A unique partnership between Lakehead University, the City of Orillia, and the Orillia Area Community Development Corporation (CDC) is looking at how Orillia and surrounding area can contribute to the innovation economy.

A team from Lakehead, the CDC and the City’s Business Development and Communications Department have been working on the creation of an innovation hub for the past year, drawing experience and expertise from other community-based innovation development, in an effort to scope out a value proposition for the region.

Through funding received from the County of Simcoe, the partners will be consulting with area businesses, organizations and stakeholders, to gain a greater understanding of the needs required in the local and regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“It’s imperative that we look at creative and innovative ways to support local and regional business growth, retention and attraction without duplicating the efforts and programming that already exists, and which has a focus on the unique elements of our local and regional economies,” said Dr. Dean Jobin-Bevans, Principal of the Lakehead University Orillia campus.

Proponents of the project see the innovation hub aligning business, economic development and educational resources to foster research, innovation and new growth among new and existing businesses and organizations.

By creating community interaction and collaboration opportunities, and a potential incubation space across the multi-sectoral business community in Simcoe County, the group hopes to nurture the next generation of ideas and innovations on a homegrown level, positioning the region to attract young entrepreneurs and newcomers to the city and to the region.

“Smaller cities and rural communities have been under-resourced when it comes to business support services and regional innovation centres, and Orillia and surrounding area is no exception. Hearing directly from entrepreneurs, businesses and stakeholders on what would foster innovation at the local and regional level is a crucial step in determining what model could serve our area best,” said City of Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke.

A key deliverable for the innovation hub will be to develop a sustainable regional initiative in Orillia where the bulk of supporting resources are located. The hub will leverage resources from post-secondary institutions, municipalities, professionals, local businesses, investors, entrepreneurial start-ups, cultural groups, and social groups in a collaborative manner.

Public consultation sessions will be held on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

For more information, or to register for a consultation session, visit www.lakeheadu.ca/orilliainnovationhub

Media: For further information or to arrange an interview, contact Jaclyn Bucik, Media, Communications & Marketing Associate, at 705-330-4010 ext. 2014 or [email protected]

About Lakehead University
Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has 10 faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being named Research Infosource’s Research University of the Year in our category for the fifth consecutive year (2019); ranked, once again, among Canada’s top 10 primarily undergraduate universities in Maclean’s University Rankings 2021; as well as included in the top half of the Times Higher Education 2020 World University Rankings for the second consecutive year, and 98th among 766 universities from around the world in THE’s 2020 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit www.lakeheadu.ca

About the City of Orillia
The City of Orillia is a city of 31,000 people in the heart of Orillia & Lake Country on the shores of Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe. Visit our website at www.orillia.ca

About the Orillia Area CDC
The Community Development Corp. (CDC) is here to help your business start, grow and succeed! We provide counselling, training & funding to local businesses to support job creation, growth and innovation. We also work with many community partners on various community economic development projects to build an economy in Ontario’s Lake Country that is prosperous, growing and sustainable. Our business communities in the City of Orillia, Townships of Oro-Medonte, Ramara, Severn, and the Chippewas of Rama First Nation all benefit from our diverse range of services.