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Oxford Properties Aiming to Cultivate New Toronto Innovation District
Renovations are already underway at 325 Front Street West. This five-story building, which previously functioned as an RBC data centre, is the hub from which will spawn a long-term redevelopment plan for Front Street.

Oxford Properties Group is working in conjunction with OneEleven, a technology startup accelerator, to transform Front Street into Toronto’s newest innovation cluster. The new district will be known as Union Park.

Scheduled to reopen in May, the building at 325 Front Street West will eventually provide space for “hundreds of high-growth startups and development labs for blue-chip companies.” According to Oxford Properties executive vice-president Michael Turner, “It’s a catalyst for the innovation community. We think we can bring it all together to do something that is totally unique to this city.”

Progress To-Date

The redevelopment plan has already paid off for OneEleven. Since the company moved into the building in January, it has already been able to significantly expand its operations. Previously, the accelerator accommodated 14 companies at a time. It has now increased that number to 26 companies, and company executives expect that number to reach 50 by later this year.

OneEleven “provides support services and office space to post-seed-level startups, or those that have already raised between $1-million and $5-million in funding.” Currently, startups in the OneEleven accelerator pay membership fees, as opposed to turning over equity stakes.

These startups typically have less than 40 employees and will remain with the accelerator anywhere between 18 and 24 months. Some current companies include a corporate benefits facilitator called Humi, and sales software provider called Nudge.

On the Horizon

Over the course of the next calendar year, OneEleven aims to add one net new company every month. By clustering these companies together at a singular hub, the goal is to take Toronto’s growing startup scene to the next level by making it easy for developing startups to share information and resources, including customer leads and talent.

The demand for tech talent is incredibly high at present, but with so many startups trying to enter the market, only so many can succeed. For some workers, this uncertain level of job security is unnerving. However, if you’re working at a tech hub and your company goes out of business, you have the ability to walk across the hall, or comb through the entire building, to find a new job.

“We are completely amazed at how many incredibly companies are out there that fit our model and our criteria,” said Bilal Khan, OneEleven’s managing director. He hopes that offering a centralized location for these startups also attracts out-of-town investors interested in meeting with multiple startups when they come to town, rather than one or two.

Oxford Properties Group currently owns 13 acres of property along the south side of Front Street. Their long-term vision is to expand the Union Park tech hub to the east towards Simcoe Street. The company is already in talks with the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which is located in the center of the proposed development corridor, about how they can also benefit from the plan.


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Posted by: DSR
Monday, May 1, 2017
Tag: Business Start Ups
Business Start Ups
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