Centech: a launch pad for entrepreneurs in technology

26 October 2016 by

Centech is dedicated to the development and launch of new technology businesses.

Its director, Richard Chénier, explains to us how this entrepreneurship centre, affiliated with the École de technologie supérieure (School of Advanced Technology) (ETS), is accomplishing its mission.

What is Centech's mission?

The mission is to accelerate and power technology businesses. Our actions go beyond incubation: we transform a "technopreneur" into an entrepreneur. A technopreneur is someone who has developed a technological solution that meets market demands, but whose profile is oriented more toward the technological aspects than the business aspects of their project. Our job is to pave the way for them to become a true entrepreneur, so that their project becomes a commercial success.

How do you accomplish this transformation?

We work with them to develop all sides of a healthy and viable business, whether it's in marketing, sales, corporate structures, revenue model, finances, etc.

What programs are offered?

We have the Acceleration program, which lasts 12 weeks and serves to substantiate several elements of the business project: including the strength of the team and the traction of the product on the market. In the eleventh week, the entrepreneurs present their product to Anges Québec, an investment fund of “angel investors” created to provide financial support. In the twelfth week, they give their final presentation with the goal of being selected for the Propulsion program.

The Propulsion program oversees the actual launch of the business. The selected entrepreneurs are supported for two years, with everything they need to learn how to start a business: shareholder agreement, accounting structure, incorporation, trademark registration, financing, strategies for sales, production and distribution, etc.

Who can apply to your programs?

They are open to all technology entrepreneurs, regardless of where they come from. It's not limited to ETS students nor to engineering students. We have candidates from different universities and from various disciplines.

What resources and guidance do you offer them?

We have two resident technology entrepreneurs, who are people that have already launched more than one business and who can share their experience with budding entrepreneurs. We also have partnerships with a law firm, accounting firm, marketing firm and other experts capable of helping them make their projects become a reality.

In what ways are you different from other organizations like yours?

We are different in three ways. The first is that we work with projects known as "hard tech", meaning the manufacturing of objects, or "deep tech", meaning highly advanced technology. We have all kinds of projects that go beyond the norm, including robotics, drones, and the electrification of transportation.

The second distinctive factor is that the laboratories and equipment of the ETS are made available to our entrepreneurs. Thus, our start-ups have access to equipment that is sometimes worth up to more than one million dollars, which they can utilize to develop their projects, something that is not possible everywhere else. This is a huge advantage!

The third factor is that we work with businesses with the aim that they become viable and generate jobs and economic activity. The entrepreneurs in our program already have a solid idea of what they want to do.

Do you have examples of businesses that have seen success after going through Centech?

There are many, including Mecademic (miniaturized industrial robots), Kinova (robotic arm for persons with a mobility impairment) and CVT Corp (highly energy efficient transmissions).

Discover how the Centech has helped JOII.

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