Incubators Aren’t Just for Chicks Anymore

Incubator spaces are becoming instrumental for small business growth. How can someone wanting to create a drone possibly afford the necessary equipment, which ranges in the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars? By sharing it with other entrepreneurs who have similar aspirations. Enter the MIDAS lab.

MIDAS is a handy acronym that flows off the tongue a little easier than Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration & Studies. Another simplified title of the new MIDAS lab in Trail, B.C., would be metallurgical innovation centre. That’s how co-creator Don Freschi describes this new enterprise.

“We want to work around metals and focus on metallurgical products within a fab-lab setting,” he said. “We got the 3-D printers, metal working station, woodworking stations, everything focused around the metallurgical sector.”

A place with plenty of space

The MIDAS lab is a building that houses a variety of equipment used to manipulate metals and plastics for projects that small business owners can utilize. Space is available in the MIDAS building to set up shop and collaborate with other visionaries and businesses in need of high-tech equipment.

“You can come in, drop by and join up—MIDAS is offering memberships,” he said. “We’ve kept about 3,000 square feet in the back for incubating new companies. Right now there’s Fenix, KAST Materials  and Austin Engineering.”

Diverse gadgetry

The technology within the MIDAS lab is nothing to snuff at either. There’s a $100,000 laser scanner in which you scan something, bring it into a computer, manipulate it, make your own design, then print it in 3-D to create a prototype. The lab is stocked with tons of woodworking equipment capable of cutting fibreglass, wood and metals as well as laser cutters that can slice through an inch of steel.

“You can prototype anything you want,” said Freschi. “If you have an idea, you can make it in there.”

Turning vision into reality

Undertaking a project of this magnitude wasn’t simple but somehow Freschi and his collaborators managed to achieve their goal. “With MIDAS, all the stars aligned,” he said. “What we’ve pulled off is incredible.”

Freschi said the first step to get an innovation centre going is to start with a co-working space—a get-together area where people can discuss and share the same interests. From there it can become a formal technology group and evolves thereafter. Next comes funding, industry buy-in, academia buy-in and local buy-in.

“It’s a long process,” he said, “but MIDAS is a good example. We have the model. We did it. It’s just a matter of working through the steps to make it happen.”

Originally posted at Kootenay Business.