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56 transportation Articles | Page: | Show All

Constant innovation leads FlightNetwork.com to #2 rank, 200-300% employment growth

In a recent study conducted by PhoCusWright & Experian Hitwise, FlightNetwork.com ranked second among online travel sales organizations, with 6 per cent of the market (second to expedia.ca's 18 per cent share).

For the Oakville-based FlightNetwork.com, it was a welcome confirmation of their success. According to General Manager Suri Pillai, the company was founded in 1998, but really only took off in 2006 when it settled on a business plan and set up shop online. In the four years since, Pillai says, the company has seen 200-300 per cent growth, and now boasts 145 employees in the GTA.

Pillai attributes his company's success to a number of factors, but traces many of them to a single source: "One of our key assets is our technology," he says, "we build our technology in house. We're innovating and evolving every day -- we make changes to our website every week, and that gives us a very powerful advantage."

Pillai says that he expects continued growth in the immediate future as the company begins to fully exploit the new business potential offered by social media.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Suri Pillai, General Manager, FlightNetwork.com

Got an Innovation & Job News tip? Email edward@yongestreetmedia.ca.

Aecon Group gets $19 million 407 contract, will lead to substantial employment

Etobicoke-based Aecon Group -- the largest construction and development infrastructure company in the country -- has landed a $19 million contract to widen a section of the 407 toll highway. The nine-kilometre stretch between Highway 404 and Markham Road will see its median widened to accomodate two new lanes in each direction.

Construction is set to begin immediately and be finished in September. Aecon Senior VP Mitch Patten, could not immediately say how many workers the project is expected to employ, though the number should be substantial.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Mitch Patten, Senior Vice-President, Corporate Affairs, Aecon Group Inc.

Got an Innovation & Job News tip? Email edward@yongestreetmedia.ca.

Integran Technologies gets $1.1 million for two innovative green nanotech projects

Two metal-coating processes commonly in use today -- applying cadmium and chrome -- produce toxic effects for workers applying them and, in the case of cadmium, for its entire lifespan. Etobicoke-based Integran Technologies is exploring nanotechnology solutions to produce alternative high-strength, high-performance metals that are non-toxic to workers and the environment to replace these products.

Late last month, the federal government announced it would fund this nanotech research at Integran with a $1.1 million repayable investment over the next two years.  "This funding will allow Integran to offer viable and environmentally sustainable alternatives to the production of metals for the aerospace industry," said federal Minister of Industry Tony Clement.

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 35 employees over the course of the past five years. Rich Emrich, VP of business development at Integran, says that while these research projects will not lead to direct hiring, the company is constantly growing its workforce, adding researchers with advanced degrees.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Rich Emrich, VP of Business Development, Integran Technologies Inc.

Got an Innovation & Job News tip? Email edward@yongestreetmedia.ca.

Hydrgen gas innovators Hy-Drive issue $5 million in equity to fuel growth

Hy-Drive Technologies Ltd, based in Mississauga, announced last week that it was to raise $5 million in equity through a private placement -- the news came just a month after the company was listed as the small-cap clean tech stock of the week by TMXmoney and as one of the Earth Day penny stock picks at Stockhouse.

The company is growing rapidly as it markets its proprietary innovation -- a patented hydrogen generating system that injects hydrogen gas into a regular fuel injection system that allows fuel to burn cleaner and more efficiently. The Stockhouse report explains, "The enriched air/fuel mixture burns more efficiently, extracting more clean energy from the fuel while reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Further, independent tests show that the Hy-Drive Hydrogen Generating System increases fuel economy by more than 10 per cent."

According to a company release, it has recently been engaged in a large marketing drive that it is happy with -- and has resulted in 150 expressions of interest in its product. "We are very pleased with the initial results..." said Fred Florence, Hy-Drive CFO and COO, in a release, "and we expect to add many more fleets to trial HGS and prove to themselves the savings and emission reductions that can be realized."

The company has been around in various forms since 1996, but first launched it's hydrogen generating product -- which it calls the result of "over 100 person-years of research" -- in 2004. Now headquartered in Mississauga, the company employs approximately 30 people.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Fred Florence, COO, Hy-Drive Technologies Ltd.; Stockhouse; TMXmoney

Got an Innovation & Job News tip? Email edward@yongestreetmedia.ca.

Bike Sauce brings DIY repairs and cycling advocacy together in Riverside

Allyson Amster says that she and the other five co-founders of Bike Sauce all have experience working at DIY bike repair shops elsewhere in the city, and when they decided to open a new one in the east end, they came to a realization: the gearhead environment could be a drawback.

"We recognized that it could be intimidating to a lot of people who wanted to be involved in cycling, and in building the city through cycling advocacy," Amster says. So they hit on the idea of combining the repair shop with a social space and an advocacy approach -- a space she says will be "stacked with cycling literature" alongside wrenches and spokes.

The new organization at 717 Queen Street East -- at the corner of Broadview Avenue -- is set to open April 17, but will host a fundraising party featuring local bands and "Bike Jazz with dancers" on April 9. The fundraising component is important, since Bike Sauce is, for now, a non-profit organization entirely run by volunteer labour.

Amster says the six co-founders personally provided seed money to launch the organization, and have attracted a dedicated crew of 20-30 volunteers so far. The business model, she explains, depends on revenue from the sale of refurbished bikes -- which Amster says is already booming even prior to the opening -- plus sales of bike parts in the shop and donations, which are also already strong.

The fundraiser takes place Friday, April 9 at 9pm, at Blue Moon, 725 Queen Street East. Admission is on a $5-$10 sliding scale.

Author: Edward Keenan
Source: Allyson Amster, Co-founding Director, Bike Sauce

Got an Innovation and Job News tip? Email edward@yongestreetmedia.ca.

After 500% growth in four years, AutoShare is now parked on-street -- and hiring

In January, Zipcar became the first car-sharing service to be approved by the City of Toronto for on-street parking. Now their competitor, the locally-based AutoShare, is getting in on the action too, with 22 vehicles parked in six different locations in downtown Toronto and North York. AutoShare President Kevin McLaughlin says the move reflects an important shift for the city. "Symbolically, it means the city is taking another step to thinking about the transportation infrastructure we need for the future," he says. More practically, for the company, it will serve to increase awareness through visibility in addition to the obvious benefit delivered by new locations.

McLaughlin says the industry in Toronto has been experiencing explosive growth. "Four years ago we had 2,000 members," he says. "Today we and our competitor combined have 20,000 people participating in car sharing service. That's a tenfold increase." AutoShare itself has about half of that market, with over 10,000 members on its roster.

The company has gone from five to 16 employees in that same four-year span, and is looking to hire two new employees right now. McLaughlin sees only more growth as the city approves more and more flexible spots for his service and others like it, and as people become more aware of the environmental and economic costs of individual car ownership.

Author: Edward Keenan
Source: Kevin McLaughlin, President, AutoShare

Got an Innovation and Job News tip? Email edward@yongestreetmedia.ca.

Toronto Cyclists Union wins US-based innovation award for newcomer initiative

On March 9, the Toronto Cyclists Union was honoured for the 'Innovation of the Year' at an awards ceremony in Washington, DC hosted by the Alliance for Cycling and Walking. The group was recognized for its Partnership for Integration and Sustainable Transportation, which it runs in conjunction with Culturelink Settlement Services.

"We're honoured to be accepting this award on behalf of our partnership," says Yvonne Bambrick, Executive Director of the Toronto Cyclists Union who received the award in Washington. "This project is helping us to grow roots in Toronto's diverse communities, and to exchange knowledge about sustainable habits here and around the world."

The recognized program involves workshops around the city in 16 different languages, a handbook and a poster campaign.

The union was formed in Toronto in May 2008 to promote cycling as a viable form of transportation and to provide services and information to the city's bike riders.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Yvonne Bambrick, Executive Director, Toronto Cyclists Union

After doubling its workforce in 2009, Porter plans to grow by another 200 by July

With rumours swirling that owner Robert Deluce plans to take Porter Airlines public this spring, the three-year-old regional airline is flying high. Last year, during a generally disastrous year for the airline industry, the company saw its revenue grow by 300%, Deluce told the Toronto Star in late December. Porter is in the midst of constructing a new $45 million airport terminal at the Toronto Island Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, new airplanes are on order and new flight routes are being added (most recently to Myrtle Beach and Sudbury).

All of that adds up to a lot of job growth. According to Brad Cicero, a Porter spokesperson, last year's growth saw the company double its staff from 400 to 800 employees. And if all goes according to plan, the company will have added an additional 200 staffers by the end of July, before likely seeing employment levels plateau for the rest of the year. Job openings currently advertised range from mechanics to pilots to call centre staff. Cicero says "the vast majority" of those jobs are located in Toronto.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Brad Cicero, Porter Airlines

Cycling innovators vroomen.white.design take Canadian Innovation Award for manufacturer of the year

Fifteen years ago, Toronto engineers Phil White and Gerard Vroomen of vroomen.white.design began designing and manufacturing racing bicycles under the brand name Cervelo. Today, still owned by White and Vroomen, North York-based Cervelo is the world's largest manufacturer of time trial and triathalon bikes, with Tour de France and Iron Man trialthalon victories and Olympic gold medals won on its bicycles.

Last week, Vroomen and White were honoured at the Canadian Innovation Awards as Canadian Manufacturer of the Year in recognition of their world-leading technology and innovative leadership.

According to the company, Cervelo was founded in a pure quest for innovations that would lead to racing excellence. "We wanted something that was unbeatable in aerodynamics yet sacrificed nothing in weight or stiffness, and unfettered by issues of marketability," reads a company history on its website. Today, with eight engineers in its employ and selling more than 10,000 units per year, the same spirit is visible in their philosophy. "We apologize in advance if our ads look like they were written by engineers," they write. "We figured you would rather read an ad designed by an engineer than ride a bike designed by the marketing department."

Currently most of Cervelo's manufacturing takes place in Asia, but recently White told the Toronto Star that they intend to begin manufacturing bikes at their North York facility within the next two years.

Four other Ontario companies were honoured at the Canadian Innovation Awards, including Scarborough Tim Hortons franchisee Megleen Inc, who won the Canadian Innovation Award for Innovator of the Year.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Cevelo, Toronto Star

Toronto Port Authority greens it's operations as part of $16 million expansion

The Toronto Port Authority, long portrayed as an environmental villain by Toronto island residents opposed to its operation of an airport on the Toronto waterfront, has announced an ambitious program of green improvements, part of a $16 million infrastructure spending initiative.

Headlines last week in the daily papers brought news of the TPA's plan to construct a pedestrian tunnel from the Toronto mainland to the airport -- contentious because of previous, thwarted plans to build a bridge. But buried in the news cycle was the announcement that all of the TPA's operations will be powered by renewable energy bought through a partnership with Bullfrog Power.

On the enviro front, the federal government agency responsible for Toronto's port further plans to invest $1 million in creating fish habitat, making a change to green lubricants for servicing all its machinery and vigilantly enforcing anti-idling laws. It's a small part of $16 million in capital expenditures in this year's TPA budget that includes resurfacing runways, constructing a sound barrier and upgrading equipment. The changes anticipate a growth in air traffic at the airport of over 35 per cent.

Community AIR, an activist group who have long opposed the TPA and the island airport, maintains the position that "a large, polluting airport within two kilometres of the city downtown will ruin the quality of life of all Torontonians." 

TPA president Geoffrey A. Wilson says the TPA is listening. "I respect the issue Community AIR is putting forward and to the extent that they're factually based, we try to address them. We have a mandate to be environmentally conscious .... and these environmental initiatives stem from our desire to be a good neighbour.

Wilson says the projects accompanying the airport's "unquestionable growth" are creating many jobs directly through Porter airlines and through its own hiring, but said it was hard to put a number of how many jobs would be created.
Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Geoffrey A. Wilson, President and CEO, Toronto Port Authority

Car sharing parking spots now on the street

Late last September, Toronto City Council approved a pilot program to allow car-sharing services to use on-street parking spaces and Toronto-based service AutoShare announced almost immediately that it would be putting cars in various locations downtown and in North York.

But last week, Toronto's other big car-sharing service, the Massachusetts-based Zipcar, announced that it was first in getting with the program. The first-ever space on-street, the company says, will be a Zipcar at the intersection of Harrison Garden Blvd. and Humberstone drive. The company expects to add 10 more spaces at other locations in the coming months.

While cycling and transit often dominate sustainable transportation discussions, car-sharing is proven by long-term studies to reduce reliance on vehicles among members and to increase demand for public transit. The City of Toronto, with a growing and competitive market, has been quietly encouraging the growth of car sharing services by, for instance, reducing parking requirements on condominiums with car-sharing services on-site.

In a release announcing Zipcar's new spot, City Councillor John Fillion said, "I'm pleased to have the first car in this program located in my Ward so our residents not only can save money, but also enjoy less traffic and less pollution."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Zipcar, City of Toronto, Autoshare
56 transportation Articles | Page: | Show All
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