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Toronto-made Waay app brings music theory to the 21st century

For musicians interested in learning classical music, taking music theory classes can be a good choice—but for those who want to learn genres like R&B, folk, rock, and pop, there’s a disconnect, says Alex Andrews.

Andrews is a developer and founder of Ten Kettles, a small indie dev company behind Waay, a mobile app meant to help DIY musicians with music theory. Before creating Waay, Andrews, from a young age, was passionate about music. He’s spent years 
working on developing his skills and touring with local Toronto bands.

"After teaching music and playing in bands in and around the city for years, I wanted to combine this passion for applied music theory with my background as an engineer, and that's how 
Waay was born!” says Andrews.

Waay works by offering short video lessons emphasizing practical music theory and practice with interactive music lessons. While there are currently three achievement levels like Melodies and Chords, Ten Kettles is working on adding more lessons. At 
$4.99 for the iPhone and iPad app, it can also be a better alternative to expensive private lessons. In the meantime, users can work with the current lessons and easily track their progress using the app.

“There are so many fantastic ways to use music theory when you write music, ways that help you be more creative, get more songs written, and have more fun,” says Andrews. “For many people, they'd never seen music theory used as a creative tool before. It was great to see what they could do with it.” 

Andrews says that music theory that requires musicians in non-classical fields to learn how to analyze Bach and Beethoven can make musicians feel they aren’t getting the most out of the education. And as someone who has taught private music lessons tailored to each student, Andrews hopes that his app will similarly help students learn theory at their own pace and in whatever genre they choose. He hopes the app will attract people who aren’t necessarilly interested in an overly-structured approach to learning music.

“Why are you learning music theory to write a music exam, when you could be learning music theory to, you know, write music?” Andrews says. “That's the approach I took when teaching private lessons and writing music with bands in Toronto, and it was such a fantastic way to make music theory genuinely useful and get people excited.”

York University’s solar smart grid leading charge for clean energy push in Ontario.

On the heels of many of the world’s global powers finalizing the agreements of COP21, an ambitious proposal dedicated to easing the effects of man-made climate change, researchers in Toronto are easing the issue in a development closer to home. 

Last week, York University unveiled a smart grid solar-powered charging station, developed by the university’s own Faculty of Environmental Studies. Part of what makes the charging station unique was that it was developed specifically with Canada’s cold winters in mind, and as such, was created with more durability, according to York University professor and lead researcher Jose Etcheverry, whose team developed the smart grid charging station. 

The issue with creating effective solar panels for Canada is not necessarily the solar panels themselves, but what Etcheverry calls the balance of components. While the balance of components might work well in warmer climates, it may not see as much 
return in a colder climate like Canada’s.

“Picture using a solar-EV-battery system, like the one we deployed at York University, in the far north of our country, in the Sahara and Atacama deserts, the jungles of Costa Rica and the schools of Mumbai,” says Etcheverry. “For that to happen we require good design that yields durability, reliability, beauty, local support and modularity. These are all key design and performance parameters that we are trying to distill and foster with our installation.”

Data from the station will be used to inform the development of more smart grid solutions and expand the presence of electric charging stations, which will be connected to the power grid at York University. The station is designed in a way that it’s easily to install in most parking areas. “We are gathering technical and performance data from the systems to help inform the development of smart solutions in municipalities nearby and faraway,” says Etchevarry. “We are very open to innovative collaboration and look forward to new partners.”

At the unveiling of the station last week, Ontario minister for transportation Steven Del Duca says that projects like this will help ease the inevitable transition to clean energy. 

“The Ontario government is supportive of green, clean, innovative technology that will transform the way we live, move, work and adapt to our environment,” Del Duca said at the time. “Charging stations that are fast, reliable and affordable will encourage Ontarians to purchase electric vehicles, reducing greenhouse gas pollution and keeping our air clean.”

Who’s hiring in Toronto? Inside Out, Big Viking Games, Artscape

Big Viking Games, a mobile game development company based in Toronto, is seeking a unity developer. The unity developer will be working on a mobile project that is currently in development, and will be responsible for designing, developing and optimizing mobile games from start to finish, identify system issues and implement game enhancements. The applicant should have a bachelor’s degree in a related field and at least three years of experience working as a developer. There is no fixed application date. 

Inside Out, an organization dedicated to bringing LGBTQ communities together in celebration of queer film, is looking for an executive director. Working with the board, staff and stakeholders, the executive director will be responsible for maximizing revenue sources, act as Inside Out’s principal spokesperson and advocate and developing partnerships with potential partners. Applications are due by January 11

Artscape, a nonprofit that makes space for local creatives, is looking for a director of finance and administration in Toronto. As an integral member of the senior management team, the director will oversee and direct financial management, forecase and manage cash flow and oversee general administration of the organization. The ideal applicant should have at least five years of experience in a similar role, a minimum of five years of experience managing people and a post-secondary degree in accounting. Applications are due by January 15.

Royal Taxi teams up with eCab to launch mobile app

As protests against Uber and City challenges rage on in Toronto, the taxi industry has been grappling with the question of how to deal with the disruption of its industry and bring its technology to the 21st century. 

eCab, a global alliance of taxi companies committed to bringing innovative digital technology to the industry, has teamed up with Royal Taxi in Toronto to develop a smartphone app for the company. The eCab app in Toronto follows the app’s successful presence in Vancouver of last year. According to Royal Taxi, the availability of an app helps the company cater to a younger demographic that expects efficiency in their daily life, as well as leverage the fact that they are a safer option. 

“Traditional taxi companies have typically relied on calls coming in to their Dispatch centre. An APP changes that and adds a greater dimension to the transportation industry—not to mention increases demand by a diverse demographic group,” said Spiros Bastas, general manager for Royal Taxi. “The glaring difference between our App and that provided by services such as Uber is safety, reliability and compliance.”

The Toronto app works by allowing users to get connected to the nearest Royal Taxi in the area, choose from regular, executive, and wheelchair accessible cars, and—most importantly—pay through the app. Users also have the option of enjoying WiFi in the vehicle.

“Urban mobility is facing a major evolution and the smartphone generation keeps evolving. The digital revolution and the unprecedented new competition entering all sectors of activity has to be addressed positively,” said Gilles Gomis, regional head of eCab. “eCab brings to the industry the tools to fill these needs while focusing on technology and quality of services.”

Who's Hiring in Toronto: The Soulpepper Theatre Company, Ontario Trillium Foundation

The Ontario Trillium Foundation is looking for a full-time program manager. The manager will be responsible for providing opportunities to youth, and creating programs that identify gaps in support systems and create opportunities for innovation. With a postsecondary degree in a related discipline, the program manager should have three to five years of experience working in the public benefit sector, demonstrated experience in helping applicants succeed and facilitation skills with diverse groups. Applications are due December 21

The Soulpepper Theatre Company, one of Canada’s largest urban theatre companies, is looking for an accounts payable coordinator. Working with the finance team, the coordinator will deliver full-service accounting and finance services to both Soulpepper and its 50% joint-venture, GBSP Centre Corp. (Young Centre). The ideal candidate should have hands-on experience with Microsoft Dynamics NAV, superior proficiency in Excel and experience in general accounting. Applications are due December 22.

Toronto Hydro launching world’s first underwater storage system with Toronto startup

Toronto Hydro is teaming up with Toronto startup Hydrostor to launch the world’s first underwater energy storage system. Three kilometres off Toronto Island and located 55 metres underwater, Hydrostor's system is connected to Toronto Hydro's electricity grid, and uses compressed air and the pressure of water to run its system. The technology works by running electricity through a compressor and converting it into compressed air. The compressed air is sent underwater where it is stored in large balloon-like structures, made out of the same type of material used in marine lift bags to raise shipwrecks. When electricity is needed again, the weight of the water pushes the air to the surface through a large pipe and an expander converts the air back into electricity.

“ As this technology is a world first, we’ll be evaluating the system’s versatility during the pilot project under real world operating conditions,” says Jack Simpson, director of generation and capacity planning. “

The technology has the potential to create a new generation of clean energy, as it produces zero emissions and stores electricity during off-peak hours when demand is low and electricity is cheapest. The electricity can then be released again during short-term power outages or high-demand times.

“In these situations, the HydroStor system would be able to release stored energy and provide the grid with an additional resource to help limit peak energy prices, improve power quality and help restore power during an area outage,” says Simpson. 

It will remain there until a two-year pilot study is complete.

Ontario Centres of Excellence announces partnership with China investment community

The Toronto-based Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), which works to drive the commercialization of research in the province, will work with the China Canada Angels Alliance (CCAA) to bridge the gap between Ontario-based businesses and the Chinese investment community. 

OCE and the CCAA will partner with Zhongguancun Haidian Science Park, a high-tech innovation centre in Beijing often referred to as China’s Silicon Valley, and River Capital, an investment fund in China. “It’s about building relationships,” said Dr. Tom Corr, president and CEO of the OCE. “ While the market there is massive, navigating it can be difficult for many reasons. We are creating an environment in which there’s an established relationship that can be incredibly beneficial for the companies seeking 
inroads in China.”

Currently, Zhongguancun Haidian Science Park is home to 10,000 business. “Given the size of the market, China offers tremendous opportunities for  businesses,” said Corr.

“Connecting Ontario companies and the technologies developed here with investors and other partners in China becomes much easier and more fruitful when you have agreements in place like the one we signed in Beijing.”

This isn’t the first time that the CCAA and the OCE have partnered to help Ontario entrepreneurs benefit from access to Chinese markets. The two already have a partnership through their China Angels Mentorship Program, which has already seen 10 Ontario companies benefit from $2 million in investments, as well mentoring and training on how to access the Chinese market. 

“Ontario has some exciting technologies to share with the world,” said said Huang Lei, Deputy Chief of International Cooperation of ZHSP.  “We are excited to be able to bring our expertise to this partnership to help them develop and grow.”

York University professor part of team that won Breakthrough Prize in fundamental physics

Dr. Sampa Bhadra, a York University physics professor, is part of Tokai to Kamioka (T2K) team that won the prestigious 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. 

The prize is meant to “recognize those individuals who have made profound contributions to human knowledge,” according to the website, and includes a reward of $3 million. 

The team won the prize for “for the fundamental discovery of neutrino oscillations, revealing a new frontier beyond, and possibly far beyond, the standard model of particle physics.”

However, working with a team of 1,370 other scientists, she admits she won’t see a large chunk of the $3 million prize—but is excited to have been part of such a discovery. “it will be a pretty good dinner and maybe I can celebrate with some of my other colleagues!” Dr. Bhadra says. “I am lucky to be working on neutrino physics at a time when several experiments, including our T2K experiment, have made critical discoveries within a relatively short time period.” 

While Dr. Bhadra says that this technology is possible to apply to photosensor technology, as with most scientific breakthroughs, it’s hard to tell whether this discovery will be integral to others in the future. “In science there is often a time lag between new technology and widespread application,” explained Dr. Bhadra.

Who’s hiring in Toronto? Yonge Street Mission, Association of Ontario Health Centres, and more

The Yonge Street Mission, an organization dedicated to helping alleviate poverty in Toronto, is looking for a Philanthropy Specialist. With at least two years of experience in a relevant area and an understanding of fundraising principles, the ideal philanthropy specialist would be responsible for helping with communications, metrics analysis and reporting and philanthropy team support. Applications are due December 3rd

The Association of Ontario Health Centres, an organization that champions transformative change in the health care system, is looking for a communications lead. The communications lead will be responsible for leading the implementation of marketing initiatives, serving as managing editor of the annual report and leading the ongoing development of AOHC’s member portal. To qualify, applicants should have an undergrad degree in a relevant field and a minimum of seven years experience in a communications setting. Applications are due December 3rd. 

YMCA of Greater Toronto, an organization that helps youth stay healthy, is looking for a financial analyst. As a financial analyst, the employee would be responsible for providing support to the year-end audit process, provide accounting support to the field and act as a key point of contact within the office of the chief financial officer. A postsecondary degree in a relevant field, minimum of three years of experience in a progressively responsible position and experience performing financial administration tasks are required. Applications are due December 7.

HealthEDGE taking applications to transform healthcare

In a collaboration between Toronto-area hospitals, health care professionals and the University of Toronto, students are encouraged to submit ideas for the HealthEDGE initiative, a year-long health care hackathon aimed at improving healthcare delivery. 

“We are all touched by the health system from birth.  And at times we have all experienced moments where we have witnessed snags, frustrations, delays, fundamentally illogical processes or practices, and outdated devices or approaches.” said Joseph Ferenbok, a University of Toronto professor and co-director of the Faculty of Medicine’s Health Innovation HUB (H2i). “But though we may have had these experiences, we are not all in a position to do something about these frustrations.” 

The current call for proposals is the first round of the initiative. A panel of industry experts will curate the submissions and channel them to teams of students with expertise in a variety of disciplines, and the groups that present the most interesting ideas will get at least $10,000 in funding. “The advantage of the HealthEDGE initiative is that it is an on-the-ground attempt to reach out to a variety of people, curate and categorize their experiences into practical challenges that are put in front of creative entrepreneurial minds to generate, develop, test and evaluate potential innovations,” said Ferenbok. “In doing so, we empower people in communities that may not be able to address the issues they identify.”

While the health care system in Canada is notorious for being slow to adopt innovative solutions, Ferenbok said that the fact they are working with hospitals as partners is an advantage. “Not only will some of the challenges come from within the hospital communities, mentorship and development will also be done in coordination with the hospitals, said Ferenbok. “We hope that this type of buy-in will create local champions who are aware of the innovation and act as internal advocates to help improve the chances of adaptation.”

Champlain Community Care Access Centre launches innovation centre

As the boomer population reaches retirement age, the strain on the Canadian healthcare system that will inevitably happen is a much-discussed topic in politics. But the The Champlain Community Care Access Centre,  one of the largest health service providers in eastern Ontario, is tackling the issue head-on. 

The CCAC is launching an innovation centre that it says will help people stay at home longer, better support caregivers, and improve access to home health-care technologies. “Demand for home and community care is growing dramatically -- and the patients we are supporting are sicker than ever before,” said Marc Souganivski, the Champlain CCAC CEO. “The combined growth in patient volumes and rising acuity is an important lever for modernizing the home and community care sector.”

The Centre will work by allowing health care technology developers and vendors to test, evaluate and recommend new technologies with patients and caregivers in real-life situations through its new Impact Centre. Some opportunities that the Centre will pursue include Better monitoring of patients’ ongoing conditions, better tracking of home care services being provided as planned and better access to home care supports and resources. 

“The Champlain CCAC innovation initiative is focused on e-Consumer health solutions that are industry-funded, focus on consumers (patients/caregivers) and include a supportive/social element,” said Souganivski. “There is growing recognition at all levels that technological innovations can help more people stay at home longer, better support caregivers, and improve outcomes.”

Who’s hiring in Toronto? The Alzheimer Society of Ontario, The Black Creek Community Health Centre

The Alzheimer Society of Ontario, the province's leading care and research charity committed to helping people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, is looking for a chief financial and administration officer. Key responsibilities include maintaining high standards of financial integrity, developing cost-saving initiatives and assessing and implementing employee-centric programs to promote a positive working culture. To qualify, the applicant should have a degree in Business Administration or Commerce or equivalent from an accredited college or university, 10 years of experience in finance and proven ability to to lead and influence stakeholders and business partners. Applications are due November 27

The Black Creek Community Health Centre, a health centre in Toronto focused on family and community health, is looking for a project coordinator. The project coordinator will ensure that group members and volunteers are committed, while documenting outcomes and lessons learned throughout projects and monitoring monthly expenses. Applicants should have a postsecondary degree in a related field, experience monitoring budgets and strong interpersonal skills. Applications are due December 2

Greenpeace Canada, a nonprofit organization that works to protect the environment, is looking for a head of communications and digital marketing. Major responsibilities include Planning, implementing and evaluating the national communications and digital mobilization program, overseeing communications on all GPC channels (including the website and social media) and ensuring rigorous risk assessment. To qualify, the head of communications should have knowledge of digital mobilization trends and tools, previous experience in a position which required highly tuned analytical and judgment skills and experience leading the development and implementation of digital mobilization strategies. Applications are due December 18.

University of Toronto researchers working on new guidelines for breastfeeding

As breastfeeding becomes a more popular method for mothers to feed their infants, not much is known about whether or not a breastfeeding mother’s prescription medications adversely affect the child.

Right now, University of Toronto researchers are trying to change that. David Colantio, a professor in the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology and clinical biochemist at SickKids, and Shinya Ito, from U of T’s Faculty of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and the head of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at SickKids, are working on guidelines to help guide new mothers through the process.

As 60 to 70 per cent of breastfeeding women use some form of medication, Colantio and Ito’s research is looking at over-the-counter drugs, like sleep medication and antihistamines, and prescription for Crohn’s, colitis, arthritis and depression, to see if it can have any effects on children.

Using specialized technology including high pressure liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry, the researchers can accurately measure any drug at very low levels. In a way, this helps the researchers study the effects of certain drugs on nursing mothers, as pharmaceutical companies are not allowed to conduct research on this group.
“The reason is one of ethics and likely legal risk. It would be unethical to give nursing mothers a medication/drug that they may not need, exposing both the mother and the infant to both known and unknown side effects,” said Colantio. “The advantage of our research is that we are not prescribing any medications, the participating moms have been prescribed medication by their primary care provider and are concerned about how this may affect their nursing infant.”
Once they gather enough data, they plan to develop guidelines within the next two years. In the meantime, they’re providing individual guidance to women who have questions about breastfeeding while taking medication.
“We have published a case study demonstrating that a certain medication the mother was prescribed did result in seizures in her nursing infant. We have also presented preliminary data at scientific conferences, which has helped to generate interest in our research,” said Colantio. “Our long-term goal is to publish our results in peer reviewed scientific journals, continue to present our data at scientific conferences and to help draft and publish guidelines to help provide guidance to both physicians and nursing mothers. “

Bell Media and Yellowpages team up for #shopthehood campaign

For the third year in a row, Bell Media and Yellowpages are partnering to run their Shop the Hood campaign, a program designed to support small businesses by advertising the benefits of local shopping.

Bell Media will support the program by airing televised profiles of Canadian neighbourhoods through its media properties. These include the Marilyn Denis show, which will host four experts like Charles MacPherson, Tommy Smythe, Vijaya Selvaraju, and Rodney Bowers, who will show off their favourite neighbourhoods. ETALK hosts will feature profiles from four major Canadian cities, including Queen West in Toronto and Gastown in Vancouver.
“There is a digital gap that exists at the local level in Canada. Canadians are global leaders in terms of digital media usage, however, adoption of these tools is much slower among Canadian businesses,” said Paul Brosseau, vice president of brand communications at Yellow Pages. “Three quarters of Canadians will research purchases online but less than half of Canadian businesses have a digital presence.”
At the same time, Yellowpages is promoting the #shopthehood hashtag to encourage Canadians to promote their favourite local shops, and their YP Shopwise app that shows off local deals.

“Access to placement in YP Shopwise free to all participating businesses offering promotions,” said Brosseau. “By downloading the YP Shopwise app, Canadians can instantly access exclusive Shop The Neighbourhood promotions available nearby at local stores.”

Who’s hiring in Toronto? Toronto East General Hospital, YWCA Toronto and more

Some of the more interesting employment opportunities we've spotted this week include:
Toronto East General Hospital is looking for a retail co-ordinator. Overseeing aspects of retail services, including the general store, vendor kiosk operations and volunteer fundraising initiatives, the co-ordinator will perform sales forecasting, marketing and budget analysis, maximize revenue streams with new and innnovative marketing initatives and oversee shop operations. A degree or a diploma in retail management or business admnistration is preferred. Applications are due November 23.

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation, Canada’s leading agency dedicated to eliminating racial discrimination, is looking for a communications officer. The job entails developing a dynamic communications plan, engaging in social media and strengthening relationships with contacts through the deployment of newsletters, blog posts and websites updates. The ideal candidate has at least three years of experience in a related field, working knowledge of social work and working experience with event technology platforms. Applications are due November 11.

YWCA Toronto, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls, is on the hunt for their next Information Technology Specialist. The specialist would be reporting directly to the manager of information technology, and work on troubleshooting computer problems and managing everyday operations. To qualify, applicants should have one to three years of work experience, an undergraduate degree in a related field and experience in a Windows server server-based network environment.
Do you know of a job opportunity with an innovative company or organization? Let us know!
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