Entrepreneurs get Major Boost in Cobourg

The status of the new Venture 13 project was presented to Cobourg Council last night.  Driven primarily by Northumberland Community Futures Development (NCFDC), it will provide support and facilities for new businesses needing space for offices and to build prototypes, to hold workshops, and learn from others.  The existing building 13 in Northam Industrial Park will be re-furbished to provide offices, a laboratory, workshops, a lecture hall and meeting rooms.  In addition to interim space for startups, it will house permanent staff for NCFDC, Cobourg’s Economic Development Department (EcDev) and the Northumberland Manufacturers Association (NMA) as well as providing facilities for Fleming College and Maker Lab.  All this will be on the ground floor with the second floor being used for the fast growing Police Service Business currently housed at the police station.  Grand opening date is 27 May 2018.

The Building

Building 13 is in Northam Industrial park and faces onto D’Arcy Street at #739.  It was originally built as the headquarters of the Land Army Depot  and the most recent tenant was Transcom, a call centre, but has been virtually vacant since 2011. (See photo below).  It was partially occupied by Cycle Transitions and a number of other groups but they were evicted at the end of August 2017 to make way for Venture 13 [More on that here].  The Town is currently losing $70K per year on the building because of maintenance costs but since the new tenants will pay rent, implementation of Venture 13 will mean revenue of $90K per year.  That increment ($160K/year) easily pays for the Town’s investment.

The Cost

There will be two phases – Phase 1 will be the ground floor and Phase 2 will be completion of the space for the Police Services Business on the second floor plus installation of an elevator.  Phase 2 will cost $716K and will be funded by the Police Services Business.  Although no date has been set for that, it will likely be soon after the completion of Phase 1.

Total cost for Phase 1 is $1,670,000 of which $250,000 is for outfitting costs.  [There is more detail on cost estimates in the download of Stephen Peacock’s report issued in May – go here.]

Funding for Phase 1

Police Services Board (2nd floor) $650,000
Police Services Board (2nd floor heat) $90,000
NCFDC – FedDev Ontario (CEDP) $400,000
Town of Cobourg $250,000
Donation (anonymous) $50,000
Sponsorships (Committed – primarily Fleming College’s $100K) $130,000
Sponsorships (Anticipated) $100,000
Total $1,670,000

Although the Federal Government provided $400K, there was no money from the Provincial Government.  The County are also not contributing.

The Police Services board generates a good income – the anticipated revenue for 2017 is $3 million.  Profit from this will be used to pay for the contribution from the Police Services Board.  Police Chief Kai Liu said that because of the growing use of technology in their business, they are happy to be located close to nearby technology assistance. All the tenants will pay rent on a cost-recovery basis (that is, an attractively low rate).

Why Fleming College?

Tony Tilly, President of Fleming College said that their mandate is to support: Education, Employers and Community Development.  Therefore they want to contribute to this project.  They will use the new facility to hold courses, seminars and lectures there.  Note that other community groups are also welcome so it is expected that the Venture 13 facility would  host events and workshops by Schools, the Cobourg library and other community groups.

Building layout

The building layout was designed by Architect Reno Piccini.  The building is slightly more than 30,000 sq. ft. across the two floors.  The ground floor will have four distinct areas (see photo below):

  1. Community Anchor organizations  – Northumberland Community Futures Development (NCFDC), Northumberland Manufacturers Association (NMA), Fleming College, Cobourg EcDev
  2. Innovation Commons – 80 seat hall, 2 seminar breakout rooms with searing up to 36, Flex Office space, Café (lunch area), Entrance Lounge and Project Rooms.  This area would have secure 24/7 access and provide Public WiFi connected by fibre to the internet.  This area already has “198 total activity days booked”.
  3. Maker Lab – heavy prototyping and engineering, custom manufacturing, advanced innovation capital equipment (e.g. 3D printing and robotics). This will be a microfactory for hardware startups. Managed by Northumberland Makers who are a non-profit “community organization teaching DIY skills and project-based applied and experiential learning”.
  4. Venture Zone – 9 private offices, 30 hot seats, 12 drop-in bar spots, phone booths and meeting collaboration space

There is a basement but it will be left unfinished – it could be used for future expansion.

The Logo

The new logo (Photo below), designed by Cobourg’s Pixelnomial Studios Inc., was also announced.  The unique logo embodies innovation, connectivity and co-working dynamics that exemplify the brand identity the innovation centre is set to achieve. The ‘red’ colour reflects a ‘Made in Canada’ approach and is the same red used in the Canadian Flag.


The project was originally publicly announced in May, 2017 and the move in date was then expected to be the end of 2017.

The current schedule is:

  • The tender for work was released October 31, 2017 with a close date of November 27.  It is expected to come to council for approval of the award on December 3, 2017.
  • Completion of site retrofit and construction is anticipated for March 2018.  Building usage will start then.
  • A Grand Opening and Innovation Summit is scheduled for 17 May 2018.
  • The two-year targeted growth is 73 jobs and 16 new business start-ups.

Since the program is led by the already successful and dynamic Wendy Curtis of the NCFDC, and because some aspects are already “happening”, this project should be a major success and should be a boost to high-tech business in Cobourg and Northumberland.

Below are some relevant images – be sure to click one to enlarge and watch as a slide show.


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6 years ago

Is this an overlap with the County’s initiative? https://www.becn.ca/
Do we really need to have two groups doing the same thing?
Too bad they couldn’t have joined forces, could’ve been a savings of money and energy.
Last May it was reported here that the County would be a tenant of Venture 13 but no mention of them now.

6 years ago

Let’s hope “13” is the new Lucky Number for Cobourg.

6 years ago

Cobourg is growing and this is a fantastic project!

6 years ago

I thought the County was going to be a tenant, no?
And why aren’t the Province and the County contributing?

Deborah OConnor
6 years ago

Looking at this article it seems the building is serving various municipal projects. It appears the entrepreneurs they are courting aren’t in place yet. Let’s hope they flock to the facility or it’s just another exercise in municipal empire building and we have quite enough of that already.

John Draper
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
6 years ago

There are seven clients listed as “Startup Clients” – sorry I didn’t list them above. They are: QOINTS, Ambience Data, U-Dimensions, Marion Surgical, Pinpress, Opifex Solutions and ILIFT.

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
6 years ago

I wish them the best but will take a wait and see attitude to the empire building. I fear you may be right.