By Kirk Winter

Michael Skinner, President and CEO of Innovation Cluster – Peterborough and the Kawarthas, made a presentation to Council at their March 19 meeting about attempts to foster, fund and support cutting edge businesses across central Ontario.

The Innovation Cluster began in Peterborough, the product of a Trent University/Fleming College/private business partnership with the stated goal of fostering high-tech innovation in the area. At the request of Fleming College, the Innovation Cluster expanded their area of operation to the City of Kawartha Lakes not that long ago.

The Innovation Cluster focuses on assisting four kinds of business entrepreneurs in getting their companies up and running, including:

  • Clean water technology

  • Health care and DNA research

  • Agricultural technology

  • Digital technology

Their focus is almost exclusively on the entrepreneur who has intellectual property, and is looking for the proper way to build a business that will best exploit their cutting edge ideas.

Services for entrepreneurs offered at the Innovation Cluster include but are not limited to:

  • How to build your company

  • How to protect your intellectual property

  • How to access investment capital

  • How to bring like minded entrepreneurs together.

Skinner shared the early success of business people who have benefitted from the incubation process offered by the Innovation Cluster. He said that 80 percent of all firms typically fail in their first two years on the open market. Those working with the Innovation Cluster only have a 30 percent failure rate in the same two-year window.

The Innovation Cluster is supporting and assisting 86 startups in the Peterborough area that have created 171 new jobs, and have created $15 million in new wealth. In CKL, Skinner says, his group is supporting eight startups that have produced 20 new jobs and $2.3 million in new wealth.

The Innovation Cluster, and Rebecca Mustard, Manager of Economic Development for CKL, are hoping for a much closer relationship in the future between the Cluster and the City.

City HallDeb Crossen