Innovate Calgary to Open ‘Co-Program’ Space Called The Inc.

Innovate Calgary is adding a new service to their portfolio, announcing the opening of The Inc. later this year. The Inc. is a coworking space for early stage startups in the technology space for companies within Calgary and Southern Alberta, but will offer more than just desk space.

“It’s designed in the spirit of a coworking space if you think about it today in terms of the physical environment, but The Inc. is more of a ‘co-program’ space,” says Steven McIlvenna, Director of Entrepreneur Development at Innovate Calgary.

The Inc. aims to bring together entrepreneurs to be part of the community and interact with their peers within the space—and at the same time have access to coaching and mentoring that will be integrated within The Inc.’s programs. Startups working in, and using programs at The Inc., will be attending monthly checkpoints with Innovate Calgary’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence and supervising team, to make sure that the companies are learning from the programs and applying the new skills to their businesses.

The checkpoints are also a way for Innovate Calgary to measure the effectiveness of their programs. Innovate Calgary plans to concentrate on the following at The Inc.:

  • Entrepreneur Development – learning entrepreneurial skills and understanding;
  • Opportunity Development – moving forward on a certain ideal or concept; and
  • Company Development – building a team.

Entrepreneurs wanting to work at The Inc. should be at a “sweet spot” within their company growth. “They’re likely to be coming out of concept mode and moving into what we call ‘opportunity development mode,’” says McIlvenna. They could also be further along in their company development, but need a small space for their team to focus and work towards the next stage of growth.

The Inc. came from a successful pilot project called microInc., where Innovate Calgary opened up six desks to a group of startups . The expanded space, which will occupy over 2,000 square feet at the Alastair Ross Technology Centre, will have open desks, bookable spaces, and meeting rooms, as well as resources for Southern Alberta startups working remotely.

Part of the screening process for startups to work at The Inc. is fit – not only for where they are in their  growth, but also how they will interact with the other startups in the space, to allow for what McIlvenna refers to as “cross-fertilization of ideas” and engagement. They will also have a quarterly cohort so everyone can meet and catch-up with each other.

McIlvenna, who is also an entrepreneur  believes that The Inc. will bring together Innovate Calgary’s more formal programming with the notion of serendipity by bringing entrepreneurs together. Citing an old article in The Economist, “Serendipity is one of the hardest to measure, but seems to be one of the most important factors in the success of opportunities,” McIlvenna said. “So many factors have to come together at the right moment. Mixing people together in this way is a really good attempt to access that serendipity.”

The space is scheduled to open in November. To apply for a space at The Inc., contact Innovate Calgary.