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Cowork Penticton goes hi-tech with Accelerate Okanagan
Western News Staff
Once again, Accelerate Okanagan has found a new home, joining forces with Cowork Penticton as the location to deliver its programming for up and coming technology entrepreneurs.
The Penticton component of AO got started in 2006 as the Okanagan Research and Innovation Centre, working out of offices at the White Lake Observatory. As ORIC grew, it joined forces with groups on a similar mission, eventually forming part of Accelerate Okanagan, based out of Kelowna.
It has also occupied several locations, including most recently, a long-planned suite in the Centre of Excellence at Okanagan College, where a technology incubator was part of the original concept for the new building, which began construction in 2009. AO opened its facility there spring 2012.
“They were sitting in more of a tenant relationship, rather than a working partnership with the college,” said Jennifer Vincent, co-founder of Cowork. “AO is mandated to provide programming, rather than rent space to people. They were kind of in a situation where they were renting space, not filling it, losing money, not working very well. So they looked to move back to a more lean approach to things.”
Vincent describes the inclusion of AO as a big coup for Cowork, and something she and Andrew Greer, AO’s Penticton manager, had been talking about for some time. Both organizations, she said, share similar visions on how to work and support independent business, whether it is startup or not.
“We deal with the renting of the space, you guys deal with the delivery of the programs and everybody wins,” said Vincent. “So the events that they hold socially and educationally and business development wise will be hosted out of Cowork where possible.”
The AO clients will have full access to meeting rooms, drop in desks and events spaces in the Cowork building. Vincent expects that AO will be hosting 3-4 different kind of events here each month. Those can range from educational events for the eight participants in the Venture Acceleration program, meetings with experts and mentors, to the group’s monthly mixer, Tech Talk, a wide-open meeting for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs from all tech sectors.
Vincent said AO is a perfect fit for the centre, which is approaching its first birthday in May.
“Our vision of this as a hub where people use it on an as needed basis is really being fulfilled by this,” said Vincent. “The value-add of including Accelerate Okanagan in our community is huge. Both communities benefit from having increased opportunities to share knowledge and ideas and AO’s clients will have more opportunities to engage with the networking benefits of coworking. Having AO join up will only help us in our mission to build a hub of entrepreneurial activity in Penticton.”
With its first birthday a few months away, Vincent said Cowork has proven itself to be a successful venture, filling a niche for entrepreneurs and others in the community that need office space on a part time basis.
“I would say that November was when things really started to tick over,” she said. “Our vision for seeing synergy amongst our members has started to happen. There is some collaboration starting to happen, some sharing of skills and outsourcing happening amongst the members,” she said. “We are over half capacity in terms of members already, we are probably at about 60 per cent.”