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Pickering - Ajax - Whitby : Innovation + Job News

10 Pickering - Ajax - Whitby Articles | Page:

BufferBox acquired by Google

It was only a few weeks ago that we told you about BufferBox, a new network of parcel pick-up stations had just launched in the Toronto area. With a growing list of stations—they're up to about 14 in Toronto and Mississauga and have more going in by the end of the year—and a contract with Metrolinx to help target commuters, things seemed promising for the new startup.

And now, they are looking even more exciting. BufferBox has just announced it has been acquired by Google. Neither BufferBox nor Google would confirm the financial details, but TechCrunch is reporting the purchase price was in the neighbourhood of $17 million.

BufferBox services are free until year's end. When paid service begins they expect they'll be charging $3 or $4 per delivery. The goal is to have approximately 100 stations in the GTA by the end of 2013. Google, meanwhile, is likely looking for a challenger the Amazon Locker parcel delivery program (which is not available in Canada), and is hoping that BufferBox can expand and scale quickly.

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

Siemens plant in Pickering will create 350 jobs by end of 2012

Siemens Canada has broken ground on a new Pickering plant for its subsidiary, Trench Canada Instrument Transformers, that will create 350 new jobs.

In a speech to the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade late last month, Pickering mayor Dave Ryan said that the plant is the result of a long effort by the city to entice the company. "We started building this relationship with Siemens Canada seven years ago. While it took some time, I'm sure everyone agrees that these 350 prestige jobs are definitely worth the time, energy and effort," Ryan said.  "Together, Siemens and Trench will solidify Pickering's burgeoning reputation as one of Ontario's preeminent energy hubs."

Mark Guinto of the mayor's office said it was largely Pickering's established status as "a strong nucleus of the energy industry"—home to a nuclear power plant and other energy industry staples—that made the city attractive to Siemens. The Durham Strategic Energy Alliance, headquartered in Pickering, was involved in meetings with Siemens from the beginning, he said.

According to Guinto, the plant is under construction now and will open in late 2012. The number of jobs could possibly increase if the plant expands in the future.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Mark Guinto, Public Affairs Coordinator, Office of the Mayor of the City of Pickering

Pickering biotech firm 4iBIO aims to launch arthritic joint product within 6 months

Dr. Marvin Schwartz is a maxillofacial surgeon who has seen his share of arthritic joint problems.

"You could say this is many years in the making," he says of his company, 4iBIO, which is conducting clinical trials now on an artificial joint implant it hopes to make available for animal use this year.

"Helping humans is down the road," he says, noting that regulatory approvals are much more difficult for the human medical market than for the veterinary one. "The process is set. I have an American patent and other patents to follow. We've finished clinical trials on sheep hips, we're just finishing a clinical trial on dogs, and we have the intention of going to the veterinary market in about six months," he says.

The current dog trials are being conducted at the University of Guelph, with 50 per cent of the funding coming from the federal government (and the other half coming from 4iBIO). Schwartz says that he is seeking about $1.5 million now to set up a manufacturing facility in the GTA that will receive imaging data—such as CT scans—from doctors anywhere in the world and create a custom-made prosthesis for the patient using 3D modelling. For the trials, the company's three principals have been contracting out the manufacturing work, but expect to hire about three staff for the new plant when it opens.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Dr. Marvin Schwartz, CEO, 4iBIO 

Ajax's Messier-Dowty draws $1.9 million investment in aerospace innovation, will hire 5

The Ajax, Ontario plant of Messier-Dowty Inc will be adding five new jobs immediately to its existing staff of 500 to work on an innovative new green innovation initiative. The company's Toronto-area plant specializes in the design and manufacture of aircraft landing gear, and is working on developing a more environmentally friendly way to apply and remove chemical coatings on the gear. If it proves successful, the technique could have applications in aircraft manufacturing plants around the world.

The project has drawn a $1.9 million investment from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation's Innovation Demonstration Fund. In announcing the funding, provincial minister Glen Murray said that the company helps "demonstrate how research and innovation help keep Ontario's economy strong while protecting our environment," a claim to global fame his ministry hopes to cement through direct funding. For his part, Bryan Teed, president of Messier-Dowty added to the statement by giving some credit for the company's success to the talent coming out of local universities--name checking Ryerson and University of Toronto--and praising the local industry. "Our location...is the centre of the North American aerospace industry, and that enables us to service our clients quickly and efficiently."

Messier-Dowty's 19,000-square-metre facility in Ajax employs 500 people, and has been in operation for more than half a century. It is now part of the Safran Group Messier-Bugatti-Dowty multinational aerospace empire.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Ralph Benmergui, Office of the Minister of Research and Innovation

Pickering's first-ever post-secondary education centre will revitalize downtown

The new Pickering Learning Centre, announced this week by Dave Ryan, the Mayor of Pickering will be the first-ever post-secondary educational institution in the suburban GTA municipality. The facility will be run by Centennial College in partnership with Durham College, and will be located downtown, and is scheduled to be open in time to offer graduate certificate and continuing education programs in time for the fall 2012 semester.

In an email, the mayor's office said that the two-storey centre's location near the under-construction landmark pedestrian bridge will connect it to GO Rail, making it the only Ontario post-secondary educational facility with a direct link to rail transit (although Ryerson and the University of Toronto's proximity to the Toronto subway is effectively similar, and the under-construction subway link to York University will provide that school a similar distinction).

The school is part of an office tower complex directly north of the highway 401 in downtown Pickering that is the centrepiece of the city's downtown revitalization plan.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Mark Guinto, Public Affairs Coordinator, City of Pickering

Electric car demo centre--and 8 charging stations--now open in the GTA

The California-based company Better Place, who promote the use of electric vehicles, officially opened their Toronto operations earlier this month.  As of March 4, the company is operating a electric vehicle demonstration centre at Toronto's Evergreen Brick Works in the Don Valley just east of Rosedale, where members of the general public can learn more about electric vehicles and see a sample of a charging station.

The project, which received $1 million in funding form the provincial government, also includes eight GTA charging stations that will mostly serve participating corporate partners for now, located in Barrie, Toronto, Bowmanville, Markham, Vaughan and Ajax.

Better Place's North American VP, Jason Wolf, says in a statement that this type of project is part of setting the stage for "mass adoption" as the first-generation of electric vehicles rolls off the assembly lines. "This project highlights some of the key building blocks to get there: government leadership; public education; and a smart network system that scales and delivers benefits to the grid, rather than strains it." In addition to the provincial government, Better Places is working with the City of Toronto and regional utilities in the suburbs.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: John Proctor, Better Place; Leigh-Ann Popek, office of the Minister of Economic Development

$83,000 grant helps Durham Region with innovation and cleantech job creation programs

The GTA region of Durham--including Ajax, Whitby, Pickering and Oshawa--has traditionally had its employment anchored by the Oshawa GM plant. As the economy around car manufacturing undergoes a massive global transition, so is the regional economy.

To help that transition along, the provincial government recently announced an $83,000 grant aimed at job-creation projects in the region that will focus on driving the local economy into new sectors around innovation and cleantech. The funding will go to four specific projects: developing a strategy to attract clean technology investment; hosting a manufacturing expo aimed at attracting and showcasing innovation; launching a local business development website; and strengthening the "supply chain" in the local energy sector.

Roger Anderson, the regional chair, said that this investment will give companies a better look at why local municipalities are good places to invest, by promoting "economic development opportunities," letting employers "see what Durham Region has to offer."

Sandra Pupatello, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, said in announcing the grant that "Helping Durham region evolve its economy" will ensure the region's municipalities remain "globally competitive."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Melissa Bies, Region of Durham; Tim Weber, Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Trade

SunEdison gets the go-ahead for new solar plants in Mississauga, Whitby, will create 250+ jobs

Late last month, the Ontario government approved five new solar installations for SunEdison across the province that total 31 new megawatts of projects. Two of the projects are located in the GTA -- 500 kW rooftop projects in Mississauga and Whitby.

Jason Gray, SunEdison's Canadian manager, says the recent approvals increase the company's total solar production (either completed or in the pipeline) in Ontario by a little more than one-third. Since arriving in Toronto in 2007, the company has quickly taken advantage of the province's Feed-in-Tariff program to grow.

Gray says that since each installation employs roughly 125 people at its peak of construction, the two GTA projects will create 250 construction jobs locally. But he points out that the job benefits in the GTA are greater than that. "This really reinforces our relationships with suppliers that we've set up," he says, "and sustains the manufacturing jobs we've set up here." He points specifically to the arrangements SunEdison signed last year with auto parts manufacturer Samco to provide racking equipment (creating 60 jobs) and with Newmarket's Flextronics to supply the panels (creating 100 jobs).

Gray says, "this points to the continued success of the FIT program to create a solar industry here in Ontario, in that it reinforces the manufacturing investments we've made in the province."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Jason Gray, Canada Country Manager, SunEdison

Pickering's Pucker-Up brings hockey dad innovation to stores across Canada

One day in 2008, after spending too long collecting assorted pucks up off the ice after hockey practice, 12-year-old Christopher Wright asked his father to invent a device to make the task easier. His dad, Bill Wright, went home and came up with a prototype for a puck-lifting and storage device that proved to save time and wear and tear on backs and hands.

That product, tested on the ice at Pickering's Don Beer Arena, has been picked up for distribution by Canadian Tire. After signing a deal to become Canada's official retailer for National Hockey League equipment, the chain is making a significant push into the hockey market this year, and it expects the Wright's Pucker-Up innovation to be a hot seller, spectators were told at a media event at a Pickering Canadian Tire store on Sept. 10.

"From the mind of a child, to the ingenuity of his father," Mark Guinto of the Pickering mayor's office says by email, "this locally invented and tested product will be on Canadian Tire shelves across the country. And Mr. Wright didn't even have to go on the Dragon's Den to pitch it."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Mark Guinto, Public Affairs Coordinator, Office of the Mayor of Pickering

Durham region gets $35K to support local eating Food Charter

Ever since the 2007 publication of The 100-mile Diet by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, locavorism has become an ever-growing trend across North America. You can't read a Queen Street West restaurant menu these days without learning which farm your cow grew up on, and you can hardly navigate a city park amid the bugaboo strollers and bulging reusable designer bags crowded around the Farmers' Markets and the plots of community gardens.

While the conscious eating trend is more than local, much of the groundwork for the city's network of conscious food infrastructure was laid with the adoption of the Toronto Food Charter (pdf) in 2001.

And now, in a part of the 905 where farming is actually still a thriving industry, sustainable eating is taking on a similar practical force: the non-profit Community Development Council of Durham has secured $35,000 in funding to turn the principles of the Durham Region Food Charter into real action. The Charter has been in development for over three years. It lays out principles for healthy eating, environmental sustainabiltiy and support for local agriculture.

The CDCD initiative, funded by Friends of the Greenbelt, will set up an action plan and working group. According to Friends, 25% of farms in Ontario's greenbelt are located in Durham region.

The charter's goals also received a boost recently with the formation of The Durham Culinary Association, a Pickering-based social networking group of chefs devoted to local eating established by chef Philippe Trepanier and teacher James Blair.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Friends of the Greenbelt, Community Development Council of Durham, newsdurhamregion.com.
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