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Queen/King West : Innovation + Job News

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Counting Down to the Pan Am Games

This past weekend, Cisco Canada and the City of Toronto unveiled the Pan Am Games Countdown Clock, an innovative way to try and build momentum for the games as we head into the final round of preparations.

Located at Nathan Phillips Square, the clock—5.5 metres tall, 7.3 tonnes, and using five kilometres' worth of fibre optic cable—includes a range of internet-enabled functions that will be enhanced in the coming months.

In addition to counting down to the Games, the clock contains an interactive kiosk (it's wheelchair accessible—the screen adjusts height with the touch of a button) that will let you learn about the 51 sports included in the Pan Am Games, and about participating countries. If you're interested in volunteering you can learn more about options for that, too.

Over time new features will be added in, such as two-way video that will allow visitors to the clock to communicate with Pan Am athletes in their home towns, enabling communication between those of us hosting here and those who will be coming into Toronto for the Games.

Jeff Seifert, Cisco's chief technology officer, explains in a video about the clock that what makes it different are these added features, which are meant to create as engaging an experience as possible for users. The clock took six months to develop, and a team of 40 people was involved in its creation.

The 2015 Pan Am Games will take place from July 10–26, and the Parapan American Games will run from August 7–15.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Cisco Canada

ScribbleLive acquires major competitor CoverItLive

We last wrote about ScribbleLive—the digital publishing company that helps media outlets, sports teams, and brands provide real-time event coverage—a year ago, when they closed a new round of funding and had their eye on expansion. Those ambitions are only getting bigger: ScribbleLive has just announced that it has acquired its best-known competitor, CoverItLive.

The Toronto-based ScribbleLive approached the California-based Demand Media, which owned CoverItLive, because "We noticed that it wasn't a core business of their owners," explains CEO Vincent Mifsud. "It just happened that they were in the process of divesting of many of their assets," he goes on, and the deal went through smoothly, with the help of ScribbleLive's existing financial backers.

It didn't hurt that CoverItLive's engineering team happened to be located in Toronto already, which aided the transition: though the deal was announced just last night, CoverItLive's engineers have already moved into the ScribbleLive offices. The Toronto office is now at about 50 staff, with another 30 working internationally.

"Organically we're growing at around 70-80 per cent," Mifsud says, and ScribbleLive will continue to push that with new acquisitions to "round out our growth."

They are aiming to enhance the platform and services they offer, and given their newly-expanded engineering team, hope to start layering in new functionality shortly. Specifically, Mifsud told us that they are going to be focusing on content strategy planning tools, and at optimization tools that help the clients who use ScribbleLive get the most from the publishing platform.

ScribbleLive and CoverItLive will, in the interim, continue as separate services; they will eventually become a single, fully-integrated platform.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Vincent Mifsud, CEO, ScribbleLive

Showcasing Toronto's young gaming talent at Level Up

"One of the first things I did when I got here [in 2010]," says Emma Westecott, assistant professor of game design at OCAD University, "was try to find out who else was teaching games."

She found a kindred spirit in Steve Engels, a senior lecturer in computer science at the University of Toronto. They met, and they had their students meet, and "one of the things that became evident was that a lot of the games our students were making could be much better if they were working together." So they started doing just that, and it went well enough that they decided to set up a showcase at the end of that first year of collaboration.

It's four years later, and this past weekend Level Up marked its fourth instalment: an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional showcase of student work in gaming that allows graduating and senior students to show off their work, engage in a bit of friendly competition, and—crucially—meet potential employers.

This year more than a dozen institutions participated, and over 50 team projects were included in the showcase. Organizers estimate that 1,000 people attended—200 more than last year.

Why an off-campus showcase? "It became obvious to me that with a new subject matter," Westecott explains, "that working with community was the best way to build expertise."

Toronto has a well-established gaming sector—it's a growing and dynamic part of our local economy—and one key goal of Level Up is to help introduce students into that community, sniff out potential internship opportunities, and tap into a network that will help them as they leave school. It's also a great way to measure your progress.

"For our students, it helps them see what their games are like in comparison to what other games are being made; from potential employers' point of view, it makes it easier to see everyone in one place."

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Emma Westecott, Assistant Professor, Game Design, Digital Futures, OCAD University

Finalists announced for 2013 Canadian Startup Awards

For the third year, technology publication Techvibes is giving out awards to acknowledge the country's top new ventures and enterprises. The finalists for the 2013 Canadian Startup Awards were recently announced, and now it's up to you: the winners will be selected by the public, via an online vote. You can cast your ballot until midnight on January 19; the winners will be announced on January 20.

As usual, Toronto is well-represented among the finalists. Among the local ventures vying for awards are:

  • InteraXon: a technology company that creates products based on tools that read a person's brainwaves.
  • Music-messaging platform Rithm
  • Business-to-business marketing company Influitive, which closed a major round of funding this time last year
All of those were nominated for the most prominent award: overall startup of the year. Toronto's well-represented in other categories. Two local startups are also nominated for accelerator graduate of the year. Bionym, which came through Creative Destruction Lab and The Next 36, provides unique user identification tools based on a person's signature heartbeat. And ShopLocket, which graduated from Extreme Startups, provides easy-to-use tools to help retailers set up online stores.

Techvibes received over 2,500 nominations; editors whittled down to the list of finalists with public input as well. Launched in conjunction with KPMG, the Canadian Startup Awards are given out in six categories. Last year nearly 18,000 votes were cast. Wattpad won for best overall startup in 2011, and Indochino in 2012.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan

Design charette at Scadding Court envisions city's first container mall

A trip to Ghana in 2009 by a few self-funded Scadding Court-area teens is paying off, and in the process offering an excellent example of how rich countries can learn from poor ones.

"What we saw there were all kinds of rusted out containers where people were selling chicken, cutting hair," says Scadding Court Community Centre head Kevin Lee. "We came back to Toronto, there's so much under-utilized public space, like sidewalks that are three times the size they need to be, and on Dundas Street, economically depressed, with no eyes on the street…."

So now, there are 19 containers on Dundas just west of Bathurst, and a charette at the Scadding Court Community Centre on Tuesday brought together architects, designers, city planners, public health workers and community members to show and tell how that might be expanded into the city's first container mall.

The first container went up three years ago, very shortly after the group, of which Lee was a part, got back from Ghana. At first, it was just food, but it soon morphed into retail, including Stin Can, a bike repair shop run by two 19-year-olds, graduates of the Biz Start program who, according to Lee, were able to start up with just $2,000. (You may want to think about stopping by their container instead of your usual local.)

"What we're trying to do," Lee says, "is establish a template for the city of Toronto in terms of economic development at the grassroots level. Economic development doesn’t just mean trying to attract Google to move their head office to Toronto."

The city just found $80,000 to buy two or three new containers, according to Councillor Adam Vaughan, in whose ward the containers sit. Now they’re just waiting for a council vote on approvals, which could come as early as this week.

"You put 10 bureaucrats around a table, all it takes is one to say no to scrap things," Vaughan says from the floor of the charette. He says the original idea came from a private company who wanted to set up some containers on Queen West. Heritage Toronto nixed it, according to Vaughan, saying the only spot they could use was the parking lot at Queen and Phoebe, so the company dropped the idea.

The charette, and the community centre's central involvement, is a way, Vaughan hopes, to circumvent the usual impediments to Toronto ever having nice things. "What we're looking for here is a way to say yes."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Kevin Lee, Adam Vaughan

Toronto Startup Weekend coming August 9-11

Toronto is stocked with an increasing array of incubators, accelerators, mentorship programs, and commercialization programs. But how do you know if you're ready to apply and participate in those full-fledged programs? One way to find out: try out an idea in a low-risk environment, and garner reaction before you get too far along.

Would-be entrepreneurs will have the chance to do just that at Startup Weekend, coming to Toronto August 9-11. Startup Weekends run in cities across the world, organized by a non-profit of the same name, and the goal is simple: help someone launch a startup in just 54 hours.

This upcoming Toronto installment has a theme: education.

"The startup weekends are a movement of entrepreneurs across the world who want to get together and practice the startup process in a really compressed timeframe," explains MaRS education specialist Joseph Wilson, one of the event's co-organizers. "The EDU angle on it is that there's so much interest in the education entrepreneurship space that specific verticals of startup weekends [became appealing]."

Startup Weekend EDU will be the first sector-specific weekend in Toronto, and the first education-themed weekend in Canada. "Toronto and Ontario are very good relatively speaking in education," Wilson continues, "and this has informed the entrepreneurship scene in the city. In the last few years we've seen an explosion of ed tech companies...and there are even more in the water, which we're hoping to draw out with something like this."

The weekend is open to people with a wide variety of skill sets, ranging from developers to designers to educators. The weekend is structured progressively: at the outset anyone can pitch an idea, and then based on the strength of various pitches, teams form around the most promising and work through them throughout the weekend.

"You can't build a product" in a weekend, of course, Wilson concedes. But what you can do, "is push yourself to push out a prototype or a quick beta, to test the concept, to quickly test the idea in the most practical way possible." It's a form of crowdsourcing, in a way, except not to raise money but to establish an idea's viability.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Joseph Wilson, co-organizer, Startup Weekend EDU

Extreme Startups Now Accepting Applications

When Extreme Startups launched in early 2012, co-founder Sunil Sharma says it was with a very specific goal in mind: find "high potential, disruptive, early stage tech companies" and give investors a first crack at supporting them.  Formed by a collective of venture capitalists, the tech incubator's goal is to hone in on young companies with the best chances of success, and boost their odds further.

Applications are now open for the fourth cohort of participants in Extreme Startups. Each cohort consists of five companies; each company receives $50,000 up front, mentorship, and streamlined access to more than $150,000 funding (through the Business Development Bank of Canada and the Ontario Centres for Excellence) once they have completed the 12 week program. 

In exchange, Extreme Startups gets a ten per cent stake in each company, distributed across the venture capitalists who make up Extreme's investors (the distribution of equity varies in each case).

We asked Dale Millstein, a visiting associate at Extreme Startups, what advice he had for potential applicants. "Apply!" he said. "It sounds pretty simple, but most people are afraid."

Whether or not an applicant is chosen, he says, going through that process is worthwhile. Extreme's goal is to foster community, and applying helps get new companies' names out, and exposes them to opportunities that may bear fruit later on.

As for who is likely to make the cut, Millstein says, the selection committee will be especially "looking at the quality of the team and technology talent," something he identifies as particularly important for younger companies with little experience in the marketplace.

Extreme Startups is accepting applications for this round of investment until August 9, 2013.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Sources: Dale Millstein, visiting associate, and Funil Sharma co-founder, Extreme Startups

Who's Hiring in Toronto? Penguin, Jane Goodall Institute, and more

In the world of books, major publishing house Penguin is hiring a digital and social media coordinator to both maintain their websites and work on engagement campaigns. Also the literary sector, the Ontario Arts Council is looking for a literature officer to help manage their grants programs. The post is for a five-year term.

Hart House, the cultural hub at the University of Toronto's downtown campus, is looking for an education and production coordinator for a 10-month contract to provide support to their theatre programming. Finally, the Canadian Opera Company is seeking an assistant music librarian. It requires a strong background in music and familiarity with standard office computer programs.

UNITY, a charity that works to empower youth through artistic self-expression, has three posts available. They are hiring a program coordinator, a festival & volunteer coordinator, and a managing director, operations. Contracts, qualifications, and salaries vary per posting. 

If you're interested in urban agriculture, non-profit Cultivate Toronto is looking for a community relationship manager. The organization focuses on creating food gardens in people's front and back yards, and the position involves developing and maintaining relationships with program participants.

In technology jobs, the Ontario Public Service is on the hunt for a senior interactive developer with significant experience working with open source technologies and platforms.

And finally, in leadership positions, the Jane Goodall Institute is looking for a new CEO. The position requires experience both in conservation and in financial management, and they are hoping to find a billingual candidate. Among environmental groups, think tank Pembina is looking for a single candidate to split their time between two functions: director of development for the Pembina Institute, and exective director for the associated Pembina Foundation.

Know of any innovative job opportunities? Let us know!

Who's Hiring in Toronto? ArtsSmarts, Harbourfront and more

The most interesting opportunities we've spotted this week:

Harbourfront Centre is looking for an integrated communications specialist. It's a fulltime contract position for someone to develop marketing and media plans--both strategy and implementation.

Also in the cultural sector is ArtsSmarts, which helps organize classroom-based arts education programs. They are on the hunt for a project coordinator to help with several programs. It's an early (but not entry) level position, and the post is a nine-month contract.

Finally in this area, WorkInCulture, which supports career development in the cultural sector (in fact, it's the source of those previous two job listings) is seeking a marketing and communications manager; the position is permanent and fulltime.

MaRS Discovery District has a video production unit, which creates event and promotional videos for MaRS and its clients. They need a production/post-production manager to oversee this work and provide strategic advice as necessary. Meanwhile, the Mozilla Foundation is hiring a web developer with at least two years of experience.

For those with an interest in the environment, the Georgian Bay Land Trust needs a new executive director. The position is based in Toronto, but does require frequent travel to Georgian Bay. The charity is hoping to find someone with five to ten years experience, preferably in a non-profit.

In the social services sector, the Jane/Finch Community Centre is looking for a program manager for their Women Moving Forward initiative, a poverty-reduction program for mothers in their twenties. The centre is also looking for a mobilie community financial worker. This position is for someone who works from a variety of locations in the community providing financial management education.

Finally, the Ministry of Transportation is looking for a communications lead to oversee stakeholder and public engagement for the PanAm Games. It's a senior, temporary position that will run for up to two years.

Are you hiring or do you know of a great job opportunity? Let us know!

Who's Hiring in Toronto? Twitter, CivicAction, and more

The most interesting of the job opportunities we've come across this week:

News broke this week that Kirstine Stewart, executive vice-president of English-language services at the CBC, was leaving that position to spearhead Twitter's first Canadian office. She's not the only person they're hiring: the social media company is currently on the lookout for an account executive and an account manager.

Also in tech openings, digital ad agency Dare Toronto is looking for a front end web developer with 4-5 years experience. Another firm, Usability Matters, is on the hunt for a graphic designer.

The Women's Healthy Environment Network works on promoting environmental health. They are looking for a volunteer, part-time executive director to lead their board.

In the cultural sector, the Ontario Public Service is looking for a senior program consultant to work in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and specifically to work on major events and festivals. Canada Arts Connect is seeking a managing editor for their magazine about Canadian cultural news. It's a part-time position--about 10-15 hours per week. And the Toronto International Film Festival continues its spate of seasonal hiring: they are now on the hunt for a senior marketing coordinator for a contract that runs from May through early October.

CivicAction, the non-partisan advocacy group dedicated to city-building in the GTA, is seeking a project manager to manage the development of new programs directed at youth facing challenges in finding employment. The post is for a nine month contract.

Also in urban initiatives, non-profit developer Artscape is looking for a development associate to help with three of their major annual fundraising events.

Finally, the Toronto Society of Architects is hiring an executive administrator with some scheduling flexibility (ranging from 20-40 hours per week) to oversee their day-to-day operations.

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. 

Who's Hiring in Toronto? MaRS, the YWCA, the municipal government and more

The most interesting of the job openings we've come across this week:

Toronto incubator MaRS is on the hunt for a communications associate for a six-month internship. The work would be both print and online, and applicants must be registered with the CareerEdge program.

Business for the Arts is a national organization that tries to build closer relationships between those two sectors. They are looking for a part-time graphic and web designer to handle design and layout work on their program and event materials. Also in this sector, East End Arts (a new organization in that part of town) is seeking a managing director.

If you're interested in sustainable city-building, the municipal government is hiring a coordinator for Smart Commute to help create and implement programs to highlight alternatives to traveling by car.

In other environmental positions, Greenpeace is hiring a finance director to join their senior management team.

The Ontario Nonprofit Network (as their name indicates) focuses on strengthening the non-profit sector here. They are looking for a policy specialist to spearhead talks with the provincial government about funding reform for the sector. It's a one year contract and the position is senior.

Finally, a few social service positions of note. The YWCA is hiring a community engagement worker to help provide support around mental health concerns. The Canadian Women's Foundation is on the lookout for a new marketing coordinator to oversee the logistics of their print and online campaigns. And the Canadian Cancer Society is looking to fill several posts, including a new coordinator of volunteer engagement.

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. 

Who's Hiring in Toronto? Social Enterprise Toronto, TIFF, Small Change Fund and more

Some of the neatest jobs we've come across this week...

International conservation organization World Wildlife Fund is looking for a digital content strategist. Working as part of the marketing and communications team, the successful candidate will both develop strategy and write content for a variety of platforms.

Also in the environmental sector is the Small Change Fund, which helps communities working on sustainability issues. They are on the lookout for a new operations manager. And one last one in this area: the Canada Green Building Council needs a new education manager to oversee the creation, marketing, and delivery of the organization's educational programs.

Planned Parenthood Toronto is seeking a director of community health services to manage clinical functions, and participate in organization-wide strategic development. Applicants should have at least five years of clinical experience and have a demonstrated commitment to PPT's equity goals.

Social Enterprise Toronto is a network that aims to support the growth of the social enterprise sector in Toronto. They need a community researcher to collect and process data, and to help them plan a forthcoming conference. There's an age requirement on this one: you must be between 15 and 30 years old to apply.

If you are just starting out and love flim, the Toronto International Film Festival has a four-month communications internship opportunity for someone to work in their press office this summer. And if national history is more your thing, the Historica-Dominica Institute has a number of positions now open, ranging from web officers to subject editors for the Canadian Encyclopedia.

And here is one more community organization looking for a lot of summer help: The Stop, which is a food-oriented non-profit that does everything from run cooking classes to build community gardens. You can see the many seasonal positions they have available here.

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. 

CSI launches crowdfunding platform for social entrepreneurs

For nine years, the Centre for Social Innovation has been exploring new ways of building communities of common interest--though shared workspaces, incubation, and developing supportive networks to help social entrepreneurs learn and flourish. The next step in CSI's community-building efforts: a new crowdfunding platform dedicated specifically to social entrepreneurs, called CSI Catalyst. (If you're not familiar with the term, "social entrepreneurship" just means using entrepreneurial approaches to develop organizations that bring about social change. Social enterprises in Toronto range from urban farming collectives to arts groups.)
Catalyst is not unlike other crowdfunding platforms you may be familiar with, such as Kickstarter. One difference, says CSI CEO Tonya Surman, is that this is a homegrown system: "It's actually a Canadian one, takes Canadian dollars, runs Canadian transactions." More broadly, organizations need to be CSI members either by joining their online network or by being tenants in one of their physical spaces, which, says Surman, is key. CSI's theory is that by starting with organizations who are already in their network, and thus are able to access other kinds of support and acceleration services, projects are more likely to do well.

According to their research, only 40 per cent of projects on crowdfunding platforms in general are actually getting funded; improving on that metric on Catalyst is one of CSI's main goals. "There's a real question of quality control" with the bigger crowdfunding platforms, says Surman.

Because CSI maintains an online network in addition to its shared workspaces (there are three locations in Toronto and one in New York), Catalyst will eventually be available to organizations across North America. Requiring membership isn't meant to be a major hurdle, in other words, so much as a tool for ensuring that participating projects are ones that are in a good position to do well.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Tonya Surman, CEO, Centre for Social Innovation

FedDev Ontario investing $18 million in 24 GTA projects

Recently the federal government announced that it will be supporting two dozen innovation projects in and around Toronto, via the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

"This investment will boost business innovation, skills and product development in the Toronto area," said Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear when announcing the investment, "creating new full-time jobs and greater economic diversity within the region."

FedDev's contribution to the projects comes via a variety of the agency's funds, and will total approximately $18 million, roughly $13 million of the total investment is in the form of repayable contributions. The recipient projects have leveraged this government money to generate up to $55 million more from private sector investors. According to FedDev estimates, the projects are expected to lead to the creation of more than 800 local jobs.

A sampling of investment recipients: 

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Office of Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology

Business-to-business marketing startup Influitive closes $7.3 million in funding

It was nearly two years ago that Yonge Street first told you about B2B marketing company Influitive. The company was just getting ready for the beta launch of its advocacy-based platform, and like all startups, nobody was quite sure how things would go.

Very well, it turns out. Just before the holidays, the company announced that it has closed $7.3 million in Series A financing. The funding is coming from Hummer Winblad and Relay Ventures, along with some support from existing investors, and will go towards further development of the company's platform. They are also hiring: at 18 staff members now, Influitive currently has four positions they are trying to fill, and anticipate further hiring later this year.

Influitive, headquartered in both Toronto and San Francisco, is making its name with AdvocateHub, a marketing platform which relies on customer reviews, referrals, and engagement. Companies encourage their best customers to sign up; those participants then become advocates for the companies and brands they like, and in return those advocates receive benefits from the companies they've recommended. The idea is that these recommendations can be especially trusted because the advocates are motivated by receiving services from the very companies they are endorsing -- and why would you go to the trouble if you didn't think those services were valuable?

The company is clearly on a roll: as the Financial Post reports, they closed an earlier round of funding—$3.75 million—just four months ago.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Influitive
50 Queen/King West Articles | Page: | Show All
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