By Christine Lacaze
Meet local tech incubator Centech, an up-and-coming organization with the wind in its sails at the heart of Quebec’s economic capital. Centech is a place where young entrepreneurs can organize and develop startups.
From Planetarium to Centech
Inaugurated in 1966, the Dow Planetarium is an iconic Montreal institution. In the past, people visited to understand space, get to know the stars and the planets. According to Brigitte Stock, head of communications at Centech, the Planetarium truly inspired generations of Montrealers - but it closed its doors in 2011.
In 2013, ÉTS (École de technologie supérieure) became the official owner of the Dow Planetarium - but what was the idea behind the purchase? “ÉTS is in the process of creating a real university campus. Due to its role, Centech has become a hub for open innovation, servicing entrepreneurship in technology. As it is inside the former Planetarium, Centech will beautifully symbolize the entrance into the Quartier de l’innovation (innovation quarter),” explains Stock.
Centech: A Business Accelerator
Centech is a not-for-profit organization created by ÉTS in 1996. Today, it is a business incubator for emerging tech business in Canada - it’s at the forefront, and still growing. Stock says, “We are currently taking on three cohorts per year and plan to instigate three extra, specialized cohorts in 2018 in the following sectors: medical technology, aerospace and materials technology, and advanced systems information. The Planetarium has naturally presented itself as the harbinger of this growth.” In other words, Centech is seeing big, and for good reason. Its goal is to increase the amount of innovative infrastructure offered to tech businesses, irrespective of where they are from, and to make the Planetarium a tool for community development.
18 000 sq.ft. to Support Centech’s Growth
Centech’s expanded work spaces are to open in May 2018. Within the former Planetarium’s 18 000 sq.ft., a number of services will be available: open innovation cells, a help service for entrepreneurs, and Centech’s administrative department.
Thanks to the new space, Centech will be able to increase capacity, and the amount of infrastructure for innovation will flourish. Corporate spaces and the launch of a new program, “ÉTS Entreprise” (ÉTS Business) will also accompany these changes. “It will answer to big business expectations in terms of innovation by providing privileged access to young, innovative businesses, professorial knowledge and a highly-qualified workforce (of interns and graduates),” explains Stock.
An Innovative Project for Montreal
Stock says, “In the past,visitors went to the Planetarium to see stars - today, they will be matched with the rising stars of the tech industry.”
Centech hopes to become a true epicenter for innovation, welcoming high-level tech businesses recognized on the world stage and who add value here in Montreal, Quebec, and Canada. The organization dreams of seeing Montreal on the list of the top ten business ecosystems in the world.
Centech has teamed up with QI, creating important ties that they say will be a boon to the attainment of its goals. “QI is a key partner because it shines - it has an international scope, which for us is very important. It is the keystone for innovation in Montreal - an absolutely golden partnership.”