The Accelerator Centre and Communitech Hub in Kitchener-Waterloo

Posted on November 21, 2011

Learning to leverage the Accelerator Centre and Communitech Hub in Kitchener-Waterloo (KW) can provide you with unique opportunities to springboard your company to success. Miovision, ClevrU, and Client Outlook are all local success stories that have graduated from these facilities.

In my conversations about the Accelerator Center (AC) and Communitech Hub, I continue to hear a lot of confusion between the the two. This post is for everyone who isn’t already involved in KW’s local startup community. If you are, you probably learned these lessons on your own.

The AC is a Waterloo-based, not-for-profit incubator funded by the Provincial and Federal governments. The centre is focused on growing sustainable technology businesses. The biggest advantage of participating in the AC is learning from companies who are facing similar challenges. The centre provides a variety of services to improve the chances of success. Services include office space (in return for rent), mentoring, onsite partners (legal, accounting, etc), and of course lots of networking. Arguably, the most important service they provide is access to in-house mentors who have broad startup experience. All startups must apply for acceptance into the AC.

The Hub is a Communitech-run incubator facility focused on digital media companies and is a member of the Canadian Digital Media Network. I find that the confusion between Communitech and the AC stems from the Hub itself. While Communitech runs (and brands) the Hub, the facility includes acceleration services provided by the Accelerator Center. If you apply you will notice that the information requested on both this application form and the AC application form are identical—word for word. As part of the application process you can indicate a preference for one facility or the other, if you want. When the Hub was built in 2010, the Accelerator Centre was already operating in the region and Communitech did the smart thing by asking the AC to run the acceleration services for the Hub as well.

Communitech uses the Hub as a central location for many of its own programs including encouraging startups to leverage local partners and sponsors. For example, RIM and a handful of other local companies have space within the Hub to meet with startups. When I was leading Developer Relations, I had someone from my team at the Hub every Tuesday in addition to running events at the facility.

The Hub also houses the Velocity program run by the University of Waterloo which provides incubation facilities aimed exclusively at students of the university. Next time, I’ll write more about Velocity.

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