The Vernon Innovation & Entrepreneur Workspace, or VIEW, opened Sept. 1 2020 in Vernon’s downtown core. The centre aims to provide a collaborative workspace for North Okanagan entrepreneurs, freelancers and creators. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Vernon innovation centre ready to connect entrepreneurs

The VIEW is a hub for local creators to collaborate and network in a shared downtown workspace

Vernon’s first innovation centre is ready to bring North Okanagan entrepreneurs, creators and small business owners together.

The Vernon Innovation and Entrepreneur Workspace, or VIEW, had its soft opening Tuesday downtown on the corner of 30th Street and 30th Avenue — the former location of the Naked Pig restaurant.

The flexible space is designed for creators, freelancers, business startups and more to collaborate, network and grow.

The grassroots project began with local stakeholders and project management from Community Futures North Okanagan. Accelerate Okanagan — which runs the Kelowna Innovation Centre — came on board last year to operate the space.

“Community Futures rallied a whole community of supporters behind this and got some really great feedback,” said Alex Goodhew, community manager for Accelerate Okanagan. “They were really about making this a Vernon homegrown project and making sure this was what the community wanted.”

With ample desk space, boardrooms, office spaces for rent, kitchen, lounge area and more, local entrepreneurs have plenty of different options to make the space their own — and the centre will keep evolving based on feedback.

“We’re really there to be listening to each entrepreneur’s needs, and trying to help them either through services and supports that we’re able to provide, or we can refer them to be able to provide those supports to the community as well,” Goodhew said.

Tenant applications are open, and entrepreneurs are also welcome welcome to book a no-touch tour of the centre.

Beyond getting a view of the space and amenities, the tours are a chance to provide feedback and discuss resources such as mentorship programs and coaching events.

Businesses looking for more personalized support can also arrange a free coaching session with Accelerate Okanagan mentor Andrew Kingel.

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The VIEW’s hub-and-spoke model will help to create collaborations with other organizations throughout the Okanagan and beyond.

“There’s so many other incredible organizations in the North Okanagan and Okanagan-wide to help entrepreneurs,” Goodhew said. “We really want to act as that hub and connector to help them.”

The VIEW has a hack-a-thon event planned for Oct. 29, which will see groups generate ideas and concepts to solve a talent-based challenge, with the results broadcast to a virtual audience.

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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The Vernon Innovation & Entrepreneur Workspace, or VIEW, opened Sept. 1 2020 in Vernon’s downtown core. The centre aims to provide a collaborative workspace for North Okanagan entrepreneurs, freelancers and creators. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

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