Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre will receive up to $8 million from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to launch a program to help Waterloo Region entrepreneurs start and grow new businesses.

The program, called AC JumpStart, will provide $30,000 in seed funding to eligible companies, to be matched by those companies, along with mentorship from experts in finance, sales, marketing, human resources, technology and product development, access to market research and connections to investors.

The AC has partnered with Conestoga College, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University to deliver the program, which is expected to help up to 180 companies over the next four years.

“AC JumpStart allows us to extend the reach of the Accelerator Centre’s world-class incubation programming and mentorship beyond the four walls of our facility to help hundreds of young companies across Waterloo Region,” said Paul Salvini, CEO of the AC, where today’s announcement was made.

In announcing the funding, Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for FedDev Ontario, said “helping our entrepreneurs and original thinkers export their products and services to the rest of the world creates jobs, growth and economic prosperity here at home.”

This is the second AC JumpStart program to be launched through the Accelerator Centre. Startups from the 2013 program have created 212 new jobs in Waterloo Region, generated $3.1 million in combined revenue and are expected to raise $5 million in private investment.

“JumpStart provided essential building blocks that helped us to establish a scalable and sustainable company,” said Jim Moss, co-founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Plasticity Labs, a 2013 AC JumpStart funding recipient.

Since it opened in 2006, the AC has helped build 130 startups that have created 1,200 jobs and generated $350 million in revenue and funding.