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Federal and provincial governments invest in the Genesis Centre

David King of the Genesis Centre.

By Meaghan Whelan

Emerging Newfoundland and Labrador technology companies will benefit from access to experienced mentorship thanks to a combined $859,400 investment by the Governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador in Memorial University’s Genesis Centre.

Keith Ashfield, minister of National Revenue, minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and minister for the Atlantic Gateway; and Shawn Skinner, minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development joined Memorial President Dr. Gary Kachanoski for the announcement on Nov. 8, 2010.

The Genesis Centre is a support network and incubator for technology-based ventures with high-growth potential that are seeking business guidance and capital. A small number of businesses are selected for incubation based on a competitive process, and these companies work with the centre’s experts to develop their businesses for future success in the private sector.

“Memorial University is strongly committed to ensuring the successful commercialization of innovative ideas arising from our world-class research and development efforts and from the broader community,” said Dr. Kachanoski. “We welcome these additional investments in our Genesis Centre which build upon a record of success in mentoring early high-technology companies, especially in the ocean technology sector.”

Genesis Centre graduates and clients have created more than 450 new jobs and have secured the investment of nearly $18 million in private equity.

Since 2006, ACOA has invested almost $2 million in the Genesis Centre.

“Our government supports the important work of the Genesis Centre as it assists young technology companies to grow and become successful by developing their business skills, innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Minister Ashfield. “This focus on mentoring ocean technology businesses over the next two years will contribute to the continued development of the ocean technology industry in this province and build a stronger economy in Atlantic Canada.”

Support of business incubators was identified as a key element of Oceans of Opportunity, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s five year, $28 million strategy designed to accelerate growth of the province’s ocean technology sector. The provincial government is providing $350,000 over two years to the Genesis Centre under this strategy.

“Ensuring entrepreneurs have access to the appropriate vehicles and mechanisms to take their idea from start-up to prosperous enterprises is a goal of the province’s ocean technology strategy,” said Minister Skinner. “Business incubators provide an effective means for entrepreneurs to receive the support they need through proven mentoring and management expertise. With this investment, the Genesis Centre will enable the province’s creative thinkers to take the steps they need to become successful entrepreneurs.”

Funding over the next two years will include a targeted effort to develop young technology companies in the ocean sector.

The $1.3 million project is being supported federally through ACOA’s Business Development Program ($450,000); and the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program ($59,400). The provincial government is investing $350,000 over two years, and Memorial University is making an in-kind contribution of $328,500. The Genesis Centre is contributing the remaining $163,618.

ClearRisk Inc. graduates from the Genesis

ClearRisk Inc., developer of web-based risk management resources for medium-sized organizations, celebrated its graduation from Memorial University’s Genesis Centre recently. ClearRisk’s impressive success to date was recognized at a ceremony on the St. John’s campus, attended by many representatives of the local business, government and university communities.
The Genesis Centre is Memorial’s business support network for technology-based ventures that have high growth potential, and are seeking business guidance and capital.

ClearRisk graduates from the centre have received significant private investment from several local angel investors. ClearRisk has also partnered with Sitkins International, a private client group for some of the top independent insurance agencies and brokerages in the United States, Canada and Latin America. Sitkins International is comprised of more than 125 members representing about $4 billion in premiums. ClearRisk will help Sitkins clients deliver their Risk Reduction Approach™ to their members and their members’ clients.

ClearRisk was conceptualized and is led by Craig Rowe who has been in the risk and insurance industry since 1989. In 2006, Mr. Rowe started ClearRisk with Dave d'Entremont who brought the necessary technical background to the company. ClearRisk’s solutions are built for insurance brokers, medium-sized organizations and professional risk managers who are looking for an easy and affordable way to manage risk.

The company has launched French and Spanish versions of one of its products, and has its first Spanish-speaking clients in Peru. ClearRisk has been a client at the Genesis Centre since 2007. The company now employs 11 people.

— Meaghan Whelan