Press releases

Innovation Cluster Introduces Barry Payne as Expert in Residence to Propel Indigenous Entrepreneurship

July 12, 2023 – PETERBOROUGH, ON – The Innovation Cluster proudly welcomes Barry Payne, a seasoned entrepreneur and champion of Indigenous business development, as its latest Expert in Residence (ExIR). Barry’s appointment is a testament to the Innovation Cluster’s commitment to fostering an inclusive innovation ecosystem, particularly extending the reach of its entrepreneurship program to Indigenous communities.

Barry comes with a wealth of entrepreneurial experience with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous owned businesses. A proud member of Hiawatha First Nation, he started his journey with Adirondack Technologies Furniture Inc., transforming it from a basement startup to a nationally recognized organization. He is also currently the Indigenous procurement ambassador at Procurement Assistance Canada, where he has the opportunity to work with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous owned companies to help them consider the federal government as a client.

On his new role, Barry commented, “I am excited to take on this new role at the Innovation Cluster, which has demonstrated a sincere commitment to inclusion and Indigenous business growth. As a member of Hiawatha First Nation and an entrepreneur, I understand the potential within our communities. I look forward to extending the reach of the entrepreneurship program and supporting the growth of Indigenous owned businesses.”

As the Innovation Cluster’s new ExIR, Barry will provide mentoring to clients, helping them navigate government funding, optimize networking, and offering invaluable business advice. His involvement aims to bridge the gap between Indigenous communities and the entrepreneurship landscape, tapping into the Indigenous peoples’ growing business creation rate, which is currently nine times that of the average Canadian.

The Innovation Cluster understands the power of partnerships and the exponential benefits strong alliances with Indigenous communities can bring to the nation. The organization looks forward to Barry’s guidance in fostering these relationships. His dedication to promoting collaboration and mutual respect aligns seamlessly with the Innovation Cluster’s vision for socio-economic growth.

Nicole Stephenson, Interim CEO at Innovation Cluster, spoke highly of the new addition to their team, “We are honoured to have Barry Payne join us as an Expert in Residence. His unique perspective and experience will undoubtedly provide invaluable guidance for our clients and further our mission to drive innovation-focused, entrepreneur-led economic growth in the region, which must include Indigenous communities. At the Innovation Cluster, we understand the importance of Indigenous owned businesses in Canada’s economy, and we’re excited about our part in shaping the future.”

Stephenson further emphasized the organization’s dedication to fostering a diverse, purpose-driven workplace. “We’re proud to not only talk about diversity but to make it part of our operational fabric. Partnerships like the one with Barry are critical to an inclusive and diverse community of entrepreneurs. It’s an exciting time at the Innovation Cluster, and we can’t wait to see the growth and development that will stem from this partnership.”

In this new partnership, Barry’s commitment to working with Aboriginal companies and his expertise will significantly benefit all clients at the Innovation Cluster. His learned lessons will be a critical guide to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous entrepreneurs.


About the Innovation Cluster 

Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas (ICPK) is a non-profit organization that supports entrepreneurs to launch, grow and scale their businesses. They help entrepreneurs reach their business goals so that our local community, job market, and economy continue to grow.

The ICPK supports startup businesses by providing dynamic programming, mentorship, workshops, and networking opportunities to entrepreneurs through three core programs.

STARTUP INCUBATOR – a full-service Startup Incubator Program

STARTup Visa Program Canada – an Immigrant Entrepreneurship Program

Student Entrepreneurship Program

The Innovation Cluster operates across multiple locations, one of which includes LAUNCH Kawartha, a dedicated space for incubation programming situated in Lindsey, Kawartha Lakes. For additional information, please visit

Core Funding is provided by The City of Peterborough, Trent University, Fleming College, The City of Kawartha Lakes, OMAFRA, Feddev Ontario, and Franklin Empire. 


Media Contact

Innovation Cluster

Nicole Stephenson

Interim CEO

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