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Co-working space designed to bring startups together

Tech entrepreneurs are being coaxed from home to hive by the creators of Nanaimo’s newest co-working space, with aims of helping their businesses grow bigger, faster.

Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation and Innovation Island unveiled plans for Square One, a new 24-hour co-working space and technology incubator in downtown Nanaimo.

According to Paris Gaudet, executive director of Innovation Island, a lot of tech entrepreneurs are working at home in isolation when it’s critical for them to be able to get together, create new technologies and collaborate. Just by connecting with other companies, “it’s leveraging opportunity for success,” she said.

Square One, a 28-desk space at 38 Victoria Cres., will provide business people with a “funky” work environment where they can immerse themselves in a culture of start-ups with other companies, create new technologies and tap into coaching and mentoring resources.

The goal is to provide the resources necessary for entrepreneurs to be successful,  stay in Nanaimo, hire and grow their company, Gaudet said.

It will cost $350 a month to rent a desk in the new hive, which will include everything from space to store bikes, to wireless Internet, access to meeting rooms and a shared lounge and kitchen.

“It’s really exciting. The technology sector that we work with needs these kinds of spaces,” Gaudet said. “The value of incubators – it’s not only the bricks and mortar, the office space and the reduced rent – it’s the programs and services, it’s the expertise to help move in particular the tech sector forward.”

Square One is the third space opening this year to cater to innovators, following The Intersection – the Nanaimo Design Nerds’ co-working space for creative, social and tech entrepreneurs – and Makerspace, a community lab where people can share resources and create.

But Gaudet says their hybrid concept of providing a work space and an incubator to support business development is the first of its kind north of the Malahat.

She and Sasha Angus, chief executive officer for economic development, started talking about the concept 10 months ago, recognizing the demand for a workspace.

The two groups aim to recoup costs of operating the building, but the “real return” is going to be making sure businesses are spinning off into the world, where they are generating more employment and drawing more investment to the community, Angus said.

The space will officially open in July. For more information, see www.thinkbigatsquareone.com.

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