College opens new project space in Innovation Alley

Red River College’s ACE Project Space and North Forge Technology Exchange today celebrated the grand opening of their new Innovation Alley locations, by officially launching several new initiatives aimed at helping startup businesses innovate and grow.

In RRC’s ACE Project Space — part of the College’s thriving Exchange District Campus — Business Information Technology and Business Technology Management students work with entrepreneurs-in-residence on new technologies, product development, and pushing innovation to the edge.

The new space has allowed the program to grow rapidly and more than double its partnerships — to 16 successful projects to date. As well, the space allows students to work closely with non-profit organizations to provide IT solutions for them and the community.

“This is about students working hand-in-hand with private industry on real-world projects in real time,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “It provides our students with leading-edge, hands-on training and experience, while providing startups with much-needed technical support. This kind of partnership is essential to business growth and job creation in our province.”

Vogt says RRC is thrilled to partner with North Forge Technology Exchange and, together, anchor Winnipeg’s growing Innovation Alley.

“We are constantly working to support innovation on the ground floor and create critical mass for Manitoba’s startup community,” says North Forge President Jeff Ryzner. “The development of our new building at 321 McDermot advances our goals and provides entrepreneurs with a place to work together. It’s about fostering innovation, creating jobs and driving economic growth.”

At today’s announcement, North Forge unveiled two new resources for business: the UX Lab and the Advanced ICT Lab. The UX Lab is a place for innovators to develop the overall experience for their products' users; it provides assistance with UX research and strategy, including user and usability testing, user and stakeholder interviews and surveys, and user journey mapping and personas.

The Advanced ICT Lab provides tools for companies to develop technology for commercialization. Possibilities include 360-degree marketing videos and photos, podcasts, drone photography and videography, room-scale VR, Bitcoin-related applications, video game development and support for legacy VR applications.

The ACE Project Space is not a formal incubator, but an opportunity for entrepreneurs-in-residence to propose projects that fit with RRC’s curriculum and challenge students' capabilities and imaginations in their field of study. In return, entrepreneurs learn about market identification, project management, agile development and how to become a business owner.

“This is really a win-win situation where the students work on our projects and we as entrepreneurs get to see the impact on our organization,” says Sue Leclair, of wedding planning business Peguin + Stone. “Being part of this allowed us to try new approaches and build our business in a team environment. I am proud to have been able to be a part of it.”