Rejoicing over the Accelerator Centre

At the 10th anniversary of the Accelerator Centre in the David Johnson Research and Technology Park, members of the extended Waterloo community deserve our warmest congratulations for their significant contribution to practical education, human resource development, scientific and information technology development and application, and especially to the economic progress of Ontario and the future economic prosperity of Canada.

Here is a summary of the centre’s major achievements, as stated on its website:

“Since we opened our doors to clients in 2006, the Accelerator Centre (AC) has developed and nurtured over 130 early stage technology startups, creating 1,100+ new jobs, generating over $120 million in revenue. Forty companies have graduated from the AC and more than 85% of these companies have remained in Waterloo Region.”

As we congratulate Waterloo’s extended community on the stellar success of its Accelerator Centre, it is important to specify that that community goes way beyond the Waterloo Region’s academic institutions and libraries. The region, which includes Waterloo, Cambridge, and Kitchener, has already earned its laurels through the teaching and research staff, the administrative staff at all levels and the student population.

We also want to recognize the curiosity and entrepreneurial spirit of those persons who bring their ideas to the centre. Most of them are apprentice entrepreneurs.

And last, but certainly not least, we must point out that the business community and all three levels of government (federal, provincial and municipal) have given generously in terms of financial and other forms of support, fully aware of the valuable potential of the centre in the areas outlined above.

That potential is equally significant in terms of reminding us of what true “education” entails, what it is supposed to be.

As an incubator for start-ups mainly in the science and technology field, the centre is specifically focused on bridging the gap between theory and practice, a cardinal feature of meaningful and effective learning. It helps us to bring abstract ideas and principles into the “real world” of our daily lives.

A second benefit flowing directly from that bridging process is the fact the centre demonstrates that education should be designed and delivered in a way that makes students job-ready at the time they graduate.

The centre also provides a third benefit involving that same bridging process: it introduces our apprentice entrepreneurs to the experienced business professionals of the private sector. This mentorship experience opens up the option for those businesspersons and their companies to recruit the centre’s “graduates” and to purchase the new businesses that flourished in the centre’s creative and supportive environment.

Similarly, the centre’s apprentice entrepreneurs can develop valuable relationships with government technocrats in projects that are enhanced by a solid grasp of the positive impact of public policy planning and implementation.

Constant collaboration with all three levels of the public service is a vital aspect of success in product development, production and marketing. This is frequently the decisive factor in bringing goods and services to the international marketplace.

For all those reasons, we extend our special congratulations to the leadership team that established the Accelerator Centre 10 years ago.

In doing so, we thank the former president of the University of Waterloo, Prof. David Johnson for the inspirational role he played on that team. We rejoice with the Waterloo community that in his current position as governor general, he was an enthusiastic and nostalgic participant in the celebrations for the centre’s tenth anniversary.