Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an application fee?

No! It is absolutely free to apply for Ignite.

How does it work?

All innovative, technology or invention based startup companies are invited to apply before September 11, 2015. Applicants will take part in one of the local pitch schools, which will be followed by a local pitch competition. Finalists from each local pitch competition will be invited to a central pitch competition.

Central Pitch Winners from the General and Youth categories will move on to the boardroom investment presentation.

The Student category winner will be chosen after the Central Pitch Competition and will not proceed to the Boardroom Bootcamp.
By the end of November 2015, two companies will be named the official Ignite Startups and will enter Thrive – Spark Centre’s new accelerator program – for a term of at least four months. During this period, Spark Centre will provide collective community resources. These include cash, mentorship, expert services, office space (and more) to help the companies achieve customer and market validation.

What category do I apply to?

General: Anyone 18+ in age with an innovative, technology or invention based startup or idea can apply to the General category.
Young Entrepreneur: Entrepreneurs aged 18-29 only are eligible for this category.
Student: Only students (18+) currently enrolled at an post-secondary academic institution in Durham Region are eligible to apply to the Student category. The Ignite Student winner will be chosen after the central pitch competition, receive $5,000 and will not proceed through Boardroom Bootcamp.

*Please note, eligibility for the Student and Young Entrepreneur categories requires the majority of shares are owned by entrepreneurs fitting the category restrictions. For applications where the company is not yet incorporated, the leading founder(s) must meet category restrictions.

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?

This year, we have added a new category to Ignite. 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 Central 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 the Young Entrepreneur or General category as well.

What exactly do the three Ignite Start-ups get?

The three selected companies will receive everything they need to launch a successful business, including:

Student Winner:

  • Money: $5,000 cash
  • Expert Advice: Access to Spark advisory and mentoring services
  • Recognition: Public recognition of winning the Central Pitch Contest


Young Entrepreneur and General Winners:

  • Money: $25,000 cash
  • Thrive: Winners will automatically be accepted into Spark’s incubator program – Thrive
  • Community Support: In-kind services from Spark Centre and local professionals valued at $25,000. Services may include web design, marketing, business coaching, office space, legal advice, accounting services, and more, depending on the company’s needs.
  • Expert Advice: Guidance from top CEOs, investors and serial entrepreneurs on our Power Panel.
  • Recognition: Public recognition of winning the Central Pitch Contest and Ignite 2014


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

No – you do not need to reside, or have a business located in Durham to apply. However, 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 join the Thrive program 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.

Can any business apply?

No – Ignite 2015 is limited to innovative, technology or invention based companies. We’re focusing on technology and innovation this year because that is our mandate – to help innovative, technology based companies.
Applications are also restricted to businesses which are less than five years old, and have less than $1,000,000 in annual revenues.

What happens at the 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 central 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.

What Happens IF I Do Not Win Ignite, but Want To Join The Thrive Program?

To enter Spark Centre Thrive program you do not have to win Ignite. Spark Centre reviews Thrive applications on an ongoing basis throughout the year and selects Thrive clients based on a high potential assessment.

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 Attended The Pitch School?

We limit it to two.

How Many People Can Pitch?

Only 1 Person can pitch.

How Many People Can Do The Bootcamp?

Your whole Team. (Max 4)

How Many People Can Present at The Boardroom Presentation?

Your whole Team. (Max 4)