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Female Funders challenges 1,000 women to become angel investors

A lot of people have tried to address tech's gender gap, but few have come at it in the way that Katherine Hague, founder of Toronto-based Shoplocket, has. 

After selling her company last year to PCH International, an Irish multi-national that assists companies with custom manufacturing, Hague decided to use the windfall from the sale to invest in early stage startups—an angel investor, in the parlance of the industry. 

One of the first startups she put money into was CareGuide, another local startup. 

"At the time there were 70 investors in the company’s latest round and before we (Hague and her longtime friend and Ladies Learning Code founder Heather Payne) invested in them only one investor was a woman," says Hague. "We looked at those numbers and thought it was absolutely crazy. I started talking to a number of woman who had expressed interest in angel investing and I tried to get at the reasons why they hadn’t done it." 

"It turns out that there a lot of misconceptions," she adds. "Either around the types of people that should invest, or how expensive and hard it is."  

To that end, she and several of her colleagues from PCH have launched Female Funders, a new initiative that aims to lay out exactly what's involved in angel investing. For instance, according to the group's website, investments in early-stage companies typically range from $10,000 to $50,000, but can often be as little as $1,000. It is, as the site says, often less than the cost of a vacation for most people.

It's Hague's belief that more female investors will lead to more female-led companies being funded. To start, she wants to get 1,000 woman to commit to funding their first company this year. 

Since launching last Thursday, more than 500 woman have already said they'll answer that call. Now Hague and her team are busy preparing to send out a getting started guide to help them on that road. 

"It will help change the ratio in all aspects of venture, and that’s really what I’m excited about," she says. "This is the way that we’re trying to spark that change, but I think it has waves of impact across all aspects of the industry."

UofT researchers create microchip that will reduce lung transplant deaths

At the University of Toronto a group of researchers have developed a microchip that will help doctors better assess the quality of a potential lung transplant. 

According to Professor Shana Kelly, one of the scientists who lead the team that developed the technology, doctors usually only have several hours to decide if they're going to go through with a lung transplant operation. 

As a result, 10 to 25 per cent of lung transplant patients begin to suffer from a condition called primary graft dysfunction. While doctors conduct a variety of tests to ensure that a lung is suitable for transplant, these tests do not have the ability to currently catch subtle tissue damage. 

In many other fields of medicine, doctors use a technique called "biomarker profiling" to catch the smallest degree of tissue damage. Unfortunately, until now that technique has been too time consuming to conduct in the time doctors had to make a decision on whether to operate.

"This [breakthrough] could help eliminate the leading cause for post-operation death," she says.  

Using the data collected from the microchip and with the help of a algorithm Professor Kelly and her team developed, this new technology is able to generate a risk rating for a lung. It's also able to provide this assessment in 20 minutes. 

"We hope that this will lead to improved utilization rates for donated organs," says Professor Kelly. 

Like most medical breakthroughs, additional testing is required before this technology makes it way to hospital operating rooms. 

"We will be running a larger scale validation study to prove out the accuracy of our method, and also building automated instrumentation that will allow the technology to be used anywhere that transplant-related decisions are being made," she says.

Who's hiring in Toronto? Canadian Art Foundation, Twenty One Toys and more...

Studio Y, MaRS’s innovative youth fellowship program, is hiring an associate. This individual will work with the rest of the Studio Y team to support and mentor the youth that take part in the program. In terms of qualifications, MaRS’s posting is a bit short on specifics, but essentially the organization would like someone with an inclination towards entrepreneurship and design thinking. Additionally, strong interpersonal skills are a must, as is the ability to give and receive constructive feedback. Applications should be submitted by September 1.

Twenty One Toys, a Toronto-based startup that is responsible for creating a variety of unique toys that help teach skills like empathy and collaboration, is adding a community manager to its team. Twenty One Toys is looking for someone with excellent writing and public speaking skills—part of the application process includes submitting three pieces of writing—and a passion for education. The deadline to apply is August 31.

The Canadian Art Foundation is hiring front-end web developer. Much of the role will involve building and maintaining the CAF’s website. In terms of technical requirements, the posting says the organization’s ideal candidate is an individual with extensive experience with WordPress and InDesign. Additionally, anyone that applies should be well-versed in programs like Photoshop, Google Analytics and Campaign Monitor. A specific date by which applications must be submitted is not listed in the CAF’s posting.  

Lastly, CatalystsX, an organization that invests in innovators and social entrepreneurs, is conducting a CEO search. CX is looking for someone that will, over the next two years, secure the organization’s future by building the community around it, continuing to develop its structure and by ensuring that it has financial stability. The ideal candidate is someone with vision and a flair for strategic thinking. Check out the CX’s website for the full posting. Catalysts is accepting applications until September 15.

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

Interac joins MaRS's fintech cluster to further financial technology innovation

Six months after the launch of the country’s first fintech cluster, MaRS announced on August 18 that Interac has become the latest major player to join its collaborative network for startups and already-established companies working on developing new financial technologies.

As a part of the agreement, the Interac Association and Acxsys Corporation, the two organizations behind Interac, the payment system that powers almost all the debit cards in Canada, will join MaRS’s financial technology cluster. According to Adam Nanjee, the head of cluster, Interac will work with startups that are based in MaRS’s College and University campus to collaborate on new technologies like crypto-currencies.   

“This partnership indicates that there’s strong interest from Canadian financial services providers to help facilitate innovation,” said Nanjee when asked to touch on the significance of partnership. “For our cluster this engagement is critical — building a global fintech hub requires players in all sectors of financial services – from the banks to the payment networks.”

For Torontonians not immersed in the city’s startup community, Nanjee says it’s partnerships like this that will help continue build Toronto’s reputation as an important financial hub.

“This type of collaboration positions our city to become a global leader in financial services innovation on par with international fintech hubs like New York, London and Hong Kong. Creative new products, digital channels and experiences are developing here at MaRS where financial institutions are working alongside startups and this is something we should be proud of”

Previously, other financial institutions and companies, including CIBC, PayPal, Moneris and UGO, have partnered with MaRS to join the FinTech cluster.

The initiative, which is one of  its kind in Canada, provides local area startups with access to the regional innovation centre’s suite of resources, as well as facilitates access to startup capital and the centre’s already established partner and customer networks.

MaRS also has two other clusters located within its building. One is devoted to legal technology; the other is focused on retail and digital commerce technology. They provide many of the same services and resources.

Toronto-based OTI Lumionics launches its super thin Aerelight desk lamp

At the end of last year, Yonge Street Media featured five Toronto startups we thought would make a big splash in 2015. More than half a year after that piece was originally published, one of the companies included in that list, OTI Lumonics, has finally shipped its first product.

OTI’s Aerelight A1 OLED desk lamp can now be purchased for $299 CAD from the company’s website.

Besides being able to claim that it is the world’s first OLED desk lamp, the A1 includes a couple of nifty features not usually present in your everyday lamp. For one, the entirety of its aluminum frame is touch-sensitive; instead of turning the lamp on and off, adjusting the panel’s brightness is done by simply touching the frame. It also supports both the Qi and PMA charging standards, meaning that those that have an Android smartphone can charge it by placing it on the lamp’s base (Apple, unfortunately, does not currently support either of those standards with the iPhone).

Initially envisioned as a way to help the average person understand the organic light-emitting diode technology the company has been working on, Albert Lam, a product manager at OTI Lumonics, says the launch of the Aerelight is a big milestone for him and his colleagues. “We’re really proud to have an product that almost anyone can buy,” he says. “The other thing that’s exciting is that this marks the beginning of many more OLED-enabled products, and we’re excited to be leading that.”

At first blush, the cost of the Aerelight appears expensive, but Lam argues that there’s a lot of value to the product. “Even if you go to Crate & Barrel, a desk lamp there can easily cost you $300, and still all you’re getting is a regular bulb,” he says.

More so than the lamp itself, what’s exciting about this launch is the technology OTI has developed to enable. As mentioned before, the Aerelight is the world’s first OLED lamp. OLEDs are ubiquitous in smartphones and HDTVs. However, they’re just making their way into lighting technology, and the have the potential to completely change every aspect of the field.

“Organic LED is an exciting technology because it is made completely out of carbon-based molecules, which are easily degradable and disposable. We’re using simple dyes that are in everyday clothes and cosmetics,” says Lam. The philosophy of our lighting and designs moving forward, because OLED is such a thin form and it can be any shape and flexible, it’s going to enable designs that weren’t possible before. We’re going to be able to do sculptural designs that weren’t possible before and even redefine what we even consider lighting.”

University of Toronto answers President Obama's call to increase gender diversity in engineering

On the same day that President Barack Obama hosted the White House's first ever startup demo day, the world's most powerful political leader also announced the start of new initiative aimed at increasing diversity within the field of engineering. 

Over 90 North American universities, including two Canadian schools—the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo—have agreed to work toward recruiting more women and underrepresented minorities into their engineering programs. 

Each of the 92 schools taking part in the initiative has agreed to a four part action plan that, among other things, calls for the participants to work closer with schools that work with underrepresented populations. 

"Engineers are working hard to find solutions to some of the most critical challenges of our time, including environmental degradation, urban issues, health care and more. We know that including diverse perspectives in the field increases creativity, which in turns drives better, more innovative ideas and approaches for the future," says Michelle Beaton, the associate director of the University of Toronto's Engineering Student Recruitment and Retention Office. 

"U of T is a trailblazer in fostering diversity within the engineering field, and under the leadership of our dean Cristina Amon, we continually seek opportunities nationally and internationally to ensure women and underrepresented minorities are attracted to and thrive in the profession."

According to Beaton, the University of Toronto is well on its way to answering President Obama's call for greater gender diversity. In 2014, 30.6 per cent of the students starting first year classes at the university's Faculty of Engineering were women. Beaton says this the best ratio among engineering schools in Canada.  

Who's hiring in Toronto? Neighbourhood Group, SickKids Foundation and more....

The Neighbourhood Group, a local organization that provides community support programs that focus on the needs of youth, women and underrepresented minorities, is adding an early childhood educator to its team. The person that takes on this role will be responsible for planning and implementing a program that meets the needs of a diverse group of children. The Neighbourhood Group's ideal candidate is someone that is a good standing member of the College of Early Childhood Educators and with a strong set of interpersonal skills. Applications should be submitted by August 21

Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto's home for all sorts of events, is hiring a new event coordinator. Much of the role involves coordinating events with third-party organizers and ensuring the orderly operation of the downtown venue. The Yonge-Dundas Square board, which is appointed by the City of Toronto, is looking for a candidate with at least three years of experience in the event planning space. Moreover, experience with the practical aspects of production, as well as working with a wide variety of stakeholders is a must. Applications should be submitted by this Sunday, August 16. 

Lastly, the SickKids Foundation is hiring a full stack developer. The person that takes on this role will be responsible for leading the design, development and support of any enterprise and web applications used by the organization. SickKids is looking for someone that has a degree in computer science, and at least five years of experience the .NET framework. In addition, competency in the following programming languages and frameworks is also required: C#, ASP.net, CSS, Javascript, Ajax, JQuery, .Net API and ADO.net. The deadline to apply is August 24

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

Toronto becomes the site of IBM's first Canadian Bluemix Garage

On August 5, IBM announced the opening of a new Bluemix Garage within the Ryerson Digital Media Zone. Following previous launches in San Francisco and London, England, this new addition to the university-based startup incubator is the first of its kind in Canada. 

The Garage will offer a variety of services based upon IBM Bluemix, a cloud computing platform that the historic company built to help service clients both large and small. The staff at the Garage, which have access to IBM's vast resources, will be tasked with helping support any startups or enterprise clients that want to leverage the service. 

"Bluemix provides a very rich set of services and supports all sorts of ways to do programming," says Rachel Reinitz, the CTO of IBM Bluemix Garage. "By doing so it enables developers to build applications much faster and it lowers the costs for companies of all sizes to build and deploy applications."

Reinitz, a resident of Silicon Valley and one of IBM's most distinguished engineers, is the one responsible for bringing the Garage to Canada.  

"I picked Toronto very early on as a city, because we saw so much interest," "I have Canadian clients coming to San Francisco to work with us. IBM also has a presence in the city, and there’s a great downtown area.  In a lot of ways, it was just a matter of finding the right location."

“We are pleased to welcome the first and only Canadian Bluemix Garage into the DMZ,” said Abdullah Snobar, executive director of the DMZ. “This new partnership will provide IBM with an opportunity to work with some of our country’s top tech talent to explore new ideas and methodologies. Our entrepreneurs will also greatly benefit from access to IBM’s expertise and vast business network.”

460 King Street West to become Toronto's newest Innovation Hub

460 King Street West will not be the address for Toronto's newest condo complex. 

Once home to Global Village Backpackers, the building stood empty for several months after the hostel's closure in 2014. That is until two weeks ago when the Konrad Group, a Toronto-based digital consultancy firm, announced that it had acquired the building and unveiled a plan to turn the historic corner into Canada's newest innovation hub. 

According to co-CEO Geordie Konrad, the company has a multifaceted plan for the space. First and foremost, 460 King Street West will be the new home of BrainStation, the coding academy Konrad Group purchased last winter

Secondly, part of the building will also serve as a new co-working and event space called BrainStation Spaces. 

Lastly, a new coffee shop called Quantum Coffee will call the building home once renovations are completed. Like everything else associated with this project, Quantum Coffee will have a technology bent. For instance, instead of waiting on a barista to serve their coffee, customers will be able to use their smartphone to take advantage of Canada's first app-enabled pour over machine. 

Konrad says it was important for him and his colleagues that the whole building have a unique identity. 

"I think had we put a different, more corporate coffee chain there, the impact of the building would be completely different," he says. "By operating our own coffee shop, we're able to create a product that people in the King West technology sector are interested in." 

"For us, we want this building to be an asset to the community," says Konrad. "We want this to be a place where people can come to take part in events, workshops and get connected with one another. We're a part of this community too, so we want to make sure that what ends up on the corner of King and Spadina is something that we're all proud of."

Who's hiring in Toronto? Me to We, Deep Genomics and more...

Me to We and Free the Children, the local children's non-profit founded by brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger, are hiring a travel director. In terms of qualifications, Me to We is hoping to hire a person with seven to 10 years of marketing and travel sales experience. Another five years managing and leading a sales team is also required. To be considered for the position, applications must be submitted by August 15.

Deep Genomics, a University of Toronto-based startup that is developing a machine learning approach to analyzing DNA, is adding a software developer to its team. The person that takes on this role will be responsible for designing and developing the company's main web services API. In terms of qualifications, Deep Genomics is looking for an individual with five plus years of programming experience. Additionally, applicants must be knowledgeable in Python, and administrative platforms like Nginx and AWS. The deadline to apply is this Friday, July 31.

Lastly, Adventure Place, a family and child support centre located in North York, is hiring a part-time speech-language pathologist. The centre is looking for someone with a Master's degree in Speech Language Pathology and two years of experience. Moreover, as with any position that involves with working with children, it's important to be able to reassure parents and talk to them in a way that's intelligent and respectful. Applications should be submitted by August 31.

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

Facebook Canada is set to move into the MaRS West Tower

On July 22, Facebook Canada announced that it's set to become a tenant of MaRS's West Tower. 

The move is scheduled to happen sometime in 2016, and, according to Tim Jackson, the vice president of corporate and community development at MaRS, the company has told the innovation hub that it plans to double its headcount in the near future.  

After being completed in early 2014, the 20 storey West Tower stood nearly empty for several months. This led to a slew of bad press for the innovation hub, and a $309-million buyout from the provincial government. Since then, the fortunes of the building have started to reverse with marquee names like San Francisco-based Airbnb and Toronto-based Figure 1 becoming tenants. 

According to Jackson, with Facebook in tow the majority of the tower is now spoken for, and the challenge has become finding space for everyone. 

"It's a bit like playing Tetris with all the tenants," he says. 

"We're tying to fit everyone where we can, but effectively the building is fully spoken for with companies that have either a signed lease, are in the process of negotiating one or have expressed interest," he adds. "We’re very comfortable that we will have the building leased up by the timeline that was laid out to us by the province."

Jackson ends by saying that he and his colleagues at MaRS expect to have more exciting announcements about future tenants toward the end of the summer. 

City Hall gets high-tech screens to help visitors get around

Anyone that has visited City Hall recently might have a noticed several new high-tech informations kiosks placed throughout the building. They're about the height of a person, feature a touchscreen interface and are able to provide a wealth of information about the building and its services.   

The City enlisted the help of two tech firms—Calgary-based YouRhere and Transit Screen, a company that operates out of the United States—to assist with the project. The former created the transit screen that's located close to the building's entrance. The unit provide real-time information on transit services like the TTC, Go Transit and Bike Share Toronto. 

Each kiosk also has a variety of accessibility features built-in—the electronic directory, for instance, is able to lower its menu when someone in a wheelchair attempts to operate it—and both support a variety of languages, including English, French and Spanish. 

"The City has been focusing on enhancing customer service and providing smart transportation information to residents and businesses for some time," says Natasha Hinds Fitzsimmins, a spokesperson for the City of Toronto. "The introduction of the Interactive Electronic Directory and Transit Screen technology pilots at City Hall is a key component of that work."

According to Fitzsimminis, the City plans to test each of the kiosks over the course of the next year. During this time, it will look for ways to refine the information that each unit provides and solicit feedback from  the general public. Once that process is done, it will hold a competitive bid process to find a company that will the necessary transit data and units. 

Who's hiring in Toronto? Artscape, Covenant House, Tucows and more...

The youth homeless shelter Covenant House is hiring a writer. This person will be expected to craft compelling copy for the variety of newsletters and articles the organization publishes on a regular basis. A minimum five years of experience, as well as a degree in public relations, communications or journalism, is required to be considered for this position. The deadline to apply is July 20th.

Tucows, one of Toronto's older publicly traded Internet companies, is adding developers to its team. According to Tucows' job posting, the majority of the position involves the design and development of backend applications. Given that, knowledge of coding languages like PHP, Perl and Python is considered an asset. Check out the company's posting on the Ladies Learning Code job board (linked above) for more information. The company is also hiring a senior user experience designer.

On the culture front, Artscape is hiring multiple supervisors to oversee its Wychwood Barns venue. As with other positions of this type, much of the role involves ensuring the safe and orderly operation of the building in question. In terms of experience, the well-regarded organization is looking for someone that has extensive knowledge of the hospitality industry, knows a thing or two about food safety and has excellent an excellent set of interpersonal skills. Applications should be submitted by July 23rd.

Lastly, the Gardiner Museum—that's the museum that is devoted to ceramics across from the ROM—is hiring a senior manager of marketing. The person that takes on this role will be required to manage the museum's print, online and social media presence. A minimum of five years of experience  in past marketing and communications roles in the arts or non-profit space is required to be considered for this position. July 29th is the last day applications will be accepted.

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

Peel Region teens launch coding school for high school students

"My first experience with creating technologies was when I was 13," says Jevin Sidhu, the 15 year old co-founder of Project Cipher, a recently-launched coding school in Peel Region. "I coded my first website using HTML and CSS and it was incredibly [rudimentary], but it was my piece of the Internet and it was breathtaking to conceptualize that anyone with Internet could access my amateur creation."

Project Cipher started as a way for Sidhu to help his friends learn how to code. His co-founders wanted to learn how to code, but found that coding bootcamps and online courses weren't practical for high school students. 

"We thought about what these resources didn’t execute correctly and realized they didn’t provide an engaging environment, which was something school did really well," says Sidhu.

"Students are constantly helping each other out, whether that means studying for tests, completing projects and finishing off homework. We found in-person, working alongside others towards a similar goal is the most effective way of learning."

The initiative has a couple of features that distinguish it from other coding programs, says Sidhu. The main one is that the goal of the group's initial workshop is not provide high school students with an exhaustive coding education; instead, it's to give them a taste of what it's like to create something with a couple lines of code. 

To that end, the group is hosting a conference on August 20th that will give students an opportunity to see what the program is all about.  

Set to be held at Brampton City Hall, the one day conference will feature speakers from various startups and established companies, as well as freelancers. According to Sidhu, more than 500 students have expressed 

He goes on to say that the goal of the conference is to "promote and provide exposure for computer science through engaging talks and activities." On the same day, he and his co-founders plan to launch their Circles program. 

In the meantime, Project Cipher is attempting to find funding partners and more student leaders. 

High school students and parents can find out more about Project Cipher and the at its website

Who's hiring in Toronto? Studio Y, Convenant House and more

Innovation incubator MaRS is hiring a new director to take over its Studio Y program. This is an exceptional opportunity to take lead on an innovative and high-impact program that helps youth develop skills that will help them for the rest of their lives. Requirements are high for this role: only those with 10 years of experience and an exceptional resume will be considered. Moreover, well-developed relationships with various levels of government and organization are a must. The deadline to apply is next Monday, July 13th, so get those resumes in soon.

Youth homeless shelter Covenant House is adding a senior development officer to its team. The majority of this role involves seeking out and securing charitable donations from individuals, companies and foundations. As such, much of the job involves developing and writing funding proposals, as well as reaching out to donors. Knowledge in Microsoft Office and Raiser’s Edge are a must, with excellent interpersonal skills and an ability to reach lofty fundraising goals also implicit. Resumes should be submitted by July 13.

On the tech side of things, Junction Triangle-based FreshBooks is adding a new product manager to its team. The role involves helping the accounting firm ship products, of course, but FreshBooks mostly wants someone who's great at talking and listening to customers. A history of successful product launches is a undoubtedly a significant asset. No specific deadline to submit applications is listed.

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