At a special meeting on Feb. 28, 2023, Orillia City Council approved the launch of an Orillia & Lake Country Innovation Collective three-year pilot project to provide economic development support services to the community that are aimed to foster collaboration, ideation and to develop and implement innovative thinking.
The Innovation Collective, which will be managed by the City’s Business Development, Culture and Tourism Department and supported by an Innovation Collective Operating Committee, will look to streamline processes and support to make it easier and more accessible for local and regional entrepreneurs to participate in and grow their business through the innovation economy.
“Working together is how we get things done, and the Innovation Collective pilot project is a great example of this,” said Mayor Don McIsaac. “Through collaboration with community partners to develop the Innovation Collective, the City is taking a lead role in supporting businesses and entrepreneurs in Orillia to adapt to a changing business climate through innovation, which will in turn support overall economic development in our area. I look forward to seeing the positive impacts of this exciting new collaborative.”
The Innovation Collective is a three-year pilot project. Funding for the project is primarily through the City of Orillia with $500,000 in funding allocated during the 2022 budget process from the Social Assistance and Economic Recovery COVID-19 Emergency Relief Reserve. An additional $150,000 was secured through the Rural Economic Development program offered through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
“Having a dedicated initiative to address the innovation economy will be vital to the future economic growth for the City of Orillia,” said Michael Ladouceur, Interim Director of Business Development, Culture and Tourism. “The Collective represents a unique opportunity to bring economic development support services to the forefront while also aligning the resources and expertise of faculty members, students and programming staﬀ at Lakehead University and Georgian College.”
The Innovation Collective will be supported by an operating committee consisting of members from Lakehead University, Orillia Area CDC, Georgian College, Simcoe County, the City of Orillia and two innovation experts from the local community. Orillia Council will provide its support through a liaison team of Mayor Don McIsaac and Coun. Whitney Smith. The liaison team will also include an additional business leader within the community who will be responsible to report back to Council semi-annually with progress updates on the objectives and outcomes of the Innovation Collective.
Innovation collectives create and support new ideas, products, and services. The goal of the Innovation Collective is to attract and support entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds, skills, and experiences to collaborate, explore and implement digital technologies that create new solutions to solve existing challenges and problems, which results in innovative economic growth. This type of environment fosters creativity, experimentation and risk-taking, which are all essential components of innovation.
For more information regarding the Innovation Collective as it becomes available, visit businessinorillia.ca.