A huge crowd came out to the Innovation Alley Block Party yesterday to celebrate the success that the collective group of startups is having by leveraging the resources available in the Alley, especially those from North Forge and Bell MTS.
The crowd – which consisted of many Red River College students, instructors and innovation leaders – also came to hear the next big announcement for Winnipeg’s thriving startup ecosystem.
Premier Pallister was on hand with Mayor Bowman, Bell Canada President and CEO George Cope, and others to deliver the good news for tech startups in the Alley.
Bell announced its promise to launch its new Gigabit Fibe Internet and LTE Advanced wireless covering four blocks in the Alley which is in Winnipeg’s West Exchange District.
“With this technology, we can build here. There’s no better place to build than here. This is the place to be,” said Pallister. “Here’s one example where these improvements will assist those who are involved in innovation, involved in the tech sector tremendously.”
Permission Click co-founder and CEO Chris Johnson was thrilled with the news.
“This is game-changing,” said Johnson. “So many companies will benefit from this and it will open doors for more entrepreneurs to enter the space.”
Another Permission Click co-founder and Red River College instructor, Scott MacAulay was also thrilled with the announcement and the success that Innovation Alley has seen since its humble beginnings a little more than 5 years ago.
Permission Click – in just a few years of development – has attracted 65,000 users to its digital permission slip platform for schools and other organizations, while also raising $3 million in private equity and growing to 20 employees.
MacAulay was quick to credit the College’s Research Partnerships & Innovation (RPI) office’s College Applied Research Development (CARD) grant program for giving Permission Click a boost in its infancy.
“Permission Click built a better first version than it otherwise would have without the program’s support for our initial research needs with end users,” said MacAulay.
“And the College is a key part of the fabric of Innovation Alley.”
With initiatives like the expanding ACE Startup Space: Entrepreneur in Residence Program – which has produced Bit Space Development founder, Dan Blair – the College is set to play an even bigger role in the startup ecosystem.
“That program was instrumental to me becoming a startup entrepreneur and getting my business to where it is today,” said Blair. “And I’ve now employed tens of Red River College students from several disciplines – both as interns and full-time employees.”
RPI – the College’s research arm – is actively engaged with the startup and innovation communities in Winnipeg.
“We, along with academic leaders in the College have acknowledged the importance of the startup community and have provided boots on the ground support in terms of secondments of Scott MacAulay to Innovation Alley and previously, of Brent Wennekes to Innovate Manitoba,” said Ray Hoemsen, Executive Director of RPI. “That said, we are working on a number of initiatives to expand and leverage the College’s capacity to further support startup business in Manitoba, so stay tuned.”