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    Provincially funded operation in place to help entrepreneurs get the help they need to get to the next step – creating jobs.

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    By Pepper Parr

    BURLINGTON, ON  December 17, 2012  HalTech, one of those catchy names that governments are using to let you know they get it and that they understand.    This latest one links the Region of Halton with Technology, which as everyone knows is the sector that is going to save our economic bacon – everyone knows the teachers aren’t going to do it for us and we seem to have forgotten about the automotive sector which was once the engine of the province’s economy and therefore the economic engine of the country.

    HalTech is new to the Region but in their short lifespan they have managed to network like crazy and,  under very difficult circumstances,  held the 2012 Halton Entrepreneurship Week  that was a success and an example of how people with an entrepreneurial bent can pull things out of the fire when they have to.

    Karen Sievewright  President of the Region’s Innovation Centre, HalTECH, spoke at a Sheridan College Applied Research and Innovation event.

    Karen Sievewright  was given a sheet of paper with absolutely dismal numbers on it and pulled her staff into an office and said – ‘Team – hits the phones – these numbers are not what I have in mind’ and within the ten days she had left before the event was to take lace Sievewright and her team goosed their registration to a very respectable 120+ people.

    Gumption they’ve got.  Now do they have a future and just what is it they are going to do for the economy of the Region?

    Anything that has a link to the provincial government has several layers of bureaucracy attached to it and HalTech is no different.  They are part of the Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE) which is a collaborative network of organizations across Ontario, designed to help entrepreneurs commercialize their ideas. HalTech  is one of 14 Regional Innovation Centre’s (RIC’s) that want to attract the innovators,  the technology-based businesses, entrepreneurs and  researchers and connect them to services , and programs that will help them get their ideas beyond just talking about it and struggling to find a way to get the thing off the ground  to the point where it has been launched, has revenue and can employ people.

    Ralph Benmergui, a former Stand Up comic, has gone legit and is telling community college academics how to get innovation and creativity into the classroom.

    For those that have launched their business,  HalTech can help them get to their next level.  If it is about technology and entrepreneurship then Karen Sievewright  and her team want to talk to you.

    How do they help?  They start by asking a lot of questions to get a sense of just where you are with your project and then direct you to the help you need.

    You have someone who is prepared to invest in you?  What do you need to know before you accept the investment?  What is written on the Term Sheet (and if you don’t know what a Term Sheet is )– you do have to meet with HalTECH people)

    HalTech can help you find the mentor you might need.

    The have three EIR’s (Entrepreneur’s in Residence), people who know what entrepreneurship is all about and can serve as a guide for you.  The HalTech people are not there to hold your hand but they are there to move you along and give you the support that your bank is never going to give you.

    Middle Content

    They aren’t banker’s either and they aren’t going to write you a cheque but they can direct you to people who do write cheques and they can tell you who you need to talk to and the questions you need to ask.

    HalTech wants to talk to entrepreneurs in three groups: Growth companies – those with existing revenue who need support to expand their sales.

    Pre-revenue companies – those that have developed their products and business innovations but need to acquire their first three to five customers and Start Ups those who need help with the basics of launching a new business and navigating the grant and application process.

    Julie Lukkarila runs the Client Services Liaison part of the operation.  Her role is to gather basic information and then plug you into the appropriate people at the right level.

    The Regional Innovation Centre concept is certainly on the right track.  But a good idea and solid execution of the idea and delivering on the promise fits into that “between the lip and the cup” category; one does not automatically mean the other will follow.

    It was a standing room only event when Ralph Benmurgi spoke to faculty at Sheridan College recently about innovation and creativity becoming the driving force in the new economy.

    Ontario fully understands the economic challenge it faces; moving the province’s economy from the days when the automotive sector was the engine for the province and the province was the economic engine for the country .   Well – those days are gone aren’t they?  Now it is all about APPS – if you’ve got an APP, you’re part of the new economy.  The problem is that there are hundreds of people developing APPS with very few making a living at it.

    Sievewright and her team have a huge challenge in front of them.  Having the right people on the team is the first and most important step.   If we can round up enough of the directors who guide the HalTech operation in the next year we will ask them how they think this challenge can be met.

    Your part in all this, if you’re of an entrepreneurial bent and have an idea that is more than some scribbles on the back of an envelope, is to get in touch with the HalTech team – they’re there to help.  You can reach them at

    HalTech is new and they need clients just as much as the budding entrepreneur – so if you happen to have something that is hot, has some sex appeal and on paper at least looks strong – give them a call – quick – they are hungry and need a winner as badly as you do.  That’s call a win-win. Go for it.


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