Genesis, the granddaddy of startup incubators in the Atlantic region, has rebranded, moved, and is ready to accept more companies in its new St. John’s headquarters.
Known as the Genesis Centre for the past 21 years, the organization has nurtured dozens of companies from its base in the Bruneau Centre on the main campus of Memorial University. Now it is known just as Genesis and the incubation facility has relocated to the Emera Innovation Exchange on the side of Signal Hill.
Memorial purchased the former Battery Hotel site four years ago with the goal of turning it into an innovation centre, which would include Genesis.
The floor size in the new facility is about the same as the former headquarters, Genesis CEO Michelle Simms said in an interview. But the group now has an open floor plan — not to mention panoramic views of the mouth of St. John’s harbour — which means it will be able to house more tenant companies.
And being closer to downtown St. John’s will improve operations as well.
“It will be amazing for Genesis the entity and it will be even better for the client companies,” said Simms, who took over the CEO role two years ago. “Being connected more closely to the downtown means they can do business easier.”
Simms noted the companies’ banks, lawyers, accountants, and some customers are in the downtown, so the companies will save time in the new location. She added that the new Genesis facility will benefit the community overall, as its proximity to the downtown will make it easier for other founders and entrepreneurs to attend events and mix with the Genesis companies.
Genesis has been providing office space and programs for startups for years, and now has 15 tenant companies in the complex. Its selection committee will meet early next month to review the application by five companies, which would boost the number to 20.
With the move to Signal Hill out of the way, the Genesis team is now focused on growing in the next few years. It has set a goal of taking on 45 new companies in that time, which means an aggressive intake of 15 a year.
Before it hits that point, the group will need more space, so Simms is already planning to grow further and is searching for more space.
Simms is also looking beyond St. John’s and hopes in a few years to extend Genesis’ work to the MUN Grenfell campus on Newfoundland’s west coast and then into Labrador.
She has removed one major task from her to do list now that she has completed the refurbishment, a move that was several years in the planning.
“We can get down to business again now fully,” said Simms. “In the last year in particular, any big move like this is going to be a distraction because you do have to take time to pick out furniture and that sort of thing. Now, we can focus on our core business of helping our companies and helping to build the community in Newfoundland and Labrador.”