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Oakville : Innovation + Job News

15 Oakville Articles | Page:

North America's first parcel pick-up network launches in the GTA

Every so often—and especially at this time of year, when many of us are ordering presents and holiday gear—you come home to one of those annoying notices flapping on your door. Missed delivery.

To help shoppers (and the businesses trying to send them their goods) avoid that frustration, a new network of parcel pick-up stations has just launched in the GTA called BufferBox. There will be eight stations in Toronto by the end of this week, with several more elsewhere in the region. Another 10 are expected by year's end, with the goal of expanding nationwide.

To use the service, someone signs up with BufferBox and selects a home location—one of the pick-up stations that have been installed—and then provides that address to a company when ordering items for delivery. When the parcel arrives, BufferBox puts the package in a locker within the station, and then sends you an email with single-use PIN, which you use to open the box and retrieve your item.

The initial set of locations is geared to commuters and transit users: in its first partnership, BufferBox is working with Metrolinx and has installed parcel boxes in five GO stations (Union, Clarkson, Burlington, Oakville, and Port Credit). Three other parcel stations are in 7-Eleven locations, and in the near future, BufferBox also hopes to announce a supermarket partner.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Brad Moggach, Sales & Marketing Director, BufferBox

Rockstar Games relocates to GTA, expands staff to 50

Toronto's position as a centre for game development strengthened again this month, as Rockstar Games announced it would consolidate its Canadian operations with a new facility in Oakville. The studio will also be adding more than 50 jobs.

Some of those positions are transfers from Vancouver, where Rockstar is shutting down; others are new hires to accommodate future growth. Among the list of positions they are currently seeking to fill: programmers, animators and visual effects artists.

The Toronto studio of the major game-maker has been involved in the development of several key titles, including several installments of Grand Theft Auto, and most recently, Max Payne 3.

The Ontario government has provided support and tax incentives to help Rockstar with the move, Minister of Economic Development and Innovation Brad Duguid announced via a statement to the press, though the financial details were not disclosed.

The move to Toronto comes hot on the heels of Ubisoft's expansion in Toronto. While we've been known for the strength of our independent gaming community, as well as for training excellent animators, it's only recently that major gaming studios have shown such a keen interest in the region.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Rockstar Games

Expanding R&D into electric car battery system creates 102 new jobs at Dana's Oakville operation

Just two years ago, a heat exchanger essential for the operation of lithium-ion batteries in hybrid and electric vehicles was developed in Oakville, Ontario, at the global battery R&D centre of Dana Holding Corporation. The exchanger is now featured in the Tesla Motors Sport, the Ford Focus EV and the Chevrolet Volt, as well as in new models from Hyundai and Kia.

Recently the company received a $2-million grant from the province of Ontario to fund ongoing development of such battery cooling systems, funding that the government and the company say will add 102 new staff to the company's existing team of 53. For its part, Dana expects to invest $37 million in expanding its Oakville research centre and its Cambridge, Ontario, manufacturing facility. It's also engaged in research projects with three Ontario universities.

"We're pleased to collaborate with the province of Ontario," stated Dwayne Matthews, president of the Power Technologies business at Dana, in a news release after the grant was announced. "Clean energy is a global need, and will require commitments from both public and private sectors to make alternative-energy vehicles more broadly available."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Lauren Tedesco, Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Trade; Dana Holding Corporation

GTA's Temporal Power secures financing to demonstrate revolutionary green utility tech

Temporal Power, a cleantech company that is a MaRS client based Burlington, secured financing earlier this year to pursue its breakthrough sustainable energy technology that could eventually make green sources of power such as wind a more viable source of electricity.

Company CEO Cam Carver says that the team of four at Temporal Power -- who currently rely a good deal on outside contractors -- now has the capital to pursue "utility-scale demonstration" projects of its flywheel technology. The flywheel allows for storage of electricity for later deployment on the grid at large scale and low cost. Storage has been seen as a key obstacle to full adoption of green energy because of the intermittent nature of generation techniques such as wind.

Carver says that the demonstration projects are expected to be ready sometime next year.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Cam Carver, CEO, Temporal Power

$7 million clean chemical project by EcoSynthetix will lead to 40 new jobs in the GTA

The clean-chemical innovation company EcoSynthetix will relocate it's head office and research facility from Lansing, Michigan to the edge of the Greater Toronto Area, creating 40 new jobs and driving environmental innovation. The company's move will be supported by a $3 million investment from the provincial government, it was announced earlier this month.

The new 34,000-square-foot Global Innovation and Technology Demonstration Centre will focus on developing and marketing eco-friendly alternatives to petroleum-based products for the global paper industry--an $800 billion industry. The 15-year-old company estimates that the paper-coating share of the market is worth more than US$5 billion annually.

Minister of Innovation Glen Murray said he was pleased the province's investment would help bring the company to Ontario. "EcoSynthetix's technology has the potential to fundamentally change the paper and paperboard industry, and capture a huge share of this $800-billion market — while protecting our environment and boosting Burlington's economy," he said in a prepared statement.

EcoSynthetix CEO John van Leeuwen told the Sustainable Chemistry Alliance that the support of both provincial and federal governments was key to the decision to move to the GTA, and that as an environmental innovator, he looked forward to working with the Toronto region's universities.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Office of the Minister of Innovation; John van Leeuwen, EcoSynthetix; Sustainable Chemistry Alliance

New provincial drug regulation means growth opportunity for Oakville's PharmaTrust

Earlier this month, the provincial government announced changes in Ontario's pharmacy regulations that will, as the announcement says, "enable prescriptions to be dispensed using remote dispensing technology without a pharmacist being physically present."

This is good news for Oakville-based tech firm PharmaTrust, whose technology MedCentre is designed specifically to enable remote prescription medication dispensing. Don Waugh, chairman of PharmaTrust's parent company, greeted the news, saying demand for his service is growing due to an aging population. "This is good news for patients who require greater access to pharmaceutical care."

The MedCentre technology is called a "pharmacy in a box" -- a station with a video monitor that allows patients to have a face-to-face consultation with a pharmacist even when they are located miles from the actual building that the pharmacist is in. It takes payments and dispenses drugs on the spot, eliminating the need to open whole new pharmacies in remote areas.

As the news of growth prospects arrives, the company is hiring now.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Susan Fenton, PharmaTrust

Oakville animation studio Pipeline grows from 24 to 90 employees in four years, hiring now

Oakville's Pipeline Studios has grown quickly since its launch in 2007, taking on computer animation projects for such entertainment powerhouses as Nelvana, Nick Jr., Hasbro and the Disney Channel, including working on the kids' show blockbuster The Backyardigans. In that time they've also grown from 24 to 90 employees, and continue to hire now, according to company co-founder Juan Lopez.

"It's a constant process of growing and hiring," Lopez says. "it's a key advantage, having made a large investment in technology, but also being close to a pool of very highly skilled labour." He notes that Canada—and the GTA and Sheridan College in particular—have a global reputation for excellence in animation. "That reputation means that major worldwide productions come here, even though there's competition from lower-cost areas such as China. We control the standard of quality." He notes that the company's reputation for quality and for employing the best has also attacted some of the best animators in the world to relocate here. "People like the quality of life here. They mention it."

Mac Holyoke was a Sheridan College graduate and an employee of Nelvana when he hooked up with fellow Sheridan Grad Lopez to found the company in January 2007. They formed a partnership with Sheridan College's business incubator Spark, and have since recruited more than 60 per cent of their staff from the school, which is known around the world for its animation program. Pipeline's success at Spark was recently held up as a model by the Ministry of Research and Innovation when it announced the creation of an Ontario Centre of Excellence research hub called HalTech at Sheridan.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Juan Lopez, Pipeline Studios; Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation

Oakville's Smart Energy Instruments attracts funding, prepares to launch smart grid measurement tech

Experts seem to agree that a "smart grid" is on the way -- a key to the sustainable energy picture in the future. But as it stands, an important mechanism for managing the smart grid, a reliable way to manage and monitor power flow, has been missing from the picture. At least one estimate puts the annual cost of "power quality events" resulting from this hole in the system cost $180 million per year in North America.

Enter Smart Energy Instruments (SEI) of Oakville, Ontario, formerly known as ANI Technologies Corp. Incorporated in 2004, SEI has developed a technology that measures power flows, allowing utilities and grid operators identify problems in the grid and better regulate the energy supply. According to CEO Jeff Dionne, who has been developing the technology for the past 15 years, the company's device facilitates the type of management that is "the very definition of the smart grid."

SEI began life with a $600,000 investment from its founders and has raised additional funds from two rounds of angel funding -- one $150,000 round in 2010, and an $850,000 round announced in early February. The three-person shop will use the funding to file patents on its proprietary technology and to run pilot products with its existing prototype, as well as hire some additional significant employees, Dionne says.

The company's business plan calls for deployment of the technology through licensing arrangements with large multinational partners in North America and Asia.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Jeff Dionne, CEO, Smart Energy Instruments

3D design innovators Javelin have added 10 staff recently, will add 5 more moving into new office

Oakville's Javelin Technologies has built a sturdy business out of selling and supporting SolidWorks 3D manufacturing software. The software allows manufacturing designers to model their products in three dimensions, run simulations and manage data. For Javelin, it's been a boon supporting the local automotive manufacturing industry. In the words of Managing Director John Carlin, "3D design makes our auto parts industry, especially tool, die and mould makers, more competitive in the global market. The production of digital models and 3D prototypes is the future of manufacturing."

And because of that prognosis, the future of Javelin also looks bright. Founded in 1997, the company has steadily built its reputation -- they are recognized as the number one SolidWorks reseller in Canada -- and has continued to grow steadily. In the past year and a half, they have added 10 new employees to their staff, bringing their total number of employees to 50. In April, the company moves into a new technology centre in Oakville, and will add five more new employees.

Carlan says that the team is "very excited" about the move -- which is perhaps overdue since they've been in the same location since 1998. At 12,000 square feet, the new office will offer roughly double the space of the old one. And Carlan takes the opportunity to use the news as a plug for his product. "As the leading 3D design software company in Canada we needed to have our building design as a usable 3D solid model. Our team has used SolidWorks as well as BuiltWorks to model up the building and the structure."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: John Carlan, Managing Director, Javelin Technologies

Biopharmaceutical company UCB Canada gets approval for epilepsy treatment, expects "constant hiring"

Health Canada has given its approval to the new antiepileptic drug Vimpat from UCB Canada. The treatment represents a potential benefit to sufferers of epilepsy and a toehold in the neurological treatment field for Oakville biopharmaceutical company UCB.

The Oakville office, the Canadian branch of international pharmaceutical giant UCB, had previously had a treatment for immunology, according to Business Unit Director Ross Glover, "This is a big milestone for the company — this is the first of several neurological treatments we intend to bring to the Canadian market."

The company's Canadian office was launched in 2006, Glover says, with the dual goals of bringing UCB's global therapies to the Canadian market and to do homegrown research that would "bring the benefit of our Canadian neurologists to the global platform." In its four years, the company has grown to employ 28 staff in the GTA.

This approval will of course, Glover says, mean growth for the company, and he anticipates further growth in step with research outcomes. "As far as employment goes, I expect ongoing hiring for the next five years as we go forward and as we have success."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Ross Glover, UCB Canada Inc.

Toronto-based historic brewery brings its first product to the LCBO

Three years ago, Mike Arnold of the Oakville-based craft brewery Trafalgar was at a small beer festival at Black Creek Pioneer Village. "I thought to myself, why isn't there a brewery here? Any town in this time period would have had its own brewer." As it turned out, Arnold's brainstorm dovetailed with a desire by the tourist-attraction village to expand its reach to a more adult audience.

Arnold and his colleagues hired local craftspeople to painstakingly recreate authentic period brewing equipment, and in 2009, the Black Creek Brewery was born. The historic brewery's single employee, Ed Koren, serves as both exhibit at the historical site, working away while visitors stop in and ask questions, and as brewmaster for the budding craft brewery. Though the batches he brews onsite are historically accurate and have a shelf-life of only three or four days, the parent company Trafalgar has been working to translate some of those recipes to a modern market.

Recently, Black Creek Brewery, working with Trafalgar, launched its first entry into the LCBO -- the Black Creek Porter, based on traditional recipes from the late 1800s. "Its been a real success, we're adding five or six stores a week," says Arnold, noting that six weeks after its launch, the Porter is now available in 80 LCBO outlets.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Mike Arnold, Trafalgar Brewery/Black Creek Historic Brewery

Sheridan College gets $2.3 million for research into innovative treatment of aging

Sheridan College in Oakville set up the Elder Research Centre (SERC) in 2003 to conduct research into helping older Candians as they age. Earlier this week, the federal government announced a $2.3 million grant to the centre as part of the College and Community Innovation Program.

The money will support the centre's groundbreaking "Aging in Place" project, which the school's release says, "will see SERC collaborate with small and medium-sized companies in the research and design of technology applications that promote cognitive health and social inclusion. Ten founding partners will work together with Sheridan researchers, faculty members and students; the partners include Acclaim Heath and Community Care Services, Cerebral Vortex, pigeon*branding + design, PointerWare Innovations, Posit Science Corporation, Recreational Respite, the Region of Halton, Retire-at-Home, Schlegel Seniors Villages and Symetric Productions."

In announcing the grant and 10 others in the program, federal Minister of Industry Tony Clement said "These new partnerships will provide skills training for the communities in which they are based, position Canadian colleges as a destination for top research talent and give local businesses in communities across the country access to the knowledge and resources they need to innovate and commercialize new products and services."

"This is an important announcement for SERC, Sheridan and the broader communities we serve," Jeff Zabudsky, Sheridan's president and CEO, said. "By collaborating with regional companies, we can help to foster innovation and economic development at a local level."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Susan Atkinson, Sheridan College; Lynn Meahan, office of Minister Tony Clement

Constant innovation leads FlightNetwork.com to #2 rank, 200-300% employment growth

In a recent study conducted by PhoCusWright & Experian Hitwise, FlightNetwork.com ranked second among online travel sales organizations, with 6 per cent of the market (second to expedia.ca's 18 per cent share).

For the Oakville-based FlightNetwork.com, it was a welcome confirmation of their success. According to General Manager Suri Pillai, the company was founded in 1998, but really only took off in 2006 when it settled on a business plan and set up shop online. In the four years since, Pillai says, the company has seen 200-300 per cent growth, and now boasts 145 employees in the GTA.

Pillai attributes his company's success to a number of factors, but traces many of them to a single source: "One of our key assets is our technology," he says, "we build our technology in house. We're innovating and evolving every day -- we make changes to our website every week, and that gives us a very powerful advantage."

Pillai says that he expects continued growth in the immediate future as the company begins to fully exploit the new business potential offered by social media.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Suri Pillai, General Manager, FlightNetwork.com

Got an Innovation & Job News tip? Email [email protected].

$25 million investment will help Oakville energy conservation company Fifth Light hire 86

Fifth Light, an Oakville-based company that helps companies conserve energy by automatically dimming lights, will invest $25 million to advance its technology over the next five years, an investment that is expected to create 86 new jobs.

The company's innovative "dimmable ballast for fluorescent light bulbs" automatically dims indoor lighting depending on the amount of exterior light available. The company says its technology helps businesses with fluorescent lighting conserve energy, generate revenue, increase productivity and reduce waste.

"This investment gives us a heightened ability to deliver on upcoming contracts using a groundbreaking system we wholeheartedly believe in," says Dr. Joseph Dableh, CEO and president of Fifth Light Technology. His comments came after last month's announcement by the provincial government that the Ministry of Economic Development would provide a grant of $3.75 million to the company as part of the $25 million total investment.

Author: Edward Keenan
Sources: Dr. Joseph Dableh, CEO and president, Fifth Light Technology; Leigh-Ann Popek, Minister of Economic Development and Trade's Office

Got an Innovation & Job News tip? Email [email protected].

New federal government SME initiative will invest $15 million in Ontario innovation, jobs

A $15 million innovation initiative launched April 19 in Oakville by the Federal Government's Economic Development Agency will help Ontario small- and medium-sized businesses partner with Colleges and Universities to bring innovative products and services to market. At the launch, federal minister Gary Goodyear said that the Applied Research and Commercialization Initiative would drive jobs and the economy.

The initiative will allow smaller businesses that would like to innovate to partner with post-secondary institutions who can help them with research and bringing new products to market. The funding will go to educational institutions that offer, according to an announcement, "services focused on improving innovation, productivity and commercialization to help individual businesses with pre-commercialization activities. These activities may include: product and process applied research; engineering design; technology development; product testing; certification; and pilot testing as well as proof-of-concept work for a partner business."

Almost immediately, the move was applauded by representatives of the academic community. Polytechnics Canada, a national alliance of publicly funded colleges and institutes of technology, called the new program an "innovation game changer."

Nobina Robinson, CEO, Polytechnics Canada says that this pilot project is significant for her members in that it recognizes the role community colleges play in driving practical innovation and developing the economy. "The reason [community colleges] do research is to help companies and to give our students hands-on experience," she says, not to rack up credits as is often in the case with universities. "It's applied science, applied technology, appllied health, and what you see is the federal government saying they're going to give us the capacity to help companies and advance the economy."

In a release, Polytechnics Canada chair John Davies called it a win-win. "Everyone will benefit -- companies, Ontario colleges, students and graduates -- as well as the economy."

Those interested in applying can find information and applications at the FedDev website.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Nobina Robinson, CEO, Polytechnics Canada; Office of the Honourable Gary Goodyear

Got an Innovation & Job News tip? Email [email protected].
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