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The Junction : Innovation + Job News

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Techwyse gets Google Partner status

Toronto Internet marketing company Techwyse has become one of Canada's first official Google Partners. And for founder and CEO DJ Kennedy, that’s several kinds of good news.

"They’ve made it very clear that if a business comes in and searches for a Google Partner, they’ve built an algorithm based on geographical location that will match you up with companies in the industry by region," he says. "If you go in and do a search [for internet marketing companies], you’ll typically find that we’ll be in the top three or four results."

That can be of enormous value in a market saturated with Internet marketing companies. Internet marketing companies plan, develop, market, promote, measure and track their customer products and services, attempting to maximize the effectiveness of their online endeavours.

On a broader level, though, Kennedy is pleased that this new partnership program is itself "an acknowledgement that they’re trying to grow their agencies and partnerships. Ten years ago, they announced they were trying to kill agencies, and now, they’re acknowledging them," Kennedy says. "It’s a big deal."

According to Google, Google Partners' businesses "are healthy, their customers are happy, and they exhibit Google best practices."

Techwyse, whose offices are at Dupont and Lansdowne, employs 80 people and hopes profiting from this designation will help them grow.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: DJ Kennedy

Who's Hiring in Toronto? The United Way, Ubisoft, Twitter, and more

The best of the job opportunities we've spotted this week:

Major charity umbrella organization United Way is looking for someone to tend to its relationships with member and funded agencies, and serve as its manager of community investment.

Video game developer Ubisoft is hiring for a number of positions, including an animation director, a lead gameplay programmer, and a lead 3D programmer. The international company unveiled the first game to emerge from their Toronto studio last summer.

In slightly more traditional entertainment media, Cineplex is hiring a motion designer to work on their pre-show content.

And among the very newest of media: Twitter is hiring an account manager to help with business development.

Solar company PURE Energies, which makes and installs rooftop photovoltaic panels, is on the hunt for a new project assistant. Alternately, if you like the idea of smarter construction but are a bit more of a creative type, ReNew Canada (an infrastructure magazine) needs an editor. Also in the category of better building: Habitat for Humanity, which is looking for a national manager for individual partnerships.

Finally, innovation incubate MaRS is hiring a facilitator for entrepreneurship education. It's a part-time position that involves providing guidance and support to emerging technology companies as they establish their businesses.

Are you hiring or do you know of an innovative job opportunity in Toronto? Email Yonge Street's innovation and jobs editor Hamutal Dotan to let her know. 

Toronto among the world's leading cities for startups

"While nearly all high growth technology startups have historically emerged from no more than 3-4 startup ecosystems, namely Silicon Valley and Boston, this trend appears to have reached its end. Simultaneous with a global explosion of entrepreneurship has been an explosion in the rise of new startup ecosystems around the world, and a newfound maturity in others."

So begins a new report from the Startup Genome called the Startup Ecosystem Report (available for free online, though registration is required). And among those ecosystems that are currently flourishing: Toronto, which ranks the highest in Canada on the report's index, and eighth in the world. (Vancouver is right behind us in ninth; more surprisingly Waterloo is further behind, at sixteenth.)

All cities in the index are compared to Silicon Valley (which predictably is the benchmark first-place ecoysystem) across a variety of metrics. While we are similar to Silicon Valley in terms of our level of ambition, our technology adoption rates, our sector mix and mentorship support, one key area of difference, according to the report, is that "startups in Toronto receive 71% less funding than SV startups. The capital deficiency exists both before and after product market fit."

While that may sound like grim news, it actually provides a very useful roadmap for future growth. The report goes on to conclude that the current under-investment in Toronto-area startups "presents a large opportunity for investors. Moreover, "policy makers can help closing the funding gap by attracting late-stage venture funds through tax breaks and incentives, and investor-friendly policies."

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Startup Ecosystem Report

Wantster gets $4M investment

There is a certain honesty about the startup social platform Wantster: refreshing, useful or perhaps abrupt, depending on your point of view.

Wantster, in a nutshell, is a platform where you collect photos of things that you want, and can share them with others. Conceptually it's not unlike Pintrest, which allows you to collect and share images of things that you like—though Wantster cuts to the chase by forcing us to admit that the things that we like are also often the things that we covet.

It will strike some as crass, perhaps—and others as an incredibly helpful time-saver during the holiday shopping season. (The company's tagline: "Create lists of the things you want and follow others to see what they want for any gift giving occasion." No Santa snail mail required.)

No matter your perspective, some good news in terms of the local startup scene: Wantster, which launched in April, has just closed $4 million in financing. The investment comes from Evanov Communications, an independent radio broadcaster which operates several stations in Toronto (among them the multilingual AM530 and Proud FM 103.9) and several more across the country.

Wantster's frankness may be tapping into something: the company says that "well over" 500,000 wanted products have been posted since the launched. While the company's co-founders haven't divulged what how they plan to use the investment, it seems that at least some of the arrangement includes using the old-media radio stations to develop interest in the new-technology digital platform.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Wantster

Open source educational innovators Academy of the Impossible launch Dec 16 with 9 faculty

The Academy of the Impossible, a new "open source social enterprise" that aims to provide new educational opportunities will officially open its Junction Triangle office and educational space with a party December 16. The project was created by executive director Emily Pohl-Weary and director Jesse Hirsch using a small grant from the Atkinson Foundation and support from Hirsch's organization Metaviews.

"I've been running this writing group, Parkdale Street Writers, since 2008, and we've been camping out in other people's spaces—the library, the community centre—and we were looking for a home," says Pohl-Weary. "Jesse Hirsch does a lot of talks and workshops on media and technology and he was looking for a place where he could turn two-hour workshops into longer-term learning and action. So the Academy of the Impossible is a space for those, and we're hoping we can incubate ideas and projects for students and members."

Pohl-Weary describes the model for the school as collaborative: "The people who use it will be creators and shapers. It more like a conversation, or a learning network, than a lecture."

The Academy launches with nine faculty members, including Hirsch and Pohl-Weary, but the executive director says that the innovative arts, cultural and social project is a labour of love for all of them. As time goes on, some of the programs will generate revenue, she says, and a fundraising strategy will emerge.

The December 16 opening party runs 5pm to 9pm at 231 Wallace Ave.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Emily Pohl-Weary, executive director, Academy of the Impossible

High Park Family Fun Place opens in Junction April 3 with 17 staff

The central-west Toronto neighbourhood of the Junction is strollerville these days -- competing with Riverdale, Leslieville and Bloor West Village for the title of hipster-parent central. Two of those local parents in The Junction, partners Jennifer Turkenburg and Pierre Kasonga, are opening the High Park Family Fun Place to provide a community centre for all those young families to congregate.

The founders say the space was inspired by "our dream of having a community recreational meeting place that all local residents can enjoy." The facility will include an indoor playground, a full-scale fitness gym, an arts and crafts centre and events spaces for education and community events and parties.

If the programming seems ecccentric, it's because it represents the things the founders wish they had in their own community. Turkenburg says, "The High Park Family Fun Place is a truly a labour of love and has been created to better serve a wide community of great parents, grandparents and caregivers. We want to build the community hub we are all longing for."

The centre opens April 3 with a staff of 18. A full day of activities are planned for the kickoff party April 3, including puppet shows, magicians and music.

Author: Edward Keenan
Source: Pierre Kasonga and Jennifer Turkington, Founders, High Park Family Fun Place

Got an Innovation and Job News tip? Send it to Edward Keenan at [email protected].
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