purchases and collect Ribitt points when they grab their morning coffee, get a haircut or buy holiday gifts at participating local shops. Consumers can redeem these Ribitt points at any participating shop and for the first time, users do not have to wait to to fill out a full stamp card to use their points. Every purchase, no matter the shop, adds to the consumer’s Ribitt points.
RIBITT EXPANDING INTO TORONTO & BEYOND
Ribitt, Co-Founded by Sana Virji and Ribat Chowdhury, has more than 30 shops partnered in Peterborough and more than 100 in Toronto. Earlier this year, Ribitt launched in Roncesvalles and The Junction neighbourhoods in Toronto, and plans to begin its expansion across Canada in 2019.
“The future success of local shops lies in them coming together and leveraging their combined network,” says Co-Founder Sana Virji. “Participating in a rewards program at a single coffee shop is more effort than the value for consumers, so when local merchants in a neighbourhood join Ribitt’s single rewards program, they create huge value for their customers while giving them the competitive advantage of scale that bigger chains have.”
Ribitt’s reward program comes at a time when neighbourhood revitalization and preserving local commerce is a key focus for cities across North America. While Ribitt says there are 27 million “mom and pop” businesses in Canada and the U.S., individually they leave a small footprint and are stunted by the scale of larger retailers and service providers.
“My café and the Ribitt app launched around the same time, so it was a great opportunity to cross-promote each other starting out,” says Lindsay Brock, owner of Amusé Coffee Co. in Peterborough. “Ribitt has been wonderful in terms of gaining awareness for my business and it is a great opportunity for any business that is starting out in a new community or is trying to grow.”
Ribitt is yet another success story coming out of the Peterborough-based Innovation Cluster. As a client of the Innovation Cluster working out of its downtown incubator, Virji and Chowdhury have been able to grow their team, launch their mobile app, partner with stores in Peterborough and Toronto, and raise investment through the Peterborough Region Angel Network.
They have tremendous momentum heading into 2019 and beyond.
The City of Peterborough is making metered/pay-and-display parking much more convenient with the launch of HotSpot’s pay-by-phone parking solution announced on Thursday (November 22nd).
DETAILS ON THE APP
HotSpot, a Canadian tech company, provides an affordable pay-for-membership mobile app that offers users convenient parking solutions including:
-> Notification when their paid time is close to expiring
-> The option to add more time up to the maximum for the space
-> The option to cancel their parking session early and be refunded for any unused time
-> Access to all metered/pay-and-display parking in Peterborough
-> Consistent service throughout the City of Peterborough and Trent University campuses.
“We are excited to bring this convenient option for Peterborough drivers,” says Mayor-Elect Diane Therrien. “Instead of digging for coins for the parking meter, they’ll now be able to use their smartphone to pay electronically.”
“We see many people who are shopping, getting a hair cut or eating a meal worry about a pending ticket, and those people being able to add a few more minutes with this app is going to be great for downtown businesses,” says Terry Guiel, Executive Director, DBIA. “It’s great to see the city embrace this technology.”
Trent University’s Bata Library had a grand opening on Friday (November 16th) to celebrate its renovated space. Community members, donors and partners including the Innovation Cluster were present to celebrate the launch.
The library is now a host of the Entrepreneurship & Social Innovation Centre, a collaboration between the university, FastStart Peterborough and the Innovation Cluster.
The Innovation centre, which is located at the main entrance of the Bata Library, will focus on supporting students aspiring to enter entrepreneurship right on campus. An Innovation Specialist from the Innovation Cluster will be on site every Friday, and over time skills training, workshops and other events will be implemented.
“Through this new centre, students at Trent University will be able to access an environment of entrepreneurship on campus, and have mentorship available to kick-off their initial business planning,” says Michael Skinner, President & CEO, Innovation Cluster.
"The new Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation Centre will allow Trent students to have access to community resources on campus that will both bring awareness to entrepreneurship opportunities as well as implement skills training,” adds John Knight, Manager, Research Partnerships, Trent University.
Since opening in 2016, VentureNorth (270 George St. N.) has emerged as one of the most important buildings—”spaces” is perhaps a better word to describe it—in Peterborough, standing tall in the heart of downtown and symbolizing the city’s path as an innovative, entrepreneurial destination to encourage startups and existing businesses to grow and thrive.
Housing the likes of Innovation Cluster, Peterborough Economic Development, JA Peterborough, Community Futures Eastern Ontario, Peterborough & The Kawarthas Tourism and now Community Futures Peterborough, the VentureNorth hub has become a gateway to growth and networking for multiple startups and entrepreneurs, and those visiting or considering relocating to Peterborough. Not to mention it’s just a stone’s throw away from the business-growth, community-minded DBIA and Peterborough Chamber offices.
“We have been very excited about the success of the hub,” VentureNorth Co-Founder Paul Bennett tells PTBOCanada. “Now, Peterborough has a true one door location to start/expand/help a business grow and succeed. What we have seen in the last couple years has been amazing. The success of the Innovation Cluster, PED and JA has been inspiring. With Community Futures joining EOCFDC as part of the VentureNorth team, the sky is the limit for the future of entrepreneurship in our great community.”
The hub—which overlooks both the downtown and Otonabee River—took inspiration from similar successful models in Waterloo (Communitech), Toronto (DMZ) and Oshawa (Spark). But it has now forged a unique identify itself, fuelling an ecosystem of local leaders and innovators with its own “all-inclusive” ethos of offerings and organizations—a concierge service, if you will, to experts with a wide range of subject experise in various areas with a want to help you succeed.
”When the concept of VentureNorth was first envisioned, the goal was to bring all these great organizations together to help entrepreneurs and showcase the competitive advantage that we believe Peterborough has—the people and the place,” Bennett tells PTBOCanada. “We have an overwhelming supportive community and a way of life that is truly second to none. Once people are able to experience living and working in this great community, the roots get planted very quickly.
Indeed, collaboration has been a key ingredient in building momentum in Peterborough for forward thinkers and progress. Breaking down silos (something that can prevent you from thinking outside the box, excecuting on ideas, and just getting stuff done) has shed the barriers to growth, innovation and beta testing.
Growth can be accelerated here as Peterborough—with all the amenities of a big city but a small town feel—is primed to become an entrepreneurial region. It has great support partners at the hub and beyond, and Trent University and Fleming College are absolutely key ingredients and partners in training students and talent, many of which will stay here (retention is key) and become entrepreneurs and leaders.
The concept of VentureNorth from the get-go was to create an ecosystem where entrepreneurs and business people can connect and work alongside each other in open concept spaces to drive success and thrive. Startups and organizations can grow and succeed when they work side-by-side—learn from each other, motivate each other, push each other.
That is happening at VentureNorth, and indeed this hub—itself a startup still in its infancy—has been so successful that it is encountering a problem many startups face: running out of space. “Our struggle moving forward is that we don’t have any more space to offer,” Bennett tells PTBOCanada. “We have had many private businesses (local and from outside town) show interest in being part of this exciting ecosystem, but we don’t have anything to offer them.”
In response to this, the VentureNorth founders have begun planning a second phase to their vision for the building (see renderings above and below), which would bring much needed expanded space along with further aesthetic exterior and interior upgrades to a hub that has a contemporary design and feel.
“The idea would be to extend the same overall concept that was started with VentureNorth but expand to include some exciting private businesses and a banking partner,” Bennett tells PTBOCanada. “Much the way that Communitech in Waterloo expanded, we want to see VentureNorth expand and bring a great deal of life to our business sector downtown. This will hopefully spur more residential demand and supply in our core to see a new level of vibrancy in our downtown.”
These are exciting times for VentureNorth, which is helping put Peterborough on the map right up there with other Canadian cities like Waterloo that have fully embraced the innovation and tech economy. They are willing to play the long game to execute on their vision for building our innovation economy.
To further engage the community about VentureNorth and its promising future, there will be an Open House and Christmas Party on December 4th that the public is welcome to attend, where they can check out the building and see some of the exciting new businesses showcased in the Innovation Cluster showcase. More details will be coming on that soon.
Ingenuity will be the name of the game as more than 300 creative students from across Canada descend on Peterborough for Trent University’s 3rd Annual Electric City Hackathon event.
The Innovation Cluster will again sponsor the event, along with over a dozen tech supporters. It takes place between November 2th to 4th.
Electric City Hacks is a 37-hour student run event in the Trent Student Centre in Trent University’s Symons campus. This Hackathon will challenge student innovators to create innovative products with software and hardware, solving problems for communities.
“Electric City Hacks is a great opportunity for students and hackers of all skill levels and experience to come together to learn and invent products that solve issues within communities,” says Nicholas Barnes, president of the Trent Computer Science Society. “It promotes innovation, creativity and cooperation in a welcoming and inclusive environment, allowing participants to network with tech companies and one another.”
All post secondary and high school students interested in the development, innovation and progression of technology are encouraged to join. It will also be a fantastic networking opportunity as many representative scouts will be on hand to scout student talent in the tech industry.
“We are extremely excited to support the 3rd Annual Electric City Hacks,” says Michael Skinner, President & CEO of the Innovation Cluster. “This hackathon will be a great opportunity for students to expose talent, grow, recruit and bring new innovative companies to Peterborough.”
The hackathon will offer workshops, games, prizes and other activities to give hackers a break from their projects throughout the event.
To register for the event, click here.
Work has begun to convert the city’s 7,205 streetlights to Smart technology Light Emitting Diode (LED) streetlight fixtures, which will reduce energy use, electricity costs and maintenance costs.
The impact will be as follows…
Energy costs reduced by 54%
Maintenance costs reduced by 80%
Reduced light pollution (the LED fixtures are “Dark Sky Compliant” as all light is directed downward)
Better light quality for pedestrians and vehicle traffic