TechPlace celebrates 5-years!

Submitted ByBurlington Economic Development

TechPlace was the first of its kind and has been recognized by IEDC as a best-in-class example of how economic development agencies can support innovation and entrepreneurship.  In September 2022, TechPlace celebrated the 5th anniversary of the space, which Burlington Economic Development launched in 2017 to support the start-up and growth of new businesses in Burlington.  

TechPlace is an 8,500 square foot space in Burlington where start-ups and innovation can thrive. We opened TechPlace to bring entrepreneurs, start-ups and the organizations that support them together. However, the COVID-19 pandemic happened, requiring people to stay home and social distance. It was a time that required our team to get creative with running day-to-day operations and today we are incredibly proud of how we were able to keep TechPlace going throughout the pandemic. Our 2022 open house was also a celebration of the return to the space and the renewal of the community. It is also where we released our 2021 Annual Report and 5-year TechPlace impact report, which were both distributed and received strong praise from attendees.  

The purpose of the event was to reintroduce TechPlace as a vibrant space post-pandemic as it was the first in-person event at TechPlace that took place after pandemic shutdowns, since March 2020. With more than 100 people in attendance, the event featured several companies that have directly benefitted from TechPlace over the years. We believe that the space speaks for itself and the best way to showcase its value is through having our members be our brand ambassadors. At our Open House, we also invited our educational and programing partners and our LaunchPad companies. By giving them a platform to speak about TechPlace in an informal setting we were able to showcase firsthand the impact of TechPlace on the regional innovation ecosystem. Partners such as Wilfrid Laurier University and Mohawk College were present with a booth at the Open House to showcase our partnerships and how they can support businesses with hiring and R&D. Additionally members who were users pre-pandemic, potential new members, as well as the business community were invited. 

 The event assured the community that TechPlace remains at the core of Burlington Economic Development’s innovation and entrepreneurship strategy through releasing our 2021 Annual Report, TechPlace Impact Report and announcing our new international start-ups soft landing program, Acceleration+.  The event did a great job in creating momentum as in the past year, we have hosted over 40 events, and welcomed over 800 visitors. We have also started welcoming international delegations through the space and hosting familiarization tours to attract international start-ups to soft-land in Burlington.  

 As the TechPlace 5-year Anniversary event was the first in-person event post COVID-19, there was hesitation about facilitating social distancing at an event of such a large size. We aimed to increase everyone’s comfort level by continuing COVID protocols such as signage regarding our COVID policies and hand sanitizer throughout the space.  At the Open House, we also had raffles with prizes from Burlington businesses to ensure we were supporting local and increase visibility of brick and mortal businesses. 

The TechPlace 5-year Anniversary Open House is an event worthy of an award because it celebrates and promotes innovation not just by talking about it, but by showing it. We believe that the best way for us to support is to provide the space, and then let the community take the lead. We like to say that TechPlace provides the space, and the community brings the energy. TechPlace is a best-in-class example of how local EDOs can support innovation, and the 5-year event was an award-worthy example of how to reinvigorate an entrepreneurial community and generate excitement following the global pandemic.