Imagination Catalyst FAQ
I’m an artist. How can I develop my business skills?
OCAD University offers professional practice training for all fourth-year degree students.
If you are interested in further business training, consider the Minor in Entrepreneurship & Social Innovation.
Additional learning opportunities for those interested in freelance work are available through the Career Development office. The Office of Continuing Studies also delivers numerous business courses for creative professionals.
I’m a faculty member at OCAD U. Can I apply to the incubator?
All members of the OCAD U community are welcome to discuss their business ideas, opportunities or challenges with an Imagination Catalyst business advisor.
Participating in the incubator program may not be practical for individuals who are engaged full time in teaching and research. However, if you are interested in commercializing research you have conducted at OCAD U, please reach out to the Research Office for assistance. We are here to help.
I’m a faculty researcher. How do I protect my intellectual property?
If you have questions about protecting the intellectual property associated with your research, please contact the OCAD U Research Office. An Imagination Catalyst business advisor can assist if you wish to discuss commercial applications for your research or the business development process.
Read about OCAD U’s intellectual property policy.
I’m a current OCAD U student. Can I join the Imagination Catalyst business incubator?
Most entrepreneurs that participate in the incubator program commit to working on their ventures full time. Given the workload, it is not recommended that full-time students apply to the incubator program until after they graduate.
While you are a student, you may consider taking business courses associated with the Minor in Entrepreneurship & Social Innovation or join The Grind, OCAD U’s student entrepreneurship club. We also recommend that you speak with an advisor in the Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers.
If you are interested in joining the incubator after graduation, we encourage you to attend an incubator information session and to meet with an Imagination Catalyst business advisor before applying.
How do you choose Imagination Catalyst business incubator companies?
Everything you need to know is in our selection criteria.
What kinds of companies are best suited to the Imagination Catalyst business incubator?
The Imagination Catalyst incubator is best suited to design-driven, technology-enabled businesses and social enterprises with scalable business models. Entrepreneurs requiring access to shared equipment and spaces and/or access to a talent pool with deep expertise in the design or art world are an excellent fit for the Imagination Catalyst incubator.
The incubator is not a good fit for sole proprietorships, service businesses or for part-time businesses. Incubator programming is geared to supporting ventures with growth potential.
I want to grow my freelancing business. Is the incubator a good fit for me?
That depends on your goals. Please book a meeting with an Imagination Catalyst business advisor to discuss your business and how you’d like to grow it.
What’s the cost to participate in the Imagination Catalyst business incubator?
There’s no cost. The Imagination Catalyst business incubator is a free 12-month program. However, you must be able to support yourself financially until your company generates income or attracts financing.
Do I need a business plan to apply to the Imagination Catalyst business incubator?
No; however, many applicants do have plans. At minimum, we encourage you to create a Business Model Canvas and to begin validating your early business model assumptions prior to applying to the incubator.
If you are unsure of where to start, please book a meeting with an Imagination Catalyst business advisor to discuss your idea.
Will Imagination Catalyst staff write a business plan for me?
No; however, we will give you training, advice and tools that will help you to write a strong plan.
Does my company need to be up and running before I apply to the Imagination Catalyst business incubator?
No. We expect most participants to be at the idea or prototyping stage.
I have applied to other business incubators/accelerators. Should I apply to the Imagination Catalyst business incubator too?
Yes. If you believe we can help, you should apply. Our process is designed to accept and support companies that would benefit from our unique program and expertise.
What if my company outgrows the Imagination Catalyst business incubator before 12 months?
That would be great! Our goal is to help you launch your business as swiftly as possible. We can refer you to other services in the entrepreneurial ecosystem to take your business to the next level.
Where is the Imagination Catalyst business incubator located?
Our 3,000 ft2 co-working space is at 230 Richmond St. W., Toronto. That’s at the south end of OCAD U’s downtown campus.
I have a team working on a venture idea. Can we all be accepted into the Imagination Catalyst business incubator?
Yes. We welcome individuals and teams.
Who can I contact with a question about my application to the Imagination Catalyst business incubator?
We’re glad to help you create a strong application. Please contact an Imagination Catalyst business advisor.
I am not in Toronto. Can I participate in the Imagination Catalyst business incubator virtually?
Virtual participation is not currently available. And, by participating on site, you will benefit enormously from interacting with other entrepreneurs and our supportive Imagination Catalyst staff.
How many jobs have been created through the Imagination Catalyst business incubator?
Since 2010, Imagination Catalyst business incubator companies have created more than 150 new jobs.
How much funding have Imagination Catalyst business incubator companies generated?
In 2016, entrepreneurs participating in the incubator will have raised over $3,000,000 in follow-on funding for their ventures.