WINDSOR, ONT. -- A new program from the University of Windsor’s entrepreneurship hub looks to help businesses adapt and strengthen through the COVID-19 crisis.

The Entrepreneurship, Practice and Innovation Centre (EPICentre) launched the new ‘Nimble Program’ this week, which is focused on helping businesses embrace technology to secure a better future.

“This is a great time to help local businesses to adopt either new or emerging technology to help them survive or be sustainable,” says Wen Teoh, the director and founder of the EPICentre.

Teoh fast-tracked the launch of the program, originally set for the fall, and re-worked its stipulations to help businesses through the hardships of pandemic measures.

The program began accepting applications on Monday and is set to close on April 30.

Teoh says funding through FedDev will support five businesses with up to $6,000 in incentives including technology development and mentorship through program partner WE-Tech Alliance.

“We’re still seeing new entrepreneurs come through our pipeline, but there’s also a lot of start-ups and tech companies that have been affected,” says Yvonne Pilon, president and CEO of the business accelerator. “Some are doing great and some, not so great.”

The program is open to any for-profit small business in Windsor-Essex that’s been operating for at least two years.

Pilon sees the initiative as best for mainstream businesses ready to go after customers in a different way. “When this is over, what is the future of work and the future of business going to look like? I think Project Nimble really does a great job at preparing for the future,” says Pilon.

“That could be pivoting and finding a new revenue stream or it could be adopting technologies to find new customers or a larger base of customers.”

While there are broader emergency supports being rolled out for businesses by the federal government, Teoh says businesses need to adapt, or risk being out of business very quickly.

With best-laid plans likely needing to be re-drawn for many businesses in Windsor-Essex, Teoh hopes the program can prove to be the incentive some need to embrace technology.

“It’s almost like you have to start from scratch with everything, with your initiative, with your marketing,” says Teoh. “So, we hope that the program can help them adapt to that.”

A virtual information session is planned for Tuesday at 1 p.m.

Successful applicants will be notified by May 11 before the program comes to its end on November 30.