About Ignite

What is Ignite?

Ignite is one of the most exciting, internationally recognized pitch competitions for Canadian technology, innovative or inventive entrepreneurs. The competition is organized by Spark Centre and supported by several municipalities and businesses across Durham Region.

Ignite begins with an application process which is open to all technology, innovative or inventive applicants and will end with an extraordinary finale celebrating the winners. By highlighting the local resources available to startups, we can show our entrepreneurs that Durham has everything they need to successfully start and grow their companies. Together, we hope to inspire, bring visibility and support entrepreneurs, ultimately creating jobs and economic wealth for Durham Region.

Now in its sixth year, the Ignite Pitch Competition looks to award upwards of $125,000 of seed funding to successful entrepreneurs. To date, Ignite has awarded over $300,000 in prize money and thousands of advisory hours to help companies start, grow, succeed.

Why Ignite?

Durham Region is in the middle of an economic shift. We can contribute to this exciting transformation by fostering a community of entrepreneurs. By making an example of high-potential companies through Ignite, we can demonstrate what is possible when the right ideas receive the right support. In addition, Ignite will showcase the exceptional local resources available to support new and existing businesses.

Why Compete in Ignite?

There are many reasons to compete in Ignite! The first thing that will catch most entrepreneur’s eyes is the cash prize:

Discovery Category: $25,000 CDN
Scale-up Category: $25,000 CDN sponsored by Beijing Future Science Park . The Scale-up category winner will also receive a one-week trip to Beijing for exploratory discussions
OPG Categories: Up to $75,000 CDN total

These cash prizes will help the winners to launch or scale their startups without adding any debt load, or diluting the founder’s equity. Outside of the prizes for winners, the Discovery & Scale-up winners will receive complimentary work space at Spark Centre’s head office for six months.

All participants will also learn how to pitch their ideas, have a chance to practice in front of real investors and entrepreneurs, and have an amazing opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs in the area!

Where did the idea come from?

There are accelerator programs in cities all over the world. The idea to run a similar project in Durham gained momentum in recent years thanks to the Region of Durham’s Art of Transition program. Discussions within the creative community revealed the need for a more diversified local economy, better links between businesses and creative professionals, and ultimately a stronger economy that can support arts and culture. At the same time, local startups and businesses were looking for community support. Then, in June 2012, Spark Centre opened with a mandate to help start and grow innovative local companies right here in Durham.


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