Innovation Insights

Leading Canada’s Future Without Borders
CABI’s 24th Conference showcases innovative cross-border opportunities.


Along with the City of Niagara Falls, Innovate Niagara proudly co-hosted the Canadian Acceleration and Business Incubation Association’s (CABI) 24th Conference from September 20th to 23rd in Niagara Falls. The theme of the conference was “Leading Canada’s Future without Borders,” and this truly showed commitment of the CABI organization to serve business incubators/accelerators from both private and public sectors across Canada and North America. This conference brought together over 150 different organizations representing business incubators and accelerators from Canada and the U.S. with representation from over 10 states.

CABI’s mission is to advance the success of business incubators and accelerators across Canada, while enhancing the knowledge and skills of incubator and accelerator professionals, and promoting a better understanding of business incubation/ acceleration’s role in economic development. This conference exemplified all that this organization is committed to. Keynote speakers such as Pat Whalen, COO of the Buffalo Biomedical Campus (BNMC) discussed the cross-border collaboration initiatives with the Niagara Region and beyond. Abdullah Snobar, executive director of the DMZ at Ryerson University—recently named the top University incubator in Canada and ranked 5th globally—discussed the challenges and lessons learned from their first five years of existence.

We were proud to spend a day touring delegates through Innovate Niagara’s network of incubator facilities, which in five short years has steadily grown to include the Generator at one interactive digital media facility, the Goodman School of Business' BioLinc, and most recently, ihub—the District School Board of Niagara and Brock University Educational Research and Innovation Hub. We have also developed strong service partnerships in the agricultural industry via Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, and in the advanced manufacturing sector with Niagara College and the Niagara Industrial Association—both key industries in Niagara.

We also had the pleasure of bringing this group over to our cross-border friends in Buffalo where we toured the Buffalo Biomedical campus. Innovate Niagara client Ben Sainsbury of Coqui 3D Inc., was recently accepted into the Startup NY program, and will open a U.S. branch to develop an augmented reality surgery-training system. The company will operate from the Thomas R. Beecher Jr. Innovation Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, where Sainsbury will benefit from research and development expertise and funding opportunities through the University of Buffalo, and the Jacobs Institute.

Collaboration and support between municipal, private, and public sectors has been key to advancing innovative entrepreneurship across industries. We are seeing that collaboration extend to include our innovative neighbours across the river, and beyond. Leading Canada’s Future without Borders was a fitting theme for our location, and the perfect opportunity to discover opportunities for continued collaboration.

Jeff Chesebrough is the CEO of Innovate Niagara. For more information, please call 905.685.3460, or visit