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Dawson Norrish (centre), CEO & Founder of Arctic Shelf and winner of "best startup" at Co.Labs’ Co.mmunity night in 2019, celebrates with judges Alix Hayden, Associate Director of USask Research Excellence and Innovation and Mark Thompson, Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Development & Strategy Officer at Nutrien. Co.Labs and USask have signed a new MOU to collaborate on highlighting innovation in the province. (Photo: Submitted)

USask and Co.Labs join forces to foster tech innovation in Saskatchewan

The University of Saskatchewan (USask) and Saskatchewan Collaborates Inc. (Co.Labs), the Saskatoon-based tech incubator, have signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at creating a pipeline of innovative ideas, services, and talent.

USask has been a key sponsor of Co.Labs since the incubator’s inception in 2018. Under the agreement, the university will provide an annual investment of $60,000 for three years. This is an increase from the current support of $30,000 per year in support of Co.Launch—a 12-week program in which founders learn startup fundamentals and compete for funding and a full-time spot at Co.Labs.  

The new MOU was announced by USask President Peter Stoicheff at the virtual Co.Launch pitch event held Thursday. 

“Our relationship with Co.Labs exemplifies the vision outlined in our University Plan 2025, and is an excellent example of the meaningful impact we have within our community and how we are prepared to be the university the world needs,” said Stoicheff. “We both have a common mission to generate ideas, and support them to find success out in the world, and we are proud to partner with Co.Labs on this important work.” 

The MOU outlines a commitment for the two organizations to collaborate on program offerings, and allows USask to tap into Co.Labs’ expertise in entrepreneurship. The new funding will support two Co.Launch competitions as well as initiatives for Co.Learn—interactive summits held twice a year for tech employees and prospective startup founders. The agreement extends to Dec. 31, 2024. 

“The University of Saskatchewan has played a key role in laying the foundation for a flourishing technology ecosystem in the province,” said Matt Stefan, Co.Labs’ executive director. “Through this partnership, we're working together to develop the future of Saskatchewan's innovation economy.” 

USask joins Co.Labs other key program supporters in Innovation Saskatchewan, Western Economic Diversification Canada and Innovation Place.

Co.Labs is a non-profit organization helping grow Saskatchewan tech ecosystem. It offers support for founders and teams to navigate the path from idea to $1M in annual revenue. Since launching in 2018, Co.Labs has supported more than 130 startups who have together generated over $20M in revenues, raised $11.5 in private investment, and created more than 350 jobs in Saskatchewan’s technology sector. For more information on Co.Labs initiatives, visit the website. 

 

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