It is widely recognized that great innovation happens when bright minds connect and share information in what are often referred to as collaborative collisions; intellectually diverse people often meeting through coincidence and sharing ideas, knowledge, connections and learning’s.  These types of collisions can have unexpected positive outcomes such as new innovative product ideas, research projects, accelerated learning, meaningful introductions and even new company creation.    If this is true, then for communities looking to build a healthy, vibrant startup ecosystem, high importance must be placed on encouraging these collisions to occur as often as possible.

One way to accomplish this is by increasing what is referred to as entrepreneurial density (ED).  ED in a startup community can be roughly calculated by (entrepreneurs + people working in startups / the communities population).  Using this formula then, one could assume the only way to increase ED is to attract more entrepreneurs to the region.  Increasing the number of entrepreneurs should be a focus, but if encouraging collaborative collisions is the ultimate goal, then a much more meaningful influence is where these startups and entrepreneurs are located in relation to each other geographically.  Regardless of the overall number, if entrepreneurs and startups are wide spread throughout the community the chance of collisions taking place is very limited.  On the other hand, the closer they are in proximity to each other the odds get increased dramatically.   There are other ways to help encourage ED and facilitate collisions like a healthy calendar of startup community events and activities.  Although events are a key ingredient for a healthy startup ecosystem, they often times don’t provide the necessary frequency or a quality sharing environment.

For companies that are located in the same neighbourhood, on the same street, or ideally in the same building – collisions would be a daily occurrence; opportunities to share, learn and grow are maximized.  This provides immeasurable value to early stage high growth startups looking for ways to accelerate time, learn more and do more faster.  Later stage companies also receive incredible value as these collisions provide tremendous insight and access to new innovative products, services and talent necessary to maintain competitive advantage and grow their market share.

One of the goals for the OCI is to bring together all the key ingredients of the startup ecosystem under one roof, maximize the ED and create an environment where daily collisions are the norm.  The OCI will provide tenants and community members’ unprecedented access to other entrepreneurs, business training and education services, flexible/scalable office space, government programs & services, mentorship and investment capital.

Of course none of this would be possible if the OCI were just another commercial office building where the only time you see other tenants is in the parking lot or on the elevator.  The OCI has been designed with unique elements that will encourage collaborative collisions such as public gathering spaces, an arts and cultural atrium, presentation theatre and business incubation space.  Other amenities include a coffee shop, restaurant, and roof top café, all designed with intention to maximize ED and create an environment that fosters innovation.

Entrepreneurial density, a key ingredient for a healthy, vibrant startup ecosystem and what we hope will grow exponentially with the completion of the OCI.