More than 100 York University staff, partners, supporters and community members gathered for an evening of celebration to mark the second anniversary of YSpace located in Markham, Ont.
YSpace is York University’s community innovation hub that supports high-potential innovators. The celebration took place on Jan. 23 and featured presentations, samples and demonstrations from past and present YSpace ventures.
In their welcome remarks, Sarah Howe, director of Innovation York, and David Kwok, associate director of Entrepreneurship, highlighted YSpace’s many successes over the first two years of existence. Since it was founded, YSpace has become a key partner in the York Region innovation ecosystem and is one of the leading incubators and community innovation hubs in the region.
Throughout 2019, YSpace worked on expanding its Entrepreneurs in Residence roster to 12 powerhouse entrepreneurs. It launched Ontario’s first consumer packaged goods food and beverage accelerator and supported ventures in raising close to $6 million in investments and generating more than $3 million in revenue.
One of the startups highlighted by Howe and Kwok at the event was SV Robotics. Founded by Mayuran Ganesathas, a Lassonde School of Engineering student, SV Robotics is one of 32 startups incubated in YSpace. As a social enterprise, SV Robotics makes technological education accessible and affordable for youth and helps them accelerate past the basic curriculum. It uses project-based and experiential learning. Since joining YSpace, SV Robotics has experienced a 25 per cent month-over-month growth in their revenue and now offers weekend and evening training sessions at YSpace.
Howe and Kwok highlighted that as a place of opportunity, YSpace supports local, student and alumni startups with one-on-one coaching, incubation office space, and resources for training and funding. These offerings, in combination with the supportive and collaborative environment in YSpace, have created a well-connected community of entrepreneurs, each with a thriving business that strengthens the local economy.
In 2020, Howe and Kwok told those present at the celebration that YSpace will continue to increase its presence in York Region and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to help strengthen and grow this very important relationship. They provided an example – YSpace’s Founder Fundamentals program – a 13-week educational program designed to help community members gain the knowledge and skills needed to launch their startup. The program will be expanding into Newmarket and to York University’s Keele Campus, making it more accessible to the York Region community and most importantly, York University students.
Another success highlighted at the celebration showcased how YSpace has expanded its service offering with the launch of Ontario’s first food and beverage accelerator, supporting eight highly scalable ventures. As the program progressed, interest increased from the local community to scale this program regionally. York University and its partner York Region were selected as a “Place to Grow” grant recipient by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The grant will enable YSpace and York Region to deliver two new cohorts impacting 18 high-growth ventures and expanding their operations with two remote sites within the region.
YSpace’s success over the past two years can be attributed to the support and dedication from the leadership at York University, its community and partners, said Howe, noting that through these valuable relationships and initiatives, YSpace is poised to become the leading innovation hub to attract innovative companies and foster talent beyond the technology sector.