New incubator and accelerator begins accepting applications

Promising to bring the world’s brightest business minds to the capital, a new incubator and accelerator for enterprise software opened its first application process Monday.

The venture, dubbed L-SPARK, is a partnership between Wesley Clover International and Invest Ottawa. Its managing director, Leo Lax, called the project unique.

“We focus solely on entrepreneurs who have a concept or product designed for existing and emerging enterprises,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Lax said this includes companies migrating to the cloud, using the software as a service (SaaS) model or moving to virtualize all aspects of running their business.

L-SPARK, to be housed at 340 Legget Dr. in Kanata, is pledging to build businesses rather than just enabling them. To that end, it will not provide a one-time injection of cash for a short-term launch. Instead, its accelerator process will last nine months, with the possibility of $360,000 in funding spread throughout that period.

The goal, according to a release, is to create “stand-alone companies that truly appeal to institutional investors.”

Shopify CPO Harley Finkelstein, an L-SPARK advisor, said this is just what entrepreneurs in Ottawa have been waiting for.

“L-SPARK is truly going to fuel the creation of next-generation enterprise software companies and continue building Ottawa’s reputation as a hotbed for innovation,” he said in a statement.

L-SPARK will provide mentorship, business advisers and sector-focused venture capital firms and angel investors, while exploiting the technological innovation reputation of the region.

Invest Ottawa president and CEO Bruce Lazenby promised L-SPARK will “provide unprecedented mentorship.”

Once the accelerator application process is complete, the top applicants will be brought to Ottawa for a “Pitchfest” where they will compete for one of the six spots available.

L-SPARK’s first incubator session is expected to launch later this year.

Wesley Clover International chairman Terry Matthews said he’s confident L-SPARK will get its job done.

“I feel sure that L-SPARK will generate many successful technology companies in our society and play a key role in the Canadian entrepreneurial landscape,” he said in a statement.