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Brampton : Innovation + Job News

11 Brampton 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

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

New VentureStart program aims to bring 905 innovation to market with $5-million boost from feds

Mississauga's Research Innovation Commercialization (RIC) Centre announced the launch of its VentureStart program last week. The program will help entrepreneurs and innovators in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon launch their businesses with training and matching seed financing grants of up to $30,000.

In announcing the program, Pam Banks, executive director of the RIC Centre, said "it adds another dimension to our services in helping emerging entrepreneurs shorten the path to market success." The RIC Centre was launched in 2008 to support and incubate innovative businesses in the Peel region, and claims to have since helped more than 150 companies get their start; RIC stats show 46 per cent of those companies have gone on to find funding.

VentureStart got its own seed financing from the federal government, which provided a grant of just under $5 million to launch the program. Gary Goodyear, the minister in charge of FedDev, said that fostering innovation through grants like this one will lead to new jobs and a higher quality of life.

"How do we improve lives, create jobs and economic growth? Innovation. Our government recognizes the importance of investing in the ideas of graduates and providing them with the skills necessary to become innovators and successful entrepreneurs," Goodyear said in his statement. "Because innovation is about finding a solution to a problem, taking that idea and bringing it to market and getting it adopted by customers."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Stephanie Thomas, office of Gary Goodyear; RIC Centre

Brampton Civic Hospital launches Ontario's first Intermediate Care Unit

Brampton Civic Hospital last month became the first community hospital in Ontario to employ an around-the-clock "intensivist" physician, who will provide care in the hospital's new eight-bed Surgical Intermediate Care Unit.

The unit will serve patients who need more care than is available in a regular ward but not intensive care, according to a statement by BCU executive VP Liz Buller.

"Positioned solidly between the care received on the wards and the most intensive care levels, [the intermediate care unit] gives additional support to address the needs of surgical patients," says Buller.

An intensivist is a specialist in critical care like that typically available in intensive care units. The first-in-Ontario intermediate care innovations are part of an ongoing expansion of Brampton Civic Hospital that includes adding operating rooms and capacity in orthopedic and general surgery units.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Harpreet Hansra for Brampton Civic Hospital

Owens-Illionois to hire 20 with innovative retooling of Brampton plant

In a move that company vice-president Ryan Modlin heralded as signalling "a vibrant future for glass packaging in Ontario" Owens-Illinois (O-I) announced earlier this month that it would be undertaking an innovative update of its Brampton glass manufacturing facility. Company spokesperson Beth Peery says the plant will be seeing $29 million in updates and innovation upgrades to add capabilities.

The updates are to add new capabilities to the plant's product offerings, make the building more sustainable and, it was announced, would add 20 new jobs to the existing staff of 314 as part of a financing deal with the provincial government. Peery says that since those numbers were agreed to and announced, the company has already exceeded hired more than twice as many new staff as had been expected.

The global glass manufacturer's GTA factory produces glass bottles for the LCBO, among other things, and the changes at the plant should add the capability to create more colours and styles of bottles ncedin line with sustainability efforts to create more lightweight packaging. The company will also update the heating at the facility to make it more energy efficient.

The move was heralded by spokespeople for the provincial government -- who are preparing for an election -- in a statement crediting favourable tax benefits to the company and an $8.8 million loan to the expansion effort.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Beth Peery, O-I; Lauren Tedesco, Ontario Ministry of Economic Development

8 GTA cultural orgs get over $2.76 million to build diversity infrastructure

In a move that provincial Minister of Tourism and Culture says will help the province's "diverse cultural communities" and contribute to the economic development of the province, his government has given grants totalling slightly more than $2.76 million to eight Greater Toronto Area cultural organizations.

The grants are part of the province's Community Capital Fund, administered by the Trilium Foundation, which is a $50 million pool of grants specifically designed to help non-profit organizations who serve "diverse cultural communities." According to a spokesperson, the funding is explicitly designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

This round of grants go to the following GTA groups:

Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention: $49,600 to renovate its Financial District office

Catholic Family Services Peel Dufferin: $310,400 to retrofit its Brampton location to begin offering services to abused families in 12 languages as well as specialized services for South Asians

Dejinta Beesha Somali Multi Service Centre: $409,100 for a designated office and programming space in Rexdale

J.H. Chinese Professionals Association of Canada: $342,200 for classroom and counselling space for its programs serving skilled foreign-trained professionals

Parya Trillium Foundation: $439,200 to transform its Markham office building into a community service centre for the region's Farsi-speaking community

Sampradaya Dance Creations:
$233,800 for the South Asian dance company to expand its performance and training space in Mississauga

Sanatan Mandir Cultural Centre: $500,000 to build an addition onto its Markham community centre serving the Hindu and Indian communities (read more details in our Development News section here)

The Church of the Virgin Mary and Saint Athanasius
: $500,000 to build a recreation and wellness centre for Arabic speaking seniors in Dufferin County

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Alexis Mantell, Ontario Trillium Foundation

Brampton launches Zum, its first bus rapid transit service, expansion contunues through 2021

Environmentally friendly Xcelsior hybrid buses began zooming through the streets of Brampton this week with the launch of Zum, the city's first Bus Rapid Transit service at the new Brampton Transit Bramalea Terminal. Service along Queen Street in downtown Brampton to York University began this week, with further lines being constructed right through until 2021.

"Zum will not only bring jobs to our city through the construction, operation and maintenance of the service, but it will also make it easier for our citizens to get to their jobs, their schools, and their other commitments within Brampton and throughout the GTA," said Brampton mayor Susan Fennell in a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony. In addition to job creation, she noted the environmental benefits and the improvement to the quality of life of residents in her rapidly growing city.

The $285 million cost of the rapid transit construction is being shared equally by the provincial, federal and Brampton city governments.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Ian Newman, Office of the Mayor of Brampton

Innovation-driving mentorship program at Loblaw will hire 1,000 by 2014

At Canada's largest grocery retail chain, innovation is not always driven by big ideas, according to human resources Executive VP Judy McCrie. "Often it is the small suggestions that have the greatest impact," she says. And a university-graduate hiring program at Loblaw Companies aims to help find those small suggestions. "Our [email protected] colleagues are contributing some meaningful ideas that help us in our drive to ensure great customer service and quality value product offerings."

The program offers full-time jobs to recent university graduates, immersing them in the business through an 18-month process during which they work in stores, then in the merchandising department, then in various departments suitable to their education. Throughout, there is an emphaisis on idea generation, the company says. "We encourage a culture of innovation and mentorship with our [email protected] colleagues to help foster new ideas within a foundation of best in class business practices," McCrie says.

Announced last year, the program aims to hire 1,000 graduates by 2014. The current round of recruiting is accepting applications until October 7 for positions beginning in January 2011.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Judy McCrie, Executive Vice President of Human Resources, Loblaw Companies

Local innovation, self-sustaining ePole, uses wind and solar, impresses Queen

When the Village of Downers Grove, near Chicago, sought a cost estimate for 25 lampposts for the new subdivision of Prentiss Creek, they were quoted a price around $3 million. Instead of going ahead with it, they found an innovative, environmentally friendly solution from North York company Efston Science -- self-powering hybrid solar-and-wind-fueled streetlights that did not require digging trenches to bury power lines and would cost nothing to operate once they were installed. As a bonus, they would lower the carbon footprint of the village -- and all for a comparatively low cost of $282,500.

The ePole was developed by Efston Science a year ago, according to company owner Nick Efston, and is manufactured in the GTA in partnership with a pole maker in Burlington and a wind turbine company in Mississauga. The poles use a small wind turbine and a small solar panel in conjunction, and can store electricity for days at a time. According to Efsotn, the ePole business supports roughly a dozen jobs in the area.

Efston says that the Chicago-area project was the first major contract for the company -- and now that there's a precedent, he expects orders to start picking up. "We're now being spec-ed into a lot of projects. People are more responsive now that there's a working example to look at," he says. Among those impressed, reportedly, is the Queen, who viewed a pilot installation ePole at Woodbine racetrack on her recent visit.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Nick Efston, owner, Efston Science

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

High Park Nutrition adds mobile initiative 7 months after launch, employs 3, plans aggressive growth

High Park Nutrition saw a gap in the market when it launched its online health and wellness store last September. "We noticed that a lot of companies had tried the national play," says George Papayiannis, company founder and president. "We ship across the country, but we really focus on Ontario, and the GTA in particular."

The local focus -- which Papayiannis says is based on the importance of trust when buying health products online -- is reflected in the company's web address, hpn.to, and in taking its name from the Toronto neighbourhood where Papayiannis lived when he launched the initiative. Today based in a warehouse in Brampton and employing three staff seven months after launching, the company is embarking on an aggressive growth strategy.

Key to those growth plans is a new mobile e-commerce store (hpn.to/m), which the company claims is a Canadian first for a health and nutritional company. Based on observations that people were wary to place large orders when they were unfamiliar with the company, High Park Nutrition has also introduced a no-shipping-charge policy for all Ontario orders. It could lead to losses on many orders, but Papayiannis says he expects the move to build all-important customer trust.

Those initiatives introduced, the company will spend the next few quarters expanding its product offering from 1,500 to 10,000 items for sale, pursuing a long-tail strategy that takes advantage of the web's diversity and relationships with local suppliers.

And if growth meets his expectations in the coming months, Papyiannis expects to be hiring soon. "I definitely hope to hire in the next six to 12 months. Things are hectic at the moment, and we'll need some help as we expand."

Author: Edward Keenan
Source: George Papayiannis, President, High Park Nutrition

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

Brampton-based Sims Recycling is first in Canada to get OHSAS 18001 safety certification

Brampton's Sims Recycling Solutions, an electronics recycling company, has become the first in Canada to receive certification under the OHSAS 18001 standard for workplace safety. The international standard recognizes compliance with risk assessments and appropriate safety precautions dealing with every single job function in the plant.

Company President Cindy Coutts says the certification is an important step -- ensuring green jobs are safe jobs at the Bramption plant -- for a rapidly growing company in a very rapidly growing field. "We are a discard nation. People want newer, better, prettier electronics products all the time," Coutts says, resulting in some 225,000 tonnes of waste electronics in Canada every year. That's where Sims comes in.

Founded in 2003 by the mining firm Noranda, Sims Recycling Solutions was envisioned as an "above-ground mine," Coutts says, extracting resources from discarded electronics. Since then, it has grown from being a single-person operation to employ 100 as it mines an ever-growing mountain of computers, hand-held devices and other electronics from across the country. According to Coutts, clients include municipalities, businesses and governments concerned about data security.

In 2007, the company was sold to Sims Metal Management, an $8 billion Australian company that is the world's largest electronics recycler. The parent company was named one of the 100 most sustainable corporations in the world in 2009 and 2010 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Cindy Coutts, President, Sims Recycling Solutions Canada
11 Brampton Articles | Page:
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