Halifax Partnership is pleased to welcome Patrick Farrar as the new Director of Innovation Halifax. Patrick brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and passion for growing startups and scaleups in Canada.

Prior to joining the Partnership, Patrick led several Canadian startup organizations, including Venture for Canada as COO and the Startup Zone as CEO. Throughout his career, he has advised regions on optimizing their entrepreneurial ecosystems and enhancing supports and training for entrepreneurs.

This week, we sat down with Patrick to find out what excites him about Halifax and his new role supporting startups and scaleup growth.

Tell us about your experience supporting the development and growth of startups and scaleups:

Well, I’ve had the pleasure of starting and building several different startups throughout my career. That exposure has allowed me to relate with entrepreneurs as they go through their journey. My first real experience of supporting a startup was during my MBA Capstone project at Saint Mary’s University. I helped a vital service business raise nearly $1 Million. Had they not received these funds they would have had to close their doors. With the funds raised, they were able to hire more employees and support more clients. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of some great ecosystem partners and mentors like Innovacorp, who helped the company secure funding and support dozens of jobs and clients in the process.

It was an amazing feeling and I wanted to continue helping. I found myself meeting with any entrepreneur to figure out where they needed help. Most entrepreneurs were trying to understand how they could make money, so we’d work on financials, breaking down expenses and revenue streams. Helping entrepreneurs understand their revenue streams led to helping them with customer discovery and product development. Then, to marketing and sales, and eventually even hiring staff.

Throughout the way, I learned by doing, and I also asked for help from those who had the expertise. This led to developing great relationships with experts and founders locally and nationally in the ecosystem. I would say most people out there are willing to help - you just need to ask the right way. Since then, I’ve gone on to help hundreds of founders and their colleagues as they navigate their business growth.

What excites you about being back in Halifax?

It’s been seven years since I lived in Halifax and wow, so much has changed. I think the most exciting part is all the entrepreneurial success here. As a result, accomplished founders here can go on to teach and fund the next generation of entrepreneurs. Many founders in Halifax have done business around the world, so we’re also seeing global channels opening up and international businesses are able to see what Halifax can do for them. Government support organizations are coming together, working towards unified goals. Community leaders are collaborating on challenges and opportunities, and then working towards solutions that can be applied on a global level. It’s very exciting to watch all this Halifax success snowball.

What excites you about your new role to advance Halifax's Innovation District and support startup and scaleup growth?

I think the most exciting piece in this role is that innovation isn’t exclusive to anything or anyone. In terms of our audience, we’re providing value and supporting startups, scaleups, small-medium businesses, and bigger corporations. We’re bridging the gap between the problems that each of these groups face and the potential solutions that already exist. If there are no solutions available, we look at how we can help coordinate the support and connections needed to solve the challenge. Then, with all levels of government (municipal, provincial, and federal), and private and post-secondary partners, there are an abundance of relevant relationships we are excited to coordinate, facilitate, and develop.

What do you see as opportunities to accelerate startup growth and innovation in our city and region?

The biggest opportunity is to help bridge the gap between the current problems, solutions, and resources that already exist. With so much growth, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything. Grants, programs, organizations, reports, opportunities for collaboration, and the list goes on. We’re here to help communicate and coordinate all these pieces and make connections between players in the ecosystem so others can spend their time doing what they really need to do! From there, we’ll cooperate and collaborate where support is needed the most, integrating best practices from experts locally and globally. When we foster an inclusive, open-minded, and collaborative city, we can accelerate the amazing work that’s getting done here.

Welcome back to Halifax, Patrick!

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