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Design : Innovation + Job News

109 Design Articles | Page: | Show All

Toronto app developers Plastic Mobile shortlisted for Webby award (and look to hire 3 developers)

Toronto-based mobile branding agency Plastic Mobile has scored a Webby Awards nomination for its top-rated Pizza Pizza mobile app. Company co-founder Melody Adhami says the honour, which sees her small agency and a relatively small Canadian pizza chain up against US retial giants such as Wal-Mart, validates the innovative approach Plastic has taken to marketing for mobile devices.

"There are not a lot of people in our space going for these awards," she says. "It really shows our philosophy of focusing on great design and a great user experience works."

Adhami says that when she and her co-founder Sep Sayeddi started the company three years ago, the mobile industry barely existed--the Apple App store had yet to open and most users were business clients. Since then, the industry has transformed and Plastic's dedication to leading the marketing world in the sector has seen the company grow into a major player. They now have 20 employees, and are advertising for three new hires now, though Adhami says that the company is continuously hiring. "Finding people in this rapidly changing space is one of of our biggest challenges," she says, citing the rapid emergence of the sector means that company's like hers need to "brew their own" qualified employees.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Melody Adhami, Co-Founder and COO, Plastic Mobile

$26.6 million metal coating innovation project will see Integran technologies grow from 47 to 67

Integran Technologies of northern Etobicoke is embarking on a $26.6 million research project that is expected to create 20 new jobs at its Toronto facilities, bringing its workforce to 67.

The company is developing an environmentally friendly metal coating for airplanes, cars and other products that is designed to increase durability and longevity. Lighter than existing coatings, it should also reduce the weight--and therefore the fuel requirements--of vehicles.

Integran was founded 10 years ago as the evolution of a former branch of Ontario Hydro. Now a privately held company, Integran has grown from five to 47 employees over the course of the past six years, and has added 12 new employees in the last year alone, since we last wrote about them.

The project will be supported by a $4 million investment from the provincial government. Minister of Economic Development Sandra Pupatello calls Integran "cutting edge" and says supporting them is part of the province's drive to create a globally competitive business environment. Company president Rich Emrich says the investment from the province will help make it possible for the company to "reduce the impact that aerospace and auto sectors have on the environment," while helping his company create new jobs.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Leigh-Ann Popek, Office of the Minister of Economic Development; Rich Emrich, Integran Technologies

Fire prevention tool earns Mississauga's Pioneering Technology a small business innovation award

Mississauga's Pioneering Technology has been recognized as one of the leading innovative small businesses in Canada by the 2011 Innovations@Work Awards handed out by Rogers and Profit magazine. The awards recognize Canadian companies that have fewer than 20 employees--in the words of the organizers, "the only award of its kind in Canada, it celebrates the next generation of innovative small companies whose big ideas move their businesses and their industries forward."

Pioneering was recognized for its Safe-T stovetop cooking system, which is designed to prevent cooking fires, the leading cause of household fires in Canada. According to a recent profile in Profit, the system was designed in 2000 by Indian-born former NASA engineer and Pioneering founder Reza Shah after a small cooking fire in his own kitchen almost bunt down his own home. The element shuts itself off if it reaches a temperature higher than 350 degrees celsius and keeping the power off until they have cooled down.

After initially encountering resistance in the market, the company shifted its marketing focus substantially in 2006 and 2007. The changes brought success--the company has now reported a profit in six consecutive quarters.

Pioneering CEO Kevin Callahan greeted the innovation award as evidence the years of hard work are paying off. "We have worked hard to develop and bring some of our innovative product solutions to market. We have done a lot of heavy lifting ... and we are now seeing the benefits."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Kevin Callahan, CEO, Pioneering Technology; Profit Magazine

Toronto fashion design CEO named Student Entrepreneur of the Year

Yanina Chevtchouk is a full-time Ryerson business student. She's also the owner and CEO of the fashion design label Paria Lambina Inc, headquartered here in Toronto. That combination of traits has earned her an award from the organization Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship as the 2011 Ontario Student Entrepreneur Champion.

She says that being a full-time student and running a business at the same time gives her the opportunity to put her learning into practice immediately. "It has its ups and downs, but I think the benefits outweight the drawbacks."

The recognition comes with a cheque for $1,000 and the chance to move on to the national-level competition, where the prize is $10,000 cash. But Chevtchouk, says the opportunity to network and "receive feedback from top executives" that could improve her business as the real benefits of the citation.

Founded last year, Paria Lambina debuted a collection at Montreal Fashion Week in the Fall, earning writeups from sweetspot.ca, Canoe.ca and Flare magazine. She's preparing for bigger stages yet--next up is Toronto Alternative Fashion Week.

Chevtchouk says that it's an interesting time to be in the fashion industry in Toronto. "It's definitely an interesting place given the number of US retailers that are coming here. It's an exciting time."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Yanina Chevtchouk, Paria Lambina; Jaime Szegvary, ACE

Toronto game developer Fuse Powered selected for CIX accelerator, expects to double staff to 14

The Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX) recently announced the companies selected to participate in its inaugural Technology Accelerator program (which we wrote about here). Among the three selected to win three months of rent-free residence at the famed Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley was Toronto's Fuse Powered Inc.

The game developer specializes in creating applications for branded content supplier clients--so far, for example, they have developed games for the movies Jaws and Dawn of the Dead. CEO Jon Walsh says the company was originally founded in 2009 and headquartered in Old Toronto as an independent game developer, but the company has shifted recently--launching its rebranding just last month--to focus on mobile publishing and providing services to outside clients.

Walsh says that for his company, the opportunity to be in California where both the game development industry and the entertainment clients he hopes to work with are headquartered is excellent. "It's really gonna accelerate our progress," he says. And that progress is already gaining momentum: Walsh says the company has grown in the past year to seven employees, and after closing a second round of seed funding in the near future, he expects to double the size of his staff.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Jon Walsh, CEO, Fuse Powered Inc.

Health innovation startup Enthrive looking to change world, hire 4

The team behind mobile application startup Enthrive are not modest about their goal to "change the world." They aim for nothing less than a revolution in the way people approach their health. The startup recently achieved the first stage of that goal by closing a $2 million financing round.

As a next step, they are currently building a team, starting with at least four hires now. The positions are in development and engineering, but they're looking for a particular type of candidate. As they write: "We're taking an unusual approach to building the company: assemble a relatively small, tightly knit collective of extraordinarily talented peers, while pursuing impact and revenue goals typically associated with large hierarchical enterprises. By keeping the team small, individual contributors can have greater ownership and input into decisions than is possible in traditionally-structured corporations, and life is generally more pleasant."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Jonathan Graff, Enthrive

Game developer XMG Studios looking to hire least 5

XMG Studio, one of Toronto's growing number of mobile game developers, is looking to grow their staff -- and they want to make it clear they are no ordinary employer, citing breakfast service and team go-kart outings among the perks they provide their staff in their call for "Rockstars from Mars."

The studio recently received funding from the Ontario Media Development Corporation for the new game "Powder Monkeys" that XMG founder and CEO Ray Sharma says "allows us to expand our team and move forward" on a game project that might otherwise take longer to develop. Sharma says of the current hiring, which will bring at least five new team members aboard, "We are building on our first year of success and ramping up for an amazing year two ... we want to bring in the best game developers, designers and artists."

Located in the Financial District, the company has released seven games since its founding just over a year ago, including "Drag Racer," "Pandemica," and "Inspector Gadget's  Mad Dash."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Ray Sharma, CEO, XMG Studio

Buzz-building stealth startup Influitive is staffing up

The Toronto startup Influitive has been operating in stealth mode as it builds a prototype, but that hasn't kept it from generating buzz, much of it resulting from its founders pedigree. As the digital news outlet TechVibes outlined earlier this year, "In September Toronto's [David] Crow left his position at Microsoft Canada as Platform Strategy Evangelist to co-found startup Influitive. As the organizer of DemoCamp Toronto, Founders & Funders, and StartupEmpire and an author, noisemaker, attention grabber at StartupNorth, Crow knows a thing or two about startups. Keep on an eye on Crow and look for Influitive to launch in 2011."

Now the company is ensconced in new offices at Queen and Richmond and the company is staffing up--seeking designers and developers--and some information about this hotly anticipated startup is emerging.

According to the company's own description, they plan to "make buying better" -- "No one is excited by a call from a sales person or an email from the marketing department. We're trying to make that experience better. We help prospective customers connect and have meaningful conversations with happy customers, so they can make an informed purchasing decision."

Moreover, Crow has described the company's progress on his blog, writing: "I found a co-founder. We started a company. We've hired a team. We're raising money. We've built a product. Talked to potential customers. Threw that product out. Started again. Talked to potential customers. Listened. Formed a hypothesis. Gathered feedback. Iterated. Measured. Tested. Design. Built. Lather. Rinse. Repeat."

Influitive is preparing for a beta launch soon. We'll continue to track their progress as the company grows.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: David Crow; TechVibes

Oakville animation studio Pipeline grows from 24 to 90 employees in four years, hiring now

Oakville's Pipeline Studios has grown quickly since its launch in 2007, taking on computer animation projects for such entertainment powerhouses as Nelvana, Nick Jr., Hasbro and the Disney Channel, including working on the kids' show blockbuster The Backyardigans. In that time they've also grown from 24 to 90 employees, and continue to hire now, according to company co-founder Juan Lopez.

"It's a constant process of growing and hiring," Lopez says. "it's a key advantage, having made a large investment in technology, but also being close to a pool of very highly skilled labour." He notes that Canada—and the GTA and Sheridan College in particular—have a global reputation for excellence in animation. "That reputation means that major worldwide productions come here, even though there's competition from lower-cost areas such as China. We control the standard of quality." He notes that the company's reputation for quality and for employing the best has also attacted some of the best animators in the world to relocate here. "People like the quality of life here. They mention it."

Mac Holyoke was a Sheridan College graduate and an employee of Nelvana when he hooked up with fellow Sheridan Grad Lopez to found the company in January 2007. They formed a partnership with Sheridan College's business incubator Spark, and have since recruited more than 60 per cent of their staff from the school, which is known around the world for its animation program. Pipeline's success at Spark was recently held up as a model by the Ministry of Research and Innovation when it announced the creation of an Ontario Centre of Excellence research hub called HalTech at Sheridan.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Juan Lopez, Pipeline Studios; Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation

Royal Wedding latest milestone for Toronto innovator ScribbleLive's live-blogging dominance

Scribble Technologies Inc, based on Niagra Street near King West, has announced the latest coup in its steady march to dominance in the online breaking news business. UK multimedia news agency The Press Association will use the ScribbleLive content management system to syndicate live coverage of the royal wedding to its customers around the world. According to information provided by Scribble Technologies COO Mark Walker, this is the first time news agencies will ever be able to license real-time digital breaking news coverage through an online content management system platform.

This is just the latest milestone in the company's rapid growth since its launch in 2008. Back then, CTV employees Michael De Monte and Jonathan Keebler, starting with $1,500 according to TechCrunch, developed the platform in their spare time as a superior form of live blogging, able to take inputs from mobile phones and email. Since then, they've added functionality (allowing enhanced social media and photo capabilities, among other things) and have added high-profile clients including Reuters, Toronto Star, National Post, Hearst and theScore.com.

Walker says the company has grown from two to 12 employees and that more growth is on the horizon. "The first stage to world dominance is to own your home market," he said. "We've done that, and our partnerships with Press Association and Reuters are key for our global expansion.

Walker says the key is that readers want the pace of Twitter with the reliability of a news organization and that capability is what ScribbleLive provides..

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Mark Walker, COO, Scribble Technologies Inc; TechCrunch

Computing innovators OnX recognized again for management excellence, hiring 11 now

When Markham-based OnX solutions was recently recognized for the third year in a row for its commitment to its ongoing drive to "grow, innovate and deliver continuous business value," by being named to the Deloitte list of the 50 Best Managed Companies in Canada, OnX President Ed Vos issued a statement attributing the honour to the strength of his "world-class team of IT professionals."

Now, the company is looking to expand that team by adding 11 staff in its offices in Markham and Toronto.

The company, founded in 1983, was also recognized in 2010 as one of the best places to work in Canada. OnX designs, builds and operates "mission-critical computing environments" and cloud computing solutions to companies across Canada and around the world.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Ed Vos, President, OnX Solutions

Canadian group buys majority stake in local $153 million animation innovation powerhouse Starz

The Toronto studio that did the animation work for the blockbuster film Gnomeo and Juliet, Starz Animation Toronto, has been sold to a majority ownership group of Canadian investors led by J. Thomas Murray and Steven B. Hecht. While the former owner, US-based Starz LLP, will retain a minority ownership stake, Hecht says that being Canadian-owned will allow new routes for "aggressive growth."

Hecht says Canadian ownership will allow the company to take advantage of "significant grants, labour tax credits and subsidy opportunities available in Canada." He says the plan is to continue its production work for major studios while building a larger multimedia business using the company's animation, CG and visual effects expertise.

The company notes that in 2009 the provincial government contributed just under $23 million to a total $153 million investment in the Toronto studio to create 250 jobs, and anticipates the province's continued support under the new ownership group.

In addition to the $100 million success of Gnomeo and Juliet, the studio has also worked on the TV series Camelot, the film 9 and the upcoming Warner Brothers film Dolphin Tale.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Stephen B. Hecht, Starz Animation Toronto

UofT students launch academic social networking platform uBuddy.org

The power of social media has made it ever easier for students to connect with one another (Facebook, remember, was launched as a Harvard University social tool). The internet is a powerful driver of social interaction. But when it comes to serving students' academic needs, according to Ryan McDougall, the range of services and how they interact has been pretty poor.

McDougall is the Communications Director of uBuddy.org, a brand-new academic-oriented social networking site created by and for University of Toronto students. After launching in mid-February for beta testing, McDougall says the site has already attracted 1,200 users. "It is designed to be an efficient and powerful tool for--among other things--note sharing, meeting classmates and starting course discussions," McDougall says.

The site was the brainchild of U of T grad Charles Qu, who recognized a hole in the market when he himself was a university student, and developed the platform and startup company with help from MaRS.

McDougall says that during the pilot phase, the service is available exclusively to U of T students. But he says there are plans for expansion to other universities in the fall of this year.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Ryan McDougall, Communications Director, uBuddy.org

NFB Mediatheque will transform Toronto centre into interactive film hub

The National Film Board of Canada has recently shown itself to be on the innovative edge of interactive film, producing such web-accessible projects as Out My Window that allow viewers to virtually "roam around" inside a film.

The public organization recently announced that it would cement that commitment to innovation with a physical renovation to its Mediateque at Richmond and John Streets in the Entertainment District. The eastern half of the space will be converted into an "interactive cinema and storytelling space," featuring units that allow access to its interactive portal and 1,800 streaming films.

The space will also be a state-of-the-art exhibition venue, equipped with ceiling mounted cameras and a high-tech sound system capable of hosting interactive programming and multimedia art installations. Visitors will also be able to provide suggestions via a high-tech touchscreen feedback system. The renovations are expected to be completed and open to the public next month.

In addition to the new elements, a spokesperson says, visitors will continue to have access at the mediateque to the NFB's archive of more than 5,000 films at free viewing stations.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Jennifer Mair, NFB publicist

3D design innovators Javelin have added 10 staff recently, will add 5 more moving into new office

Oakville's Javelin Technologies has built a sturdy business out of selling and supporting SolidWorks 3D manufacturing software. The software allows manufacturing designers to model their products in three dimensions, run simulations and manage data. For Javelin, it's been a boon supporting the local automotive manufacturing industry. In the words of Managing Director John Carlin, "3D design makes our auto parts industry, especially tool, die and mould makers, more competitive in the global market. The production of digital models and 3D prototypes is the future of manufacturing."

And because of that prognosis, the future of Javelin also looks bright. Founded in 1997, the company has steadily built its reputation -- they are recognized as the number one SolidWorks reseller in Canada -- and has continued to grow steadily. In the past year and a half, they have added 10 new employees to their staff, bringing their total number of employees to 50. In April, the company moves into a new technology centre in Oakville, and will add five more new employees.

Carlan says that the team is "very excited" about the move -- which is perhaps overdue since they've been in the same location since 1998. At 12,000 square feet, the new office will offer roughly double the space of the old one. And Carlan takes the opportunity to use the news as a plug for his product. "As the leading 3D design software company in Canada we needed to have our building design as a usable 3D solid model. Our team has used SolidWorks as well as BuiltWorks to model up the building and the structure."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: John Carlan, Managing Director, Javelin Technologies
109 Design Articles | Page: | Show All
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