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Innovation + Job News

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New pan-Canadian incubator launches with major local partners

On Monday, the federal government announced that it was making new a five year, $10.7 million investment into the creation of new pan-Canadian incubator led by Ryerson University. 

The downtown university will join the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) to create so-called Zones of Innovation and Incubation (ZI2).     

"The principle focus of the network will be on leveraging research from all three universities to promote commercialization, creation of new companies and jobs," said Wendy Cukier, Ryerson University's vice president of research and innovation. "But we’re also extremely committed to driving innovation within existing companies and organizations."

According to Cukier, the incubators will be focused on digital technology and gaming.

"When we’re talking about things like gaming, we’re not just talking about games for entertainment: we’re talking about games for education, for enhancing healthcare and for training more broadly," she said. "The potential of the technologies that are being tested, commercialized and spun off to transform a number of sectors—healthcare, financial services, entertainment and manufacturing—is quite significant." 

Cukier believes that the network could have a transformative effect on the city. 

"Toronto has an ambitions to be one the leading centres of innovation in North America, and indeed there is a lot of data that suggests that it already is in terms of startups," said Cukier. "But I think this also strengthens Toronto’s ambition to be an intelligent, digitally-enabled city. This initiative will not only help sharpen the focus on our digital innovation corridor, but also result in the development of new approaches that could potentially be transformative." 

Source: Ryerson University

Who's hiring in Toronto? HarperCollins, Toronto Community Housing, Spoke Club and more...

Book publisher HarperCollins is hiring a publicist on a one year contract. The company is looking for an outgoing individual who has two to three years of experience in the public relations field. Important day-to-day duties include contacting media outlets to secure reviews and interviews, as well as assisting in the planning and execution of any publicity tours the publisher's author may need to embark upon. Interested applicants should apply by emailing dianne(dot)aquilina(at)hapercollins(dot com).  

Toronto Community Housing has a one-year maternity leave position open in its media and public relations department. Responsibilities associated with this director position involve managing all the day-to-day media interactions TCHC and its subsidiaries need to engage in. As this is a senior position, the organization is looking for someone with at least eight years of relevant experience. Applications should be submitted by April 1.  

The Spoke Club is seeking an administrative assistant to help within its membership department. This is an entry-level position that will see the individual that takes on the role assist the club's membership manager with data entry and day-to-day administrative and clerical duties. The club is looking for someone with one to three years of prior administrative experience. Additionally, they would like someone that possesses the usual qualities associated with good administrators—excellent time management skills, strong oral and written skills as well as good research skills. The deadline to apply is March 30.  

Finally, on the tech side of things, retail intelligence startup Askuity is looking to add multiple members to its team. They're hiring an inside sales account director, a technical consultant and a customer success manager. Check out the postings to get an exact feel for each position. The company's office is located near Spadina and Adelaide, and they recently secured a $1.8-million Seed round. The deadline to apply for all three positions is the 31st of this month. 

Do you know of a job opportunity with an innovative company or organization? Let us know!

Provincial government creates new advisory committee for community hubs

The provincial government is attempting to put a new focus on Ontario's communities. 

On Friday, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that she had formed a new Community Hub Framework Advisory Group, and that she had appointed its first advisor. Karen Pitre, a former executive with Metrolinx and the Toronto District School Board, was announced as the committee's chair. Additional advisors will be named to the group over the next couple of weeks, according to the government.   

The mandate of the group is to advise the Liberals on how to turn existing public assets into community hubs.  

The provincial government defines a community hub as a public space that helps deliver educational, health and social services. The government will consult with Ontarians and foster partnerships with community organizations as it tries to find the best way to deliver its services to children, youth and seniors.
 "The work of the advisory group will do so much to inform our government’s approach to establishing community hubs," said Premier Wynne. "We want Ontario to be the best place to work, live and raise a family, and community hubs are a part of that vision.”  

Source: Government of Ontario

Ontario to start issuing new high-tech birth certificates

Ontario's birth certificate is about to enter into the 21st century.

Like Canada's recently-reworked bank notes, the upcoming refresh of the province's birth certificate will take advantage of high-tech polymers and innovative new security features to create a document that is supposed to be both more durable and more difficult to counterfeit. Some of those new security features include print that is raised and colour-shifting images.

According to the provincial government, the new certificate should “last a lifetime” under normal circumstances, which is probably a good thing since the government issues some 200,000 birth certificates each year. Children born on and after April 15, 2015 will be the first to receive the new certificates. For those that are old enough to be able to read this article, there's no need to replace your current birth certificate; all existing birth certificates will continue to be valid.

“I am always looking for ways our government can help make everyday life easier for Ontarians, and these new polymer birth certificates do just that,” said Premier Kathleen Wynne in the press release that followed the annoucement. “Having a safe and durable birth certificate will provide more security and help protect people from fraud and identify theft.”

Source: Government of Ontario

Who's hiring in Toronto? War Child Canada, FreshBooks, OneEleven and more...

Some of the more interesting employment opportunities we've spotted this week include:

Toronto accounting startup Freshbooks is hiring across several positions. They're looking to add a director of business intelligence, a systems administrator, a director of development, a software development team lead, a senior software developer, a creative director and a senior UX designer to their team. The company raised a $30-million Series A round last summer and moved into a fancy new office located at 1655 Dupont St.

OneEleven is hiring a new community manager. According to its posting, the Richmond Street startup accelerator is looking for someone who “cares deeply” about Canada's tech community, is a self-starter and has an entrepreneurial mindset. As for responsibilities, some of the more interesting duties include conducting tours of the its office and putting together events. The deadline to apply is April 4.

War Child Canada is looking for marketing manager. The organization's ideal candidate is someone with three to five years of marketing experience. Additionally, being well-versed in the best practices specific to different social media platforms is important. Responsibilities are split between creating creative content and branding, managing marketing and advertising campaigns, and leading the organization's digital marketing and social media efforts. Applications must be submitted by March 20.

Finally, for all the masochists out there, the Ripley's Aquarium is hiring a birthday and events coordinator. Help the aquarium book birthday parties, weekly weekend parties, assist in training staff, and conducting site tours, all for a modest $13 an hour. The deadline to apply for March 22.

Do you know of a job opportunity with an innovative company or organization? Let us know!

Square Inc. acquires Toronto-based Kili Technology

A Toronto company is joining one of Silicon Valley's hottest startups.

On March 11, mobile-payment startup Square Inc. announced that it had acquired Kili Technology for an undisclosed amount. The North York-based company specializes in creating point-of-sale and payment-processing hardware.

“They have an experienced technology team who, like our sellers, are relentless innovators and never satisfied,” said Jesse Dorogusker, Square's hardware lead, in a press release issued by the company. “Together we’ll continue to lead the way in delivering simple and affordable hardware that gives our sellers a smarter and safer way to do business.”

The Kili team will remain in Toronto; the space they were working from will start to serve as Square's second Canadian office. Square opened its first Canadian office in Kitchener-Waterloo last year.

Square was co-founded by Jim McKelvey and Jack Dorsey in 2009. The latter is best known as the creator of Twitter.

Source: Square

Who's hiring in Toronto? The Drake Hotel, Top Drawer Creative and Automattic...

Some of the more interesting employment opportunities we've spotted this week include:

The Drake Hotel is hiring a public relations manager on a 12-month contract to help the hotel while its current PR manager is away on maternity leave. The person that takes on this role will be responsible for continuing and building upon the Drake's already in place PR initiatives. According to the job positing on its website, three years of publicity experience is required to be considered for the position, and those with public relations experience in the hospitality, food and beverage or nightlight industries will be preferred. The deadline to apply is March 20.  

Top Drawer Creative, a local ad agency that focuses on working with companies that have a social good aspect to their business, is seeking to fill multiple positions. The firm is hiring a content and community manager, an account executive, and a communications manager. The deadline to apply for the first two positions is this Friday; the deadline for the third position is April 5.   

Mobile developers that would like to ply their trade for a slightly different organization are in luck. The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research is looking for a mobile web developer to help create front-end webpages for the organization's researchers. Experience working with the iOS and Android SDKs are required (sorry, Windows Phone evangelists). Additionally, experience working with JavaScript libraries like Mantle and JQuery Mobile is also a must. There's no definitive deadline on this one; the OICR will keep the positing up until it fills the position.  

Lastly, Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, is hiring across multiple positions. All told, they're looking to fill 14 positions. If the prospect of never having to wear another a pair of pants to work is appealing to you, then check out the company's job board; although Automattic was started in San Francisco, its more than 300 current employees all work from home, and are located in 36 different countries.   

Do you know of a job opportunity with an innovative company or organization? Let us know!

Ryerson Digital Media Zone and MasterCard launch Women in Entrepreneurship program

On March 8th, International Women's Day, the Ryerson Digital Media Zone (DMZ), in partnership with MasterCard's YES: Youth in Entrepreneurial Success initiative, started accepting applications to its new Women in Entrepreneurship program. The program will see six female-led startups admitted into the DMZ where they will be able to work on their company. 

Each startup will also receive $5,000 in cash, as well as $5,000 to go toward their stay at the DMZ. According to Valerie Fox, the Digital Media Zone's executive director, the six startups that enter the DMZ through the program will receive all of the services the accelerator has to offer, including the ability to take part in the events and workshops that are held there, as well as access to its network of mentors and investors. 

As for the criteria the DMZ will use to select the startups, Fox says its the same one the accelerator already has in place for other companies. “We’re looking for people that are highly innovative, passionate and that are going to push the envelope," she says. "But we’re also looking for people that are collaborative and that are going to give back to the community as much as they receive from it.” 

Additionally, according to the press release the DMZ sent out to announce the program, the accelerator is particularly interested in startups that specialize in the areas of electronic payments, e-commerce, loyalty points, cyber security or financial security.

The initiative is, of course, aimed at helping address tech longstanding gender issue. "We live in a diverse world. You need women, as well as men," says Fox. "Does it have to be 50/50? I don’t believe so, but I do believe that getting more women involved is important; giving women the opportunity to be entrepreneurial is beneficial to everyone." 

Startups that are interested in the program—and meet its requirements—can apply on the Digital Media Zone's website. The deadline to apply is April 6. 

Source: Digital Media Zone
Photo: Mark Blinch

Led by ChipCare, three Toronto startups secure significant investment

It was a good week for Toronto's startup ecosystem as three of the city's startups announced that they had secured significant outside investment. 

On Wednesday, Pressly, a company that's responsible for a unique content curation and marketing platform, sent out a press release that said it had completed a $2.1 million Series A round. Similarly on the same day, Vanhawks, which wowed the Kickstarter community with its futuristic, smartphone connected Valour bike last year, announced that it had secured a $1.6 million seed round. 

The biggest catch, however, was accomplished by ChipCare, a University of Toronto-based healthcare startup. The company announced last week that it had closed a $5 million Series A round. The company's upcoming product, a portable device that monitors the concentration of t-cells in a HIV patient for a fraction of the cost of traditional diagnostic methods, was so impressive to investors that the company was able to raise more money than it had intended to do so.    

According to James Fraser, ChipCare's CEO, the cash his company has just secured will go towards completing work on their initial HIV scanner and to take the scanner through verification and clinical trails. He says the company hopes to start shipping in the second half of 2016. He also adds that they have plans to build a scanner than can track and monitor other diseases such as malaria.   

"We’re a small UofT startup and, while we’re gaining momentum, we wouldn’t gotten here without the support of Grand Challenges Canada and the Ontario government through the Ontario Centres of Excellence," says Fraser. "Both the federal and provincial government, the University of Toronto and MaRS Innovation are working really hard to help build an ecosystem of innovation here. I think they deserve kudos" 

Source: MaRS
Photo: ChipCare

MaRS launches new fintech cluster

Toronto has long been the financial capital of Canada, and with the help of MaRS and the city's fintech startups it may soon become the country's financial technology capital as well.

Last Tuesday, MaRS announced the launch of a new fintech cluster as well as a series of strategic partnerships with major financial institutions like PayPal, UGO and Moneris Solutions. The initiative, which is being led by Adam Nanjee, the former vice president of business development in emerging payments at MasterCard Canada, aims to create a place where the country's fintech startups, financial institutions and venture capitalists can meet, collaborate and innovate on new technologies.

“Over the past year or so we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of entrepreneurs from coast to coast, but particularly in Toronto, building technologies that solve financial sector problems,” says Nanjee. “The purpose of this cluster is to be a bridge for those entrepreneurs, as well as for financial institutions and for the Canadian and international venture capital community.”

PayPal, which is one of the main partners in the cluster, will lend its support to the effort by bringing its 2015 BattleHack hackathon to MaRS in July, and by hosting a segment of its Commerce Factory meet ups in Toronto.

Although MaRS only launched the initiative last week, Nanjee expects the country's major financial institutions to take notice quickly. “I think we're going to see more momentum from traditional financial institutions,” says Nanjee. “We're going to start to see a real thirst for innovation and entrepreneurship from the Canadian banks and credit card companies, as well as from even more traditional financial institutions like insurance companies.”

Startups can register for the program at www.marsdd.com/fintech.

Source: MaRS
Photo courtesy of MaRS Discovery District.

Toronto startup creates impossible-to-lose wallet

This past September, Kickstarter celebrated its one year anniversary in Canada. In the year leading up to that date, Canadians pledged $24,140,424 to the more than 3,650 projects that found their way onto the platform. Among its first year big winners were campaigns like The Tar Sands Reporting Project and the Corner Gas movie, but few Canadian companies were as prolific on the platform as Toronto-based MIJLO.

Following the crowdfunding success of its Better Backpack and Everyday Watch, MIJLO returned to Kickstarter this past week with its most recent effort, Where's Wallet.

Where's Wallet is a wallet that, according to MIJLO founder Daniel Eckler, is impossible to lose. Using a combination of a sensor within the wallet and a downloadable mobile app, Where's Wallet will alert its owner if they're ever separated from one another.

It's also a simple accessory piece that's stylish without making a bold fashion statement, says Eckler.

Indeed, if there's something that ties together MIJLO's seemingly disparate group of offerings, it's an emphasis on simplicity and on creating a product that will last a lifetime. According to Eckler, it's a philosophy he was inspired to burrow from renowned Japanese retailer Muji—which, coincidently, recently opened its first location in Toronto.

“They take an approach that is simple and refined. There also have a philosophy behind their business that believes people should live simply,” he says. “I decided I wanted to found a company that had similar values.”

He goes on to add, “What ties all our products together is that each one can easily be the one product a person buy in a specific category and something that they'll be able to use and keep for a long time.”

As of the writing of this post, the Where's Wallet campaign has 29 days left to go and it has already raised $25,355 of its $30,000 goal. It seems MIJLO is doing something right. 

Source: MIJLO

Who's hiring in Toronto? Upverter, Toronto Atmospheric Fund, National Ballet of Canada and more...

Some of the more interesting employment opportunities we've spotted this week include:

Local startup Upverter is seeking an events and community manager. According to its posting on the Ladies Learning Code job board, the company is looking for a person that's passionate about entrepreneurship, has experience running events and marketing campaigns and has a knack for making people feel like they're part of a community. If that describes you, drop the company a line at jobs(at)upverter(dot com), telling them why you're a perfect fit.

The Toronto Atmospheric Fund is hiring a WordPress master. Those that turn their attention to the organization's posting on the Centre for Social Innovation's job board will find a single paragraph that asks, “Can you help set up a back-end system to manage a website using wordpress [sic], and develop a manual and training sessions for laypeople, so that they can manage their own site using wordpress [sic]?” If the answer to those two questions is yes, then contact Mary Pickering at (416) 392-1217 to inquire about the position.

The National Ballet of Canada is also looking for a digital native to help them with their web needs; they're searching for a web and digital media coordinator. The catch with this position is that the company's ideal candidate will not only be experienced with HTML, CSS and JavaScript, but will also have experience with multimedia editing tools like Final Cut Pro and Photoshop, as well as content marketing tools like Wordify and Kentico. Check out their posting for more details. The deadline to apply is March 4.

Finally, for those that find the prospect of staring at an email client all day thrilling, the Canadian Red Cross is hiring an email marketing coordinator. The person that takes on this role will be responsible for leading all of the organization's email marketing efforts. Duties include working with various departments within the Red Cross to ensure that their outbound copy is clean, concise and easy to read, as well as constantly monitoring and improving upon the organization's content marketing efforts. One to two years of experience in a related position is a must. The deadline to apply is March 17.

Do you know of a job opportunity with an innovative company or organization? Let us know!


Structural Genomics Consortium gets major cancer-preventing donation

One of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world decided to mark World Cancer Day, February 4, with a significant monetary contribution towards finding new ways to combat the deadly disease.

On Wednesday, Merck Canada announced that is donating $7.5-million to the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC).

The SGC, which is based in the MaRS Discovery District, is a not-for-profit public-private partnership led by the University of Toronto and Oxford University. Its main goal is to promote medical breakthroughs by creating a database of open sourced research that can be accessed by almost any organization or company.

Not to be outdone, the Government of Ontario also announced a significant investment on the same day. The provincial government said it will give the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) a four-year, $6.4-million grant to research new ways in which to increase screening rates for colon cancer and to decrease the harm chemotherapy inflicts upon patients, among other things.

To date the provincial government has invested $756.9-million toward cancer research.

“Ontario is proud to support the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, which is working with key partners on ground-breaking research that is leading to very real benefits for Ontarians fighting cancer,” said Reza Moridi, Ontario's minister of research and innovation, in the press release that followed the announcement. “This investment will help the OICR get their discoveries out of the lab faster, improving both prevention and treatment and making a difference in people’s lives.”

Not a bad day in the fight against cancer.

Source: MaRS and University of Toronto. 
Photo: Courtesy of CNW Group/Merck

Who's hiring in Toronto? Evergreen Canada, MaRS, Telus

Some of the more interesting employment opportunities we've spotted this week include:

Evergreen Canada is hiring a marketing and communications director. At least 10 years of marketing, communications or public relations experience is required to be considered for this role. Check out the organization's posting on their website for a truly comprehensive overview of all the duties and requirements that go along with this role. The deadline to apply is February 27.

For all the digital natives out there, Telus is seeking a product manager to oversee the company's adherence to online and digital best practices.This individual will be responsible for ensuring all of the company's customer-facing software is intuitive, elegant and easy to use. Three to five years of experience working with a digital firm is a must—though other qualifications, like having done a bootcamp through HackerYou, will be considered an asset, so there's that.

Normally we try to avoid posting about internships here, but this week brings with it a set that look worthwhile (read: they actually pay). MaRS is currently accepting applications for its summer internship program. University students can apply to work for one of the organization's many departments, including its Solutions Lab and its business acceleration program. The internships run from May 4 to August 21. Applications are due February 16. Check out MaRS's careers website for the full list of internships.

Those between the ages of 18 and 30 will also want to check out the Studio [Y] program at MaRS. This intensive, nine month fellowship puts 25 individuals through a comprehensive curriculum on so-called 21st century skills. Participants are taught things like critical and entrepreneurial thinking, and are then asked to apply those skills while working on projects with real-world partners. The program provides its fellows with a $20,000 stipend so that access is not an issue. Check out the Studio [Y] website to learn more about this groundbreaking program and to find out what's required to apply. Applications are being accepted until March 16.

Do you know of a job opportunity with an innovative company or organization? Let us know!

Toronto startup is launching an online marketplace for bartering

Imagine you have an old bike you want to get rid of and, instead of selling it for $50, you have the opportunity to trade it for some rare albums you want for your record collection,” says Sascha Darius Mojtahedi.

“Wouldn't it be great if someone really wanted that bike and you could get something for it in return?”

What Mojtahedi is purposing is that I take money out of the equation and barter away my beloved fixie for something else. As an idea, bartering is one of the oldest in the book. It's also the concept that Mojtahedi and his co-workers at Shufl, a Toronto-based startup, are building their company around.

“A lot of companies innovate on new ideas, but we wanted to innovate on a really old one,” he says.

Once Shufl becomes available later this year, users will find a local online marketplace where they can trade their unwanted items for things they want. In fact, according Mojahedi, Shufl is first and foremost built and designed to help users find a compelling reason to complete transactions without the use of money—though, of course, they'll still be able to use cash if they so desire.

In creating Shufl, Mojahedi says his team's goal was to help people discover new found liquidity in the items they already own.

“There’s a large underground community that is already bartering,” he says. “They’re very active, but because what they're doing is viewed as being less sexy, it's never been allocated the same respect from a platform perspective as more traditional tractions.”

It's his hope that Shufl is able to change that.

The service is set to become available to the public in May. In the meantime, those that are keen on checking out the platform can sign up to take part in the company's beta.

Source: Shufl 
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