The Next Big i.d.e.a.

Boundless Accelerator Building on Success with Second Cohort of i.d.e.a. Fund™

By: Jen Brignall-Strong

How do you make a good idea even better? It’s all about communication and collaboration.

While i.d.e.a. Fund was initially established to support a more sustainable economy and foster equality, it has since evolved into an award-winning program that has significantly contributed to local economies across southern Ontario, infusing over $7.25 million in investments since its inception.

According to Boundless Accelerator’s Jordann Hunsperger, the success of the second cohort is due to the support of funders and a team of program administrators working together to provide the most value to participants.

“It’s been a privilege to work with all the participating Regional Innovation Centres again,” she shares. “We’ve really learned the strengths and skills everyone brings to the table, and the collaboration has really helped us discover how to best deliver this program.”

The i.d.e.a. Fund was created in 2022 to support and position businesses in southern Ontario for long-term growth. The goal is to provide high potential businesses with the opportunity to receive non-repayable contributions (seed funding) and business advisory supports to develop new green products, services, processes, and technologies and/or redesign existing products, services, processes, and technologies to reduce their impact on the environment.

In its inaugural year, the program garnered significant acclaim, culminating in the prestigious recognition of the 2023 TECNA (Technology Councils of North America) Innovation Award for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Supported by a $10-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the i.d.e.a. Fund is led by Boundless Accelerator in partnership with five Regional Innovation Centres (RICs): WEtech Alliance, Haltech, Innovate Niagara, Innovation Factory and TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario.

Through the program, each RIC is able to distribute a maximum of $30,000 in matching seed funding to select innovative businesses in various sectors including medtech, agritech, social enterprise, advanced manufacturing and more.

“Canada’s growing green technology sector is solving complex problems while creating jobs. Our government is encouraged to see the promising companies that the i.d.e.a. Fund is supporting,” says the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. “The innovations that Canadian companies are bringing to the table will help Canadians lead healthier and more prosperous lives. It is critical that we continue to support businesses that provide positive, sustainable solutions.”

i.d.e.a. Fund participants also receive one-on-one business coaching with specialized mentors from a wide array of industries, providing invaluable guidance and support on their entrepreneurial journey.

After a successful first cohort in 2023, Hunsperger says the RICs considered how to enhance the program and provide more resources to participants.

“We’re so grateful that everyone has really shared their knowledge and resources; I think it’s made the program the best it can be,” she says. “In Cohort 1, there was a lot of learning and planning, and this time we were able to really look at how we could add even more value to the companies.”

Hunsperger points to two RICs in particular—Innovation Factory and WEtech Alliance—who organized free virtual networking and educational events for i.d.e.a. Fund participants to attend.

“After a few clients across the RICs said they’d like an opportunity to network, Innovation Factory stepped up and said they’d like to run something on the Remo platform,” recalls Hunsperger.

“It was really great to see how many people came out; it was a wonderful chance for participants to meet each other,” she continues. “We also had several advisors and industry experts attend, with great participation from all the RICs. I think we’ll definitely see some collaborations and synergies come out of that event in the months to come.”

WEtech Alliance’s virtual workshop, “Maximizing Your Trade Show ROI” was also well received by i.d.e.a. Fund participants, adds Hunsperger.

“We have so many clients in the program who allocated project expenses to attending trade shows but had never done that before, or just haven’t had a whole lot of success doing that,” she explains. “When you’re paying thousands of dollars to attend a trade show, it’s helpful to know how to get the most out of that, and Susy from WEtech put together an excellent tool for tracking trade show opportunities and leads.

“Those are just two of the additional, unexpected collaborations that came out of the second cohort, and it really highlights how all the Regional Innovation Centres shine in their own way; we’re just so lucky to have them on the project.”

In addition to overseeing the program’s implementation throughout southern Ontario, Boundless Accelerator also managed its own i.d.e.a. Fund cohort, comprised 21 companies spanning a diverse array of sectors.

Hunsperger shares that Cohort 2 is made up of roughly 50 percent cleantech companies and a blend of food and beverage, advanced materials and manufacturing, life science companies, and agriculture companies.

One of the participants Boundless Accelerator is supporting is OptiFab Technologies; a company focused on enhancing the productivity and quality of 3D printed metal parts. The company aims to reduce failures in aerospace, medical, and automotive applications, aligning with the program’s green economy goals by reducing waste through failures in production processes.

The project funded by i.d.e.a. Fund involves developing a software platform that uses artificial intelligence to analyze input parameters and provide recommendations for improving the speed, productivity, and quality of the 3D printing process.

“A.I. has just come up so quickly, and this company is a great example of somebody using it to make the world a better place,” says Hunsperger. “They address two key issues that the 3D printing industry usually sees, which are high print failures and inconsistent print quality.”

Founders Paria Karimi and Esmaeil Sadeghi, who have extensive experience in material science and manufacturing engineering, credit i.d.e.a. Fund with providing them with access to industry experts who helped them see the bigger picture.

The pair says they’re grateful for the mentorship received from coach Jeff Campbell during the commercialization process, noting that the coaching has helped them refine their strategies and gain insights from people outside academia who see the bigger picture of their business.

“He helped with everything; from the start of the idea and how we should really find the value proposition statements, mission, and vision to everything towards the final commercialization activities and how we should find the market,” says Sadeghi.

“Jeff was so encouraging,” adds Karimi. “We have always been in the more academia side of things with that technical type of mindset, but the coaches in this program really opened our minds to that business environment.”

In addition to OptiFab, Boundless Accelerator’s second i.d.e.a. Fund™ cohort includes 20 other businesses across a variety of sectors: All Circles, Be One to Give Inc., Cascara Energy, CCS, Cured Carbon, EcoTank, elerGreen, enVgo Inc., Evolve Builders Group, Glissner, Green Circle Dine Ware Ltd., Loop Parking, NanoCnet Ltd., Nanocycle Tech Inc., Rawcology, Remix Snacks, Saponetti, Stormflow Surfacing, The Box of Life, and The Fitting Room.

To discover more about i.d.e.a. Fund™, visit

To learn more about FedDev Ontario, visit