I still vividly recollect walking into the Accelerator building 10 years ago to start my new career and standing in the entrance wondering how it will all unfold.
When I started there were only half dozen companies in the building, there was no clear long term business model for the Accelerator, and I had to begin my education about business incubators and entrepreneurial ecosystems from scratch.
Fast forward a decade later, The Accelerator has had 200+ companies come through its doors, helped create 1300+ jobs, and has generated over $25M in regional economic impact. More importantly, working with our incredible board of directors, community partners, and investors, we have created the foundation for long term financial sustainability by purchasing one of the most historic buildings in Windsor. The best part is that we have done this like a startup, raising over $1M in private investment and creating a unique business model in the business incubation landscape.
When I took on my new role at The Accelerator, I had to make the tough choice to abandon all my previous doctoral work and choose a completely new topic that would make me an expert in business incubation and entrepreneurship. Fortunately, my supervisor, Dr. Kay Devine, who has been and still is an incredible mentor to me, not only supported my decision to switch dissertation topics, but recruited Dr. Donald Siegal, who is a world-leading researcher on the topic of entrepreneurship and technology transfer, to serve as my co-supervisor. My doctoral research has focused on business incubators in Canada and more broadly how social capital can be utilized to create ecosystems that help entrepreneurs thrive.
I enjoy research, but what I love most is being able to apply what I have l learned through my research to create real-life outcomes. For example, our relationship with Libro Credit Union provided the perfect partner for us when we purchased our building and Libro has opened their first Windsor office in our building.
Another significant relationship is with GAMIC, the Global Automotive & Mobility Innovation Challenge. Through GAMIC, we have been introduced to hundreds of global automotive and mobility companies that are looking to enter North America and The Accelerator serves as their ideal landing pad.
Time moves incredibly fast when you are passionate about the work you do and a decade seems to have flown by. It feels like a great chapter is closing and another incredible chapter is about to begin. I am incredibly excited about the future of The Accelerator, the future of our region, and the impact the startups we work with will have on the world.
I will leave you with a quote from the incomparable Peter Drucker, which has served as constant inspiration to me since I started this journey:
"The best way to predict the future is to create it."