Techopia Live: Tracking the evolution of Kanata's L-Spark accelerator

From its origins as an upstart accelerator for Canadian SaaS firms to its new program partnering with BlackBerry QNX, Kanata’s L-Spark has never been one to rest on its laurels. Managing director Patrick White joined Techopia Live this week to talk about how the accelerator has changed and what to expect in the years to come.

Founded back in 2014, L-Spark launched as an accelerator focused on aggressively scaling software-as-a-service firms. The high-growth mantra remains five years later, though the company has expanded its mandate to include cyber, IoT and deep tech companies. L-Spark’s 47-company portfolio – which includes Ottawa’s Cliniconex, Punchtime and Mydoma Studio – has collectively raised more than $30 million in financing to date.

Though the L-Spark program has always been national in scope, it attracted primarily Ottawa-based companies in the early years. White told Techopia Live that as its name grew, it ventured into more remote relationships with companies outside of the capital, lessening the demands on its Kanata office space.

“As we’ve been able to get more companies from the Toronto area or Montreal … our space has been open to different opportunities,” he said.

The open-desk opportunity led L-Spark to add co-working to its services this past summer, as White said the company saw a gap in the Kanata market for early-stage firms needing desk space. That offering has garnered interest from several founders in the first few months, opening the door to growing the program in the near future.

The other recent development at L-Spark has been a new partnership with BlackBerry QNX, which has seen an initial cohort of firms including Ottawa’s Martello Technologies and Bluink work with the Canadian tech giant in Kanata on commercializing new products.

White said the new accelerator program spawned from fellow L-Spark co-founder Leo Lax’s experience with Terry Matthews at Newbridge Networks. There, the firm would practise “corporate innovation” by plugging its resources into promising startups and early-stage companies in order to create the products its clients wanted.

Having a partner the likes of BlackBerry can do wonders for a startup and the surrounding ecosystem, White told Techopia Live.

“Just having a partner like a BlackBerry open up to doing something like this is a massive win not only for our region, but for our country,” he said.

While White noted early results from the five-month program are promising, he said it’ll be six months to a year down the line before the real rewards come to fruition, when the participating companies strike a new deal with BlackBerry or its customers to provide products or services born of the accelerator.

White also teased that further corporate partnerships are coming down the line, signalling that the original BlackBerry program may mark a significant milestone in L-Spark’s evolution.

Watch the video above to hear more about L-Spark’s growing role in the Kanata tech park and how KRP Properties is helping other tenants with their commercial space needs.