Simcoe County entrepreneurs awarded grants and mentorships to support new tourism ideas

Simcoe County entrepreneurs awarded grants and mentorships to support new tourism ideas
Three finalists who made winning pitches for the Simcoe County “Spark” Program were each awarded a $3,000 seed grant and mentorship to help them get started with their new tourism ideas.

The Simcoe County “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program is a collaborative partnership initiative between Tourism Simcoe County, Regional Tourism Organization 7 (RTO7) and the Tourism Innovation Lab.

“This program and process is proof that the tourism industry in Simcoe County will continue to flourish as we recover from the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. We were overwhelmed with the number of applicants and the incredible ideas that were proposed. Congratulations to all of the winners! We cannot wait to see the development of these amazing experiences. Tourism Simcoe County will be working hard with all applicants to assist in bringing all of their creative ideas to market. Thank you to the Tourism Innovation Lab for making this all possible, and to all the applicants and partners involved.”
~ Kathryn Stephenson, Manager of Tourism, County of Simcoe

The program’s goal is to find, foster and support new tourism ideas, experiences and partnerships that will enhance current offerings, address gaps or challenges, motivate travel and longer stays, and increase year-round visits in the region.

“We are excited to be able to continue our work with the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab. This initiative is a great way to foster new, creative ideas for Simcoe County. We are thrilled at the quality and quantity of applicants that were received and we look forward to bringing all the applicants into the Spark network.”
~ Bill Sullivan, CEO, RTO7

Fourteen applications were received, with the top five being invited to present their new tourism ideas at virtual Pitch Sessions held yesterday. A judge panel of tourism leaders, partner representatives and an entrepreneur from outside the region selected the three winning applicants.

The 2022 Simcoe County “Spark” Program winners are:
  • Alexandra McLaughlin, Art by Alex (Come Paint With Me Experiences)
  • Svetlana Lazareva, Lavender Fox (Year-Round Nature Adventures)
  • Tyneisha Ternent (Simcoe County Poetry Concerts)

In addition to seed funds, mentorship and additional partner support, selected applicants gain access to a network of tourism innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders across the province.

“We congratulate the winners and finalists of the Simcoe County “Spark” Program, and are excited to work with them to help develop new and exciting tourism offerings in the region”
~ Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead, Tourism Innovation Lab.

For more information visit

About Tourism Simcoe County
Tourism Simcoe County (TSC) promotes Simcoe County as a four season destination of choice by developing products and experiences and executing comprehensive marketing campaigns across a variety of multimedia platforms. TSC provides tourism leadership throughout Simcoe County by developing the local tourism industry and forging and strengthening community partnerships. TSC is committed to supporting the sustainable growth of the region’s tourism assets, including, but not limited to, Agritourism, Arts, Culture and Heritage Tourism, Indigenous Tourism and Outdoor Recreation.

About Tourism Innovation Lab
The Tourism Innovation Lab is a non-profit initiative created to find, foster and support new tourism ideas, experiences and partnerships, to cultivate and propel collaborations between the tourism and tech sectors, and to build a community of tourism innovators, idea makers and entrepreneurs in Canada. First launched in 2018, the Lab and its "Spark" Mentorships & Grants Program are expanding to new regions in British Columbia and Ontario. The Tourism Innovation Lab is a program of Hackforge and is based at the University of Windsor-EPICentre.

For more information on the "Spark" Program, contact RTO7's Manager of Stakeholder Relations, Kim Clarke, at or Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead at the Tourism Innovation Lab, at

Views, thoughts and opinions expressed in the blog comments section belong solely to the comments' authors and are not necessarily those of Regional Tourism Organization 7 (RTO7), its Board of Directors or its staff.

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