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Navigate Set To Open In Sydney

After months of work, Sydney is finally getting its own incubator for tech startups.

Launched by startup enthusiasts Ardelle Reynolds and Lindsay Uhma, the Navigate Startup House is due to open Oct. 9 in downtown Sydney. The space will feature offices for four growing startups, and a common work area in which as many as 20 teams at the idea or early stages can work.

“People who are interested in starting a startup but are at an earlier phase will be able to become members of our network,” said Reynolds in an interview.

“It means you can have access to our events, mentors and other resources. The idea is to build the startup community.”

One comment frequently heard is that the city needs a space to give a base to the increasingly active group of startups in the former steel town.

The city has witnessed strong company growth in the past two years, due in part to Innovacorp’s Spark Cape Breton competition and the UIT entrepreneurship program at Cape Breton University. But the community needed a space where people can meet, swap ideas and learn from one another.

Until recently, the city’s incubation space has been in the law offices of Sampson McDougall. Reynolds said the firm will continue to be involved in providing advice to the young companies.

Now being renovated, Navigate will be in the New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation at 37 Nepean St. in Sydney, the same building as the UIT program.

So far, the tenants named for the incubator are three previous winners of the Spark competition: Layers Technology, an image creation and editing application that allows users to remix and share images; Phased.io, an application for companies that shares work status updates with co-workers; and PizzaGo, a mobile app for pizzerias.

The fourth tenant will be named in a few weeks.

“While we are partnering closely with UIT to provide the services that alumni need to advance their startups, application is open to any startup, and no priority will be given to UIT alumni,” said Reynolds.

The Navigate team will also work with other partners throughout the region, including the Volta startup house in Halifax, Mentor Connect, Innovacorp and the Propel ICT tech accelerator.

“We’re planning to take our first PropelICT cohort early in the new year,” she said.

“We’re also launching a Ladies Learning Code branch in Sydney on Oct. 24, and we’ll be running all LLC programming through Navigate.”

Reynolds said the startup house plans to grow to offer space to more companies and develop a community of 75 to 100 members. It hopes to emulate the experience of Volta, which recently doubled its capacity.

“We’re starting with four (tenants) and we will certainly grow,” she said.

“We do have a longer-term plan that will involve more space. And we feel that this is a pretty reasonable starting point.”