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Dalhousie University plans ideaHUB accelerator as part of downtown campus revitalization

Dalhousie University president Richard Florizone used the stage at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce’s annual fall dinner earlier this month to announce the creation of a new incubator space called ideaHUB, which will be aimed at helping engineering students commercialize their ideas while also providing support to local start-ups and small businesses when it opens in 2018.
ideaHUB will be a 10,000 square-foot space containing testing and fabrication facilities so that student engineers can create physical prototypes of their ideas, and co-working space for bringing start-ups together with outside collaborators.
Florizone noted in his speech the fact that there has been more than $1.5 billion in exits by Atlantic Canadian start-ups over the past five years, including Fredericton’s Radian6 to Salesforce.com in 2011 for US$276 million in cash and US$50 million in stock, Q1 Labs to IBM for US$500 million, and Dartmouth’s Ocean Nutrition Canada to Royal DSM for $540 million in 2012.
“ideaHUB will be the most advanced engineering incubator and accelerator space in Canada,” said Dr. Florizone to the Chamber of Commerce dinner and reported by Dal News. “It will add important capacity to our entrepreneurial ecosystem, adding further momentum to what is rapidly becoming one of Canada’s most dynamic startup scenes.”
In 2014, the ONE Nova Scotia 10 Year Collaborative Action Plan issued a report called “Now or Never”, which called for increasing the number of new start-ups, improving youth unemployment, increasing partnerships between enterprise and university R&D, and attracting more venture capital investment.
ideaHUB will be a partnership between Dalhousie, Acadia University and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD), and will be housed in Dalhousie’s new $64 million downtown Sexton Campus revitalization, bringing student-led projects into contact with the corporate sector, local entrepreneurs, government and venture capital.
Emera Inc. executive vice-president of stakeholder relations Bob Hanf joined Dr. Florizone for the announcement, to confirm that Emera would be investing $10 million to support ideaHUB.
Emera will be one of ideaHUB’s founding partners, along with Volta Labs, Innovacorp, Clearwater Seafoods, Micco Companies and Build Ventures.
“Innovation plays a strong role in spurring economic growth and opportunity,” said Hanf. “The ideaHUB will support innovation and foster new ideas right here in Nova Scotia. This benefits, not only our students, but the Province as a whole. This project is great fit for Emera and we’re very proud to be partnering with Dal to make the ideaHUB a reality.”
“This is not just a Dalhousie story, or an Emera story,” said Florizone. “This is a story of what Nova Scotians can do when we come together and work differently.”
Local entrepreneurs John Risley and Colin MacDonald, co-founders of Clearwater Seafoods, and Micco president and CEO Mickey MacDonald, have committed $2.5 million in additional private sector funding.
Risley is the chairman of Clearwater Seafoods and Columbus Communications co-founder, who recently gifted $25 million to Dalhousie’s Ocean Frontier Institute, a collaborative marine research initiative between Dalhousie, Memorial University in St. John’s and the University of Prince Edward Island.
Risley also participated in Kinduct Technologies’ US$9 million Series A round through his CFFI Ventures Inc.

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