LE CAMP: Where economic development and entrepreneurship go hand in hand
LE CAMP, and incubator-accelerator based in Quebec City, is an initiative of economic development agency Québec International that offers support and guidance to tech companies, as well as a site for discussions and inspiration that is open to the entrepreneurial community.
First conceived as a support service for people starting a business, LE CAMP soon recognized a need to establish a physical space that would enhance its counselling services on a day-to-day basis by hosting an incubation program. The goal for the site was both to generate activity and to create a hub for Quebec City’s entrepreneurial community.
LE CAMP opened its doors in March of 2015 in a small space for an initial trial year, following the usual advice to test the market to better understand your customers’ needs. After the pilot year ended, the organization moved camp to its current location on Charest Boulevard.
A space for collaboration
The project, whose main goal was to encourage people to consider Quebec City as a place to launch their business, met with immediate acceptance because it fulfilled an existing demand. As senior director Sébastien Tanguay explains, “We attempted to create a unifying project that was within the scope of a kind of continuum of service, something that complemented what was already in existence.”
LE CAMP houses three services. First, the offices are the physical location for the tech companies selected for incubation for a period of 12 months. This allows young companies to have a home base in order to get off the ground, but it especially helps them take advantage of LE CAMP’s counselling services, offered by an internal team and a network of mentors and experts that include specialists in law, accounting, communications and other sectors. An average of 10 to 15 companies are incubated at any one time.
The second service is support and acceleration. It’s provided to interested companies and offers a variety of programs, depending on a company’s stage of growth, ranging from business concept validation to growth stimulation.
LE CAMP’s final mission is to drive Quebec City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. This component of the organization’s activities includes an array of training programs, information-sharing events, hackathons and a lot more. As Tanguay explains, the goal of these events, sometimes organized with the help of various partners, is to “unite various entities in Quebec City’s entrepreneurial milieu, always with the goal of fostering communication between entrepreneurs.”
A breath of fresh air
“We like to say that the entrepreneurial ecosystem lies at the heart of innovation,” adds Tanguay. “And a large part of innovation comes from young companies. Even big companies watch what the newer firms are doing. It’s really dynamic. And right now we can see this energy starting up in Quebec City.”
LE CAMP’s activities benefit the city’s entrepreneurs, but also attract businesses from beyond our borders. Tanguay points out that no less than nine foreign firms have gone through LE CAMP so far in order to launch their projects and take advantage of the “soft landing” provided by the incubator. These companies have paved the way for others and offer, for example, an additional attractiveness factor to the region, which in turn can benefit from the energy and creativity generated by the presence of these companies.
A window on the world
LE CAMP’s programs, which involve some well-known partners, also link young entrepreneurs with these partners’ networks, allowing them to take advantage of cross-Canada and international connections. LE CAMP also maintains agreements with various accelerators in the U.S. and France.
“We believe that entrepreneurs who accept to be challenged, guided and advised have a greater chance of achieving success than those who try to manage on their own,” notes Tanguay.
“Our role is to get them to question themselves, to network amongst themselves and to seek out answers. As I like to say over and over, ‘We don’t have any answers, but we do have some really good questions.’”
LE CAMP IN NUMBERS
Close to 50 companies incubated
140 companies have gone through one of its programs
180 events have been hosted in the last year
9 foreign companies have gone through LE CAMP to launch their businesses in Quebec City
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Visit the LE CAMP website