Apply to Imagination Catalyst Incubator Program

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 3:15pm to Saturday, June 2, 2018 - 3:15pm

It’s that time of year again! Imagination Catalyst is now accepting incubator applications from 2018 grads and 2015-2017 alumni who want to start a business after graduation and/or are running businesses.

All accepted applicants will be eligible to participate in the Cassels Brock pitch competition to win $5,000 for their venture!

Imagination Catalyst offers a business incubation program that includes: 

-          Mentorship and coaching from professional staff, business experts and seasoned entrepreneurs

-          Business development workshops and networking opportunities

-          Free co-working space and continued access to OCAD U maker labs and workshops

-           Exclusive funding opportunities, access to investors and investor networks

-          A community of diverse entrepreneurs and startups

What are we looking for?

-          Innovative business ideas

-          A viable business model

-          Scalability

-          Need for the services of a design-driven incubator

Students may apply to the Imagination Catalyst incubator here: Deadline to apply is midnight June 3rd.

We encourage students/alumni to meet with a business advisor prior to applying to the incubator. They can contact Ahmed ElBedawy at, or book an appointment directly via this link:


Venue & Address: 
OCAD U Imagination Catalyst, 8th Fl, 230 Richmond Street West

Showcase/pitch your start-up at InnovateTO150

Are you a student-led start-up or have an innovative idea? On Nov 3, showcase and pitch your idea at InnovateTO150 -- FREE + open to all students!

Jason Goodman, UX Instructor

Jason Goodman is a Sessional Instructor at OCAD University, having taught UX Design & Prototyping at the Masters Level, Toy Design at the Undergraduate level, as well as corporate training with both continuing education and OCAD Co. (the corprate/business training division). 

Apply to Imagination Catalyst: DEADLINE May 14th!

Congrats OCAD U Grads! Apply to Imagination Catalyst Incubator.
Thursday, May 11, 2017 - 12:15pm

If you dream about starting your own business  – consider applying to Imagination Catalyst! We offer a free, one-year business incubator program. Join a motivated group of fellow entrepreneurs who are creating, building, designing, making and inventing innovative products, services and companies.

What you need to apply:

  • A business idea that addresses an unmet need in a consumer or business market
  • A clearly identified target customer
  • An understanding of competitors and other external market forces

What we offer:

  • Customized learning opportunities
  • Experienced business advisors
  • Extensive mentor network
  • Connections to professional service providers including legal assistance
  • Access to government funding
  • Learning alongside other entrepreneurs tackling similar business development challenges

If you are interested in learning more, contact Kathryn Ellis,  to make an appointment with a business advisor

All recent OCAD U grads accepted to participate in the Imagination Catalyst incubator will be eligible to pitch for $5000 in startup funding! Apply before May 14th, 2017.

For more information, visit the Imagination Catalyst website!

Venue & Address: 
8th Fl, 230 Richmond Street West
41977-6000 ex. 4364

OCAD U's Imagination Catalyst Helps Design Start-ups Get Legal Advice

Image of CertlCelan & Cassels Brock re. Partnership with IC
Monday, November 14, 2016 - 3:45pm

Applied Arts Magazine profiles Imagination Catalyst partnership with corporate law firm, Cassels Brock -

OCAD University has been fostering business development skills through its Imagination Catalyst entrepreneurship hub since 2014. The one-year free program includes up to two-dozen start-ups at once to share studio space, equipment and mentorships.

To further its commitment to advancing the start-up scene in Toronto, Imagination Catalyst recently announced a partnership with corporate law firm Cassels Brock, which will provide advisory services to participants of the program. Read More -


Imagination Catalyst Fund announces investments in TranQool and Wishpad

Photo of TranQool, Wishpad and the IC Fund Committee
Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 5:15pm

Imagination Catalyst Fund directors John Albright and Jeannette Wiltse, both of Relay Ventures, celebrate with Michael Nurse, CEO of Wishpad, and Chakameh Shafii CEO, Saaed Zeinali VP Business Development, and Babak Shahabi VP Product, TranQool.

TranQool, a mental health platform, and Wishpad, a real estate media company, received investments of $40,000 each from the Imagination Catalyst Fund this month. Both companies will use these funds to gain traction with early users as they prepare for raising seed capital in 2017. 

“OCAD U is one of Canada’s best-kept secrets,” said Relay Ventures Founder and Managing Partner, John Albright when Relay Ventures $1million investment helped launch the Imagination Catalyst Fund in 2014. “We are excited to be tapping into the university’s design expertise through these investments.”

TranQool is an online platform designed to disrupt the mental health marketplace. The service matches users with the right therapists and facilitates secure video sessions from the comfort of home.

Wishpad is a big-data driven media platform that curates listings and other content for prospective real estate buyers based on their values, lifestyles and priorities.

Imagination Catalyst is OCAD University’s entrepreneurship and commercialization hub. The goal is to apply design thinking to make lives better, create richer cultural experiences and bring leading-edge innovations to market. The Imagination Catalyst Fund offers seed funding for early stage, pre-revenue technology companies and is exclusively for companies participating in the OCAD U business incubator.  

For more information about companies participating in the Imagination Catalyst incubator, please contact Katherine Roos, Executive Director.

Startup Fashion Week: The Future of Fashion Runway Show & Closing Party

Group of male and female models with wearable technology
Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 11:00pm to Friday, October 10, 2014 - 3:30am


Startup Fashion Week is all about Fashion, Technology and Business.  Join us at our Future of Fashion Runway Showcase & Closing Party. This event will support our charity partner Windfall Basics, who have recently launched their campaign for WearWhite4Women. The first 50 guests to bring & donate new health care produsts upon arrival to raise awareness for their campaign will get a swag bag!  Note that there is ample FREE PARKING behind the venue in a parking lot!

For more info on our events happening on Oct. 7 & 8 please

Media or Fashion Blogger? Contact:

Event Schedule: 

  • 6:00 - 7:00 VIP Experience only
  • 7:00 - 8:00 - Registration / Cocktails Sponsored by HPNOTIQ
  • 8:10 - 8:45 - Runway Showcase
  • 8:45 - 12am - Closing Party / Seminar Series 


About the Event:

Join us to celebrate Startup / Emerging Designers as they showcase their collections on the Runway.  This is not just any ordinary showcase - we will also feature aspects of technology into the Runway experience.  Participants are from across Ontario and the US. 

After the Runway show we will celebrate the 3 Day Launch of Startup Fashion Week with our Closing After Party, which will include the following:

  • Free makeup touch ups by Motives Cosmetics & Free Business Headshots taken by a Professional Photographer
  • Vendor Room Showcasing various local Innovative Fashion Brands
  • Art Installations
  • PhotoBoothTO - take fun and silly photos with other guests
  • Seminar Series - we will feature 6 different 30 Minute Seminars presented by: Winfall Basics, Product Magazine, Motives Cosmetics, Novella Magazine, Toronto Fashion Academy and Kim Du Salon


Event Official Hashtag: #StartupFW

Venue & Address: 
HangLoose Media Studios 28 Logan Ave  Toronto, ON  M4M 2M8

StartUp School

Orange logo with black and white text
Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 10:30pm to Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 1:30am


Ryerson University is Canada’s leader in entrepreneurship education. The Ryerson Entrepreneur Institute (REI) in partnership with the Ted Rogers School of Management, is excited to launch Startup School, Ryerson’s first just in time, modular learning series to support rising startups and Zone learning.

Startup School is practical education to complete the entrepreneur’s toolkit. Sessions are delivered by top industry experts and seasoned entrepreneurs. Additional content and assurances of learning are captured on the REI’s online learning platform.

Each semester, students and founders alike can take advantage of the 13 different, free modules that encompass cornerstone topics curated to accelerate startup’s growth.

To discover more or read full bios of our guest speakers, visit us online.

Venue & Address: 
Ryerson University Digital Media Zone and Ted Rogers School of Management


Mike Lovas and Rami Alhamad of PUSH Design Solutions. Image by JOLT.

Mike Lovas, an entrepreneurial fourth-year Industrial Design student at OCAD U is now the Chief Design Officer at PUSH Design Solutions, a startup that he co-founded thanks to seed capital and support from both the JOLT technology accelerator and OCAD U’s Imagination Catalyst.

Lovas (whom you may also recognize as a research assistant in the Mobile Experience Lab and a research coordinator in the Sustainability Office), teamed up with two University of Waterloo mechatronics engineer graduates, Rami Alhamad and Suresh Joshi, last year to work on an idea.

They made rapid progress, and now PUSH, in its current iteration, is an app-enabled fitness device for analyzing, managing and tracking weight training and workout performance. It can attach to an athlete’s wrist or common weight training equipment, and it incorporates smart monitoring and intelligent design so anyone, from a pro athlete to a casual fitness lover can use it.

JOLT, a technology accelerator dedicated to high-growth web and mobile companies, invested $30,000 in seed capital for Lovas’s company, in exchange for six per cent equity. The JOLT program also provides product development support, workshops, business mentorship and workspace in Toronto’s bustling MaRS Commons, home to many other digital entrepreneurs and research initiatives.

OCAD U’s Imagination Catalyst, which helps students take ideas out of the classroom and into the market, provided another infusion of seed capital, along with outreach support, and has also offered workspace.

Lovas and the PUSH team took their app to Launch Festival in San Francisco in March where they met with Silicon Valley-based venture capital firms. They’re now working on a beta version for user testing with weight trainers and varsity teams at the University of Toronto.

“This is an exciting, fast moving thing,” says Lovas. “It’s ambitious because we’re combining product design with hardware, mobile technology, iOS development and a web portal with deep analytics, so there are a lot of moving parts. We’re just going to keep moving ahead.”


OCAD University partners with Guardly to put code blue emergency phones directly into students’ pockets

Friday, February 22, 2013 - 5:00am

Guardly Safe Campus Program infrastructure developed
within OCAD U's own mobile incubator, MEIC

(Toronto—February 22, 2012) OCAD University has teamed up with mobile start-up Guardly to launch a revolutionary new service aimed to improve the safety of students, faculty and staff both on and off campus.

The Guardly Safe Campus Program transforms personal smartphones into code blue emergency phones, the type of emergency consoles typically found installed on campuses across the country. Instead of needing to find one of these devices to signal distress, students can now activate a personal safety network, including campus security, simply by activating the Guardly application on their personal phones. 

During an active emergency incident on campus, Guardly uses a combination of GPS, WiFi and cell tower triangulation to track location and provides this information to a campus security dispatcher. For privacy purposes, location tracking is only enabled once a student triggers an alert. A caller's extended safety network can provide input to campus security to aid in response efforts.

Guardly Safe Campus also makes it easier for those with physical disabilities or sensory impairments to reach help. Since Guardly Safe Campus is built upon the Guardly infrastructure, if students or staff members have an emergency off-campus, the Guardly mobile application can still be used to notify up to 15 emergency contacts as well as 9-1-1 services, further extending the value of the service to OCAD U community members.

"Guardly's Safe Campus Program has been designed in tandem with campus security administrators and unlocks the capabilities for security managers to immediately identify callers, track location in real-time and communicate with emergency callers by voice or instant messaging," said Josh Sookman, CEO, Guardly Corp.

The subscription-based Guardly mobile personal safety system has been available to individuals since April 2011. A graduate of OCAD U's Mobile Experience Innovation Centre (MEIC) incubator program, Guardly developed its core infrastructure and its first mobile application for iPhone during its six month residency. It was also during this key period that Guardly, through discussions with key personnel at OCAD U's campus security and security teams at other universities, learned about how the technology could help higher educational institutions keep campuses safe. Guardly is currently available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Phone 7 devices.

"The Guardly Safe Campus Program will undoubtedly revolutionize security services in higher education environments," said OCAD University President, Dr. Sara Diamond. "Guardly is a powerful communications tool for campus security teams, giving them the critical information they need to effectively respond to emergency incidents ever more quickly. We're even more proud that the infrastructure for the service was developed within OCAD U's mobile incubator at the Mobile Experience Innovation Centre. This is one of many research commercialization successes coming through OCAD U's research and innovation initiatives."

OCAD U is currently undergoing a rigorous testing period with a plan to roll out the app to the entire OCAD U community by September.

OCAD University (OCAD U): 135 Years of Imagination
OCAD University ( is Canada’s “University of the Imagination.” The university, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians. 

Guardly Corp.
Guardly ( is a platform for emergency communication that facilitates rapid social, mobile and location-aware responses to calls for assistance. Smartphone users who find themselves in an emergency situation can alert, connect and collaborate with local authorities, campus security as well as their own safety groups in a single tap. Guardly is based in Toronto and raised venture funding from Golden Venture Partners, Extreme Venture Partners and angel investors. Guardly is committed to dramatically decreasing the amount of time it takes responders to arrive at an emergency.

- 30 -

Download this release as a PDF document.

For more information contact:

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416-977-6000 Ext. 327 (mobile Ext. 1327)