Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a fee to apply?

There is a $25 fee (plus applicable tax) to apply to the Discovery & Scale-up categories.

There is no fee to apply to the Student Entrepreneur or Ontario Power Generation Categories.

How does it work?

All innovative, technology or invention based startup companies are invited to apply before September 29, 2017. Applicants will take part in a pitch school, which will be followed by a 60 second pitch competition. Finalists from each pitch competition will be invited to the Round 2 Pitch Competition.

Round 2 Pitch Winners from the Discovery and Scale-up categories will move on to the boardroom investment presentation.

The Student category winner will be chosen after the Round 2 Pitch Competition and will not proceed to the Boardroom Competition.

The OPG category will host a separate Round 2 Pitch Competition and Boardroom Competition with an OPG power panel to help choose their finalist and winner.

In December 2017, two companies will be named the official Ignite winners and OPG will choose a winner of their category.

For FAQs related to the OPG Category, please CLICK HERE

What category do I apply to?

Discovery Category – For innovators who are in the ideation or discovery stage of their business.
Ideation– exploration stage
Discovery– testing ideas, proof of concept, identifying customers

Scale-Up Category – For innovators who are in the validation, efficiency or scale stage of their business.
Validation– prototype, customer verified, initial orders, Go-to market strategy, pursuing angel funding
Efficiency– Initial market traction, scaling sales and marketing, financial forecasting, pursuing early stage VC
Scale– Validated product and market; customer growth, established management team, pursuing later-stage investment

Student Entrepreneur Category – For students attending a post-secondary institution as of September 2017 that have an idea for an innovative, technology or invention based business.

Ontario Power Generation Category – For innovators who want to make an impact in the energy industry and collaborate with OPG. This category is geared towards start-ups and scale-ups that have an original technology in the early-stage, that is innovative and not an already existing product or service available for sale. The product or service should provide a solution to a problem within the scope of OPG’s inspection & maintenance division.

Applicants in all categories must be 18+

PLEASE NOTE: If you are unsure of what category to apply to, please email Spark Centre reserves the right to move applicants to a different category based on review of you application (no additional fees will apply)

What do I win?

Details of winnings vary by category.

Discovery Category: $25,000 CDN and work space at Spark Centre’s head office, The Loft in Downtown Oshawa for six months. Additional support from Spark Centre as a client including executive coaching, functional advisory and day to day operational support.

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, in addition to an in-kind prize of $5,000 CDN in professional services from Bereskin & Parr. The winner will also get work space at Spark Centre’s head office, The Loft in Downtown Oshawa for six months. Additional support from Spark Centre as a client including executive coaching, functional advisory and day to day operational support.

Student Entrepreneur Category: $5,000 CDN and an in-kind prize of $1,250 in professional legal service from Thomas & Efraim LLP. Additional support from Spark Centre as a client including executive coaching, functional advisory and day to day operational support.

Ontario Power Generation Category: The winner of this category will receive an opportunity to collaborate with Ontario Power Generation in addition to $25,000 CDN of seed funding to further develop their idea.

All winnings are subject to terms & conditions.

Can I apply to more than one category?

No – applicants are only eligible to apply to one category.

Why have a separate category for students?

Students who are currently enrolled in a post-secondary institution are able to compete against each other for a cash prize of $5,000 to start or scale their startup. Many of Spark Centre’s highest potential startups are created by students, and it is important that we support those ideas and entrepreneurs at the earliest stages of business. The student winner will be decided at the Round 2 Pitch Competition, reducing the time commitment required as students are actively participating in the fall semester during Ignite.

*Please note that students do not have to participate in the Student category – they are able to participate in any category they choose.

Do I have to be a resident of Durham Region, ON to apply?

No – you do not need to reside, or have a business located in Durham to apply.

For the Discovery, Scale-up and Student category – if your business is currently located outside Durham and you are successful in becoming an Ignite winner, you will have to move in to or start your business in the Spark Centre offices in Oshawa or Whitby, and become a client as per the Ignite Terms and Conditions and Spark Client Terms and Conditions. If you are entering in the Student category, you must be currently enrolled in a post-secondary institution within Durham Region.

For the OPG Category – you do not have to live or have your business located in Durham Region.

Can any business apply?

No – Ignite 2017 is limited to innovative, technology or invention based companies. We’re focusing on technology and innovation because that is our mandate – to help innovative, technology based companies.

Applications for all categories are also restricted to businesses which are less than five years old, and have less than $1,000,000 in annual revenues. Applicants in all categories must also be 18+.

What happens at the Round 1 Pitch Competitions?

Participants will be required to deliver a 60 second pitch to a power panel at the local pitch competitions. Those selected to move on to the competition will be asked to prepare and deliver a more in-depth 3 minute pitch to the Ignite Power Panel at the round 2 pitch competition.

What happens at the Boardroom Presentation?

Participants selected to move forward as finalists to the Boardroom component must prepare and deliver a formal, 20 minute investment presentation to the Ignite Power Panel. Following the presentation, the Power Panel will be given 10 minutes to question the finalists on all aspects of their business.

Can I miss the Schools and still compete in the Competitions?

No. Your attendance is required at all of your designated Pitch Schools.

Will Spark Reimburse Me For traveling To The Schools and Competitions?

Unfortunately not.

What If I Am Not Sure If I meet The Criteria?

Apply anyway. We will do the assessment and notify you if you are eligible.

How Many People From My Company Can Attend The Pitch School?

We limit it to two.

How Many People Can Pitch?

Only 1 Person can pitch.

How Many People Can Present at The Boardroom Presentation?

Your whole Team. (Max 4)