An innovation hub and an engineering firm have joined forces to create a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs in Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls Ryerson Innovation Hub, a business incubator focused on growing products and services for entrepreneurs based in Niagara, and Hatch, a global engineering, project management and professional services firm with an office on Queen Street, have developed a public makerspace.

The space was created at the hub’s downtown facility on Zimmerman Avenue, and will give start-ups, innovators and entrepreneurs a place where ideas can flourish and be brought to life with complete prototyping, small assembly and virtual-reality creation.

The 140-square-metre, state-of-the-art space consists of 3D printers, an industrial computer numerical control machine, laser cutting, virtual reality, and woodworking and power tools. It also includes drill presses and six workstations that can be used for assembly, soldering or other projects.

“We realized that a lot of our entrepreneurs were looking for opportunities to prototype and manufacture in small quantities and really have a space to build and innovate,” said Dan Bordenave, interim chief executive officer of the innovation hub.

“They had the ideas, but then there was nowhere locally where they could have just a one-stop shop to really get their idea down to physical product.”

The opening of the makerspace was the kickoff celebration for the monthlong women’s entrepreneurship initiative started by the innovation hub.

Events will include seminars, professional development activities (such as free professional headshots and rapid coaching session), networking events and a pitch competition with cash prizes.

The makerspace will also be home to Niagara’s first Summer STEF (science, technology, engineering and fitness) camps aimed at providing children with the opportunity to explore these fields, while ensuring health and wellness are considered.

Scholarship opportunities will be available for children from low-income families.

“Hatch is committed to helping our communities thrive through positive change,” said Kathleen Vukovics, Hatch’s Niagara operations manager.

“Hatch is enormously proud to support the makerspace. We are especially excited to encourage the children of Niagara Falls to find their love for science, technology, engineering and fitness at the camps.”

Bordenave said the makerspace will create a “strong buzz” in the community for current and future entrepreneurs.

“We are very excited for the makerspace and the endless potential it will open to citizens of Niagara Falls and the region who want to pursue innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said.

“We are very grateful to be able to collaborate with two such progressive and amazing organizations as Hatch and the City of Niagara Falls who have worked so hard to bring this idea to life.”

Mayor Jim Diodati said the partnership is a “great example of what can be accomplished with “ingenuity and collaboration in the heart of Niagara Falls.

“The public makerspace will inspire entrepreneurs and will be a catalyst for fresh, exciting ideas and continued business activity and growth in our downtown,” he said.

For more information about the makerspace and upcoming events, visit niagarafallsryersonhub.ca.