26 Jan 2017
Entrepreneurship & Management
Former Dow Planetarium to House Centech Extension
The former Dow Planetarium of Montréal, acquired by ÉTS in 2013, now has a specific purpose: it will be an extension of Centech, acting as a technological innovation knowledge-transfer ecosystem, helping entrepreneurs to successfully launch their businesses. The building is located in the Griffintown neighborhood, at 1000 Saint-Jacques Street in Montréal, in the heart of the Quartier de l’Innovation.
With the addition of this new building, Centech will have a total area of approximately 40,000 square feet (3716 square meters). The planning team is currently completing the development phase with work beginning in 2017, and a scheduled 2018 opening.
The building will house the following services:
- Centech Acceleration Program
- Corporate spaces
- Ideation room
- ML2 (Maison du logiciel libre)
- Centech Service Center
- Common meeting rooms
- Coffee lounge
The Propulsion Program, an important component of Centech, will remain in the existing building on Monfort Street, just a stone’s throw away from the former Planetarium.
To develop the Centech 4.0 approach (the fourth version of Centech), managers studied characteristics of a great number of incubators, organizations, corporate spaces, co-working ventures and others around the world that provide support to start-up companies. Centech was inspired by, among others, Communitech, an exceptional start-up ecosystem based in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario, for its corporate space concept.
1. Centech Acceleration Program
The Centech Acceleration Program, which allows entrepreneurs to develop their business idea, will be located in the heart of the new building, on the first floor, under the dome. Start-ups will be able to refine their ideas, develop their teams, and improve their prototypes and business models. The Acceleration Program will accommodate a maximum of 16 start-ups per cohort (three cohorts per year). Companies with the most promising projects in the Acceleration Program will be invited to join the Propulsion Program.
2. Corporate Spaces
The corporate spaces are the great innovation of the Centech 4.0 approach. These spaces will allow large corporations to rent a corporate space annually in order to innovate with the contribution of graduate students. Six trainees from ÉTS, McGill, Concordia, HEC, UQAM, etc. will have four months to find a solution, product or service according to the challenge, constraints, and rules set by the corporation. Project managers will coordinate the work of the trainees in view of one project manager per two teams.
At the end of their internship, the interns may enroll in the Centech Acceleration Program to create their own start-ups if they wish to pursue their innovation process. The corporate spaces will be open spaces of approximately 600 square feet (56 square meters). Interns, their professors, and the participating corporations will be eligible for Mitacs funding for the duration of the internship. This new short-term (four months) business model is complementary to the longer-term research work of a research chair or research laboratory.
Large corporations will want to move into the Centech corporate spaces for the following reasons:
- To isolate an innovation from its ecosystem: the corporate spaces will allow them to provide leadership for an external team to meet their challenges, carry out a test bench or complete an innovation project. Many corporations have challenges, needs, products or services to develop, with no time to devote to them, nor human resources to work on them. Additionally, internal organizational constraints often interfere with innovation development.
- To develop a pool of new talent that they may eventually hire afterward.
- To create start-ups with missions that complement their own.
- To learn to work and forge connections with start-ups.
3. Ideation Room
The Ideation room, currently located in the Ingo building, will be relocated to the new Centech building. It will be very useful for start-ups needing to do some ideation and for corporate space trainees needing ideas to solve the challenges submitted by large corporations in the corporate spaces.
4. ML2 (Maison du logiciel libre)
ML2 opened on December 1, 2015, at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), with the support of Google and Savoir-faire Linux. ML2 will move to Centech, to a space in the former Planetarium. The projects developed at ML2 are undertaken by students conducting their end-of-studies project, mandatory internship or Master’s thesis using open-source codes. This proximity will allow start-ups to discuss and to hire programmers, resources crucial to the advancement of their work. Several projects under development in the corporate spaces will also require programmers to ensure their completion.
5. Centech Service Center
The Centech team will move to the former Planetarium to provide support to start-ups in their acceleration phase, to support innovations in the corporate spaces and to coordinate use of the venues.
Richard Chénier is the Centech General Manager, Luc Giguère, the Entrepreneur in Residence, Noah Redler, the Entrepreneurship Special Advisor, Ted Hill, the Technology Advisor, Natasha Joseph and Sharon Lenette, the Administrative Assistants.
6. Common Meeting Rooms
Two large rooms and four smaller enclosed rooms will be available for meetings, work sessions or networking.
7. Coffee Lounge
A coffee area will be provided for refreshments and discussions. Several researches demonstrated the importance of this type of venue to exchange, hatch new ideas or develop existing ones.
The Propulsion Program
Start-ups invited to continue their process will be able to establish their headquarters in the current Centech building for a maximum of 2 years. These companies will have had the opportunity, from their time spent in the Acceleration Program, to build a strong team, to develop a product or service tailored to market demand, and to develop a business plan with potential for international growth. The entrepreneurs will have gained autonomy by that stage and will be able to devote themselves full-time to their new business.
Centech plans to generate innovations in several ways with this new 4.0 approach. From a business incubator, the Centech brand is evolving into an ecosystem for the transfer of technological innovations, with the specific goal of marketing them successfully. Through this approach, Centech is increasingly becoming an open and multidisciplinary space for entrepreneurship.
Richard Chénier is the ÉTS Centech CEO. He was the Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation Director, and ÉTS formation Director at the ÉTS. He completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in communication.