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Mississauga : Innovation + Job News

53 Mississauga Articles | Page: | Show All

Ontario spending $6.8m on campus-based accelerator programs

The provincial government continues to unroll elements of its youth jobs strategy. The latest announcement came recently from Reza Moridi, minister of research and innovation. The program is called Campus-Linked Accelerators (CLAs), and the goal is to help student entrepreneurs "harness their ideas, their vision and their enthusiasm and turn them into jobs for today and for tomorrow," he said in a statement outlining the initiative.

CLAs will provide funding to select post-secondary institutions across Ontario t"o create, improve and sustain a culture of entrepreneurship among students and youth in their regions, and to integrate these entrepreneurial activities with investors, industry, and other stakeholders in their region. The Toronto-area institutions to receive funding under the program:
  • The University of Toronto, which will receive just over $3 million in funding over two years. That money will be distributed across the university's existing accelerator programs: the Creative Destruction Lab (Rotman School of Management); the Hatchery (at the faculty of applied science and engineering); the Impact Centre (based in the faculty of arts and science); and UTEST (the university's Innovation and Partnerships Office). U of T’s Banting and Best Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will also be involved, coordinating efforts at the three different campuses.
  • Centennial College, which is partnering with ventureLAB (a non-profit regional innovation centre). Their goal is to help support the creation of 60 businesses in the coming two years, and they will be focusing their work on several priority neighbourhoods within Toronto, to try to reach youth who might not have ready access to accelerator opportunities otherwise.
  • Ryerson University is receiving $2 million from the CLA program, and will use the money to support existing entrepreneurial programs, as well as to create "new learning zones includ[ing] the Design and Fabrication Zone, focusing on early stage design and technology; a zone in the new Student Learning Centre; and the Biomedical Zone, to be formed in partnership with St. Michael’s Hospital."
  • OCAD University, which is getting nearly $1 million to support its entrepreneurship and commercialization hub, called the Imagination Catalyst. (As we reported this spring, the Imagination Catalyst also includes a specific stream for social enterprise.)

Across the province the government is planning to put a total of $20 million into CLA programs over the next two years.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Ministry of Research and Innovation, University of Toronto, Centennial College, Ryerson University, OCAD University

Federal government announces $11.4M in job support for those with autism

"People with developmental disabilities have much to contribute in the Canadian labour market. Yet, existing research suggests that the rate of employment among this population is much lower than it needs to be."

That was the comment from Dr. David Nicholas, associate professor of social work at the University of Calgary, upon hearing the news that the federal government will be investing in new job support for youth with autism spectrum disorders.

Announced as part of the federal budget, the government is investing $11.4 million over four years in a program called CommunityWorks Canada.

The program is modelled on one that is currently available in Calgary. The funding will go to developing a national network of cities that offer similar services. Program participants, who range in age from 12 to 24, will work on developing key social, communications, and problem-solving skills that are essential in any employment environment. The program is delivered via one-on-one peer mentoring, and the ultimate goal is to equip participants with the capacity to pursue work successfully, and live more independent lives.

Some details are still in the works, but a representative from the Etobicoke-based
Autism Speaks Canada—which will be operating the program in partnership with the Calgary-based Sinneave Family Foundation—told us that the plan is to have two or three of the new centres open within the next two years, and a total of six centres (including the original Calgary location) open in four years. Organizers are hoping to ramp up to 1,200 participants per year, across all of the locations.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Carrie Habert, Marketing Director, Autism Speaks Canada

U of T opens new plastics research centre

Earlier this month, the University of Toronto opened a new plastics research facility at its Mississauga campus. The Centre for Industrial Application of Microcellular Plastics (CIAMP) is dedicated to developing innovative plastic foaming technologies, with a strong focus on their commercial applications.

CIAMP's director is U of T engineering professor Chul Park and foamed plastics are his area of expertise. In a statement announcing the centre's opening, he explained that the goal is to work with commercial partners to develop "lighter weight, stronger plastics that use less raw material."

The centre is set up to conduct large-scale experimentation that will help researchers understand the industrial applications of the technologies they work on, which is key to bringing new materials to market effectively. Commercial uses, Park says, range from the construction and automotive industries to use in household electronics.

CIAMP got off the ground with the help of $9.2 million from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: CIAMP

New Mississauga aerospace facility hiring 50

Sumitimo Precision Products, a Japanese company dating back to 1961 that manufactures everything from hydraulic controls and environmental systems to micro technology (such as silicon etching systems), announced last fall that it would be opening a new facility in Mississauga that is set to become the headquarters of the company's aerospace division. And this month came news of progress on that front: the Mississauga site is now set to hire for 50 new positions with the help of the provincial government.

Ontario is providing SPP Canada Aircraft with a loan of $3.25 million. SPP is investing about $50 million in the facility overall.

Shinichi Nakamura, president of SPP Canada, highlighted the existing knowledge base in aerospace technology and manufacturing in Ontario when making this recent announcement. SPP's Mississauga facility will focus primarily on landing gear.

According to the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, about 40 per cent of the world's commercial landing gear is manufactured in the province. This has ripple effects on other local manufacturers. SPP currently sources about a third of its component parts for landing gear systems in Ontario, a number that will grow as this new facility hits its stride.

"From this base," Nakamura said in a press statement, "Sumitomo looks forward to offering an expanded suite of products and services to our North American aerospace customers."

Among the positions SPP is seeking to feel are logistics experts, procurement specialists, and account managers.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Ministry of Economic Development and Trade

BufferBox acquired by Google

It was only a few weeks ago that we told you about BufferBox, a new network of parcel pick-up stations had just launched in the Toronto area. With a growing list of stations—they're up to about 14 in Toronto and Mississauga and have more going in by the end of the year—and a contract with Metrolinx to help target commuters, things seemed promising for the new startup.

And now, they are looking even more exciting. BufferBox has just announced it has been acquired by Google. Neither BufferBox nor Google would confirm the financial details, but TechCrunch is reporting the purchase price was in the neighbourhood of $17 million.

BufferBox services are free until year's end. When paid service begins they expect they'll be charging $3 or $4 per delivery. The goal is to have approximately 100 stations in the GTA by the end of 2013. Google, meanwhile, is likely looking for a challenger the Amazon Locker parcel delivery program (which is not available in Canada), and is hoping that BufferBox can expand and scale quickly.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Brad Moggach, Sales & Marketing Director, BufferBox; TechCrunch

New grant will help medical technologies businesses expand into foreign markets

The federal government is investing in a new support program for small- and medium-sized medical technology companies hoping to expand their reach.

MP Ted Opitz (Etobicoke Centre) made the announcement earlier this month: $990,000 is being granted to Etobicoke-based MEDEC, a medical technology association, to disburse to southern Ontario businesses in increments of up to $30,000 each. Those grants, says MEDEC-CMMA executive director Mary Palmer, will enable the recipients to grow by helping them increase their presence in foreign markets.

The program is officially called New Horizon; recipients will each receive cost-sharing grants for eligible expenses in export development. Those grants will be geared to small companies who have never exported their products before, or to those who have but wish to pursue new markets. Among the kind of costs this grant might cover Palmer lists: "hiring a foreign consultant to do a feasibility assessment... it could be use to help get their product registered, do marketing materials for the foreign markets." In short, everything from technical and operational elements to promotion may be included. The key, Palmer says, is to add "incrementality" to the companies' business plans—to add capacity and help them do more rather than to defray the costs of their current operations.

The grants are expected to lead to the creation of up to 30 new jobs, encompassing everyone from scientific and technological experts to operations support and marketing staff. Eligibility and selection criteria are online; an online application process is expected to launch by early November.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Mary Palmer, Executive Director, MEDEC-CMMA

Prolucid wins $887,820 in funding to demonstrate smart grid management system

Increasing the amount of energy we get from renewable sources—an aspiration that was once the province of idealists—has become a much more common goal in recent years, one trotted out by politicians of many different partisan stripes. But as the pressure to move to sustainable energy grows, so too do the technical challenges in implementing the needed new technologies effectively, and on a large scale.

One of these challenges: because renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, are less consistent and predictable than their traditional counterparts, energy companies are reluctant to rely on them for a significant percentage of their power. How do you manage on a cloudy day or a still one, if you need constant source of power to keep the grid up and running?

Hoping to help solve this is Prolucid Technologies, a Mississauga software engineering firm that has just received nearly $900,000 in funding from Ontario's Smart Grid Fund. That money will support a two-year demonstration project in which the company will install its power grid management platform, including both hardware and software, at Exhibition Place.

"The goal," says company president Bob Leigh, "is to monitor the state of the local grid, keeping tabs on both the amount of energy being used as well as the amount being produced by the various local power producers—solar panels, wind turbines, or other."

This effort will help combat the problem power companies face with managing the more erratic renewable energy sources.

"By actively monitoring the system and having the ability to control its various components on the fly, we hope to increase the amount of renewable generation that can be connected to the local grid beyond the current low limits," says Leigh. Exhibition Place, he explains, makes the perfect testing ground because it already has a mix of energy sources on-site, most famously, it's large wind turbine.

Prolucid currently has nine staff members, and will double in size to manage this new project: they are currently hiring for five positions, and expect to hire for an additional three later this year, when the demonstration period begins. They have also announced the creation of a new offshoot, Prolucid LocalGrid Technologies Inc., which will work on bringing the company's technology to market.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Bob Leigh, President, Prolucid Technologies Inc.

New research & manufacturing facility in Mississauga will double Therapure Biopharma staff to 200

Two years ago, Yonge Street reported on a $27.9-million expansion planned by Therapure Biopharma of its biomanufacturing facility in Mississauga. Late last month, that facility officially opened to pursue research and manufacturing of protein-based bioproducts to meet global demand to treat infectious diseases.

The facility was completed with the help of a $4.2-million grant from the provincial ministry of Economic Development and Innovation. "Ontario's support for Therapure has built upon our strengths in research and manufacturing to help its global clients bring new, innovative medical treatments to patients," said Minister Brad Duguid in a statement.

The company expects the new capacity will double its staff over the next two years to about 200. The company has long been on a growth trajectory: from 13 employees in 2007 to 100 today. "Therapure is thrilled to officially celebrate the opening of its additional Custom Biologics Manufacturing Wing, which will enhance the company's ability to be an international leader in biomanufacturing and meet the needs of a growing market," said company president and CEO Nick Green in the announcement.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Innovation Brad Duguid; Thomas Wellner, former president and CEO, Therapure Biopharma Inc.

Rosehill launches wine-rack design and manufacturing facility in Mississauga

"Years ago, I was a hired general contractor," says Gary LaRose, "and I got a commission to do a wine cellar."

The experience of the building project sparked a love affair with wine, he says, leading him to take "about 10 wine courses and become an avid collector." His passion and his business merged when 17 years ago he decided to specialize in building wine cellars, founding Rosehill Wine Cellars.

That collected experience led him finally to the recent opening of a dedicated wine-rack manufacturing facility in Mississauga, the first of its kind in Canada, unveiled publicly through press announcements this month after two years of preparations and testing.

"It takes a while to set it all up," LaRose says, noting the gradual collection of robotics and computer design equipment. Now the facility is operating at full speed, serving custom orders from across Canada and around the world. Rosehill may soon start seeking dealer arrangements with agents to compliment its online sales and Toronto retail store. "I didn't want to do this until the factory was ready," LaRose says.

At the factory and in Rosehill's Etobicoke retail location, LaRose now employs 17 staff in what is a growing, highly specialized area of industrial home design. "It's actually a very specialized subfield," he says. "You have to think like a wine collector—what types of wines will it house, the size of the bottles, displays.... Some people buy only by the case, some have lots of magnums of champagne, some will have no magnums. And then you need to know how to refrigerate the room, and build your racking all around it."

He says Rosehill has grown with the growing interest in food and drink appreciation over the past decade.

"At one time the people who would hire us were avid collectors looking to make a perfect home for their collections," he says. "Now it's quite a lot of people who just have a big home and are interested in starting a collection—they want to build the home first and add the wine collection later."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Gary LaRose, Owner, Rosehill Wine Cellars 

Eco-friendly, water-free on-demand car wash service Washly launches in Mississauga

Karan Walia was working at his cousin's startup company GoClean—a waterless car-washing product that hit it big on the CBC program Dragon's Den and wound up in Canadian Tire stores—when he was struck by inspiration.

"I realized while I was there that it was a big inconvenience to drivers to go out to the car wash, and they'd often spend a lot of time there waiting in line," he says. "And most car washes use an average of 300 litres of clean drinking water, while our waterless process uses less than 170 millilitres, so there are major eco-benefits."

The resulting company, launched last week in Mississauga, is Washly, a service that allows people to park their cars in a publicly accessible spot, call or check in online using a computer or smartphone, and have experienced car detailers arrive to wash their car using the waterless system.

Walia, the company CEO, and his business partner, CTO Aysar Khalid, have financed the project themselves. "I guess in the startup world they'd say we're bootstrapping," Walia says. They work with six licensees, experienced car detailers, who do the washing. Walia says that in the first week demand has been high—they're already planning their expansion.

"We're getting a lot of calls from people in Toronto, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, so the demand is there," he says. "We're moving quickly to offer our service in Toronto by mid-April."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Karan Walia, CEO, Washly

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

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

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

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

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

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

Switchable Solutions' Mississauga test recycling facility could create 5 jobs this year

Switchable Solutions, a startup that formed to commercialize technology developed at Queen's University in Kingston and developed by Greencentre Canada, is working to open an innovative recycling test facility in Mississauga.

President and CEO Mark Badger says the plant will begin operating in late 2012, and could employ about five employees when it opens. "The nature of these things is to start small and scale up," he says. "So we'll grow from there."

The company will use the plant to demonstrate its plastic waste recycling process, which can recycle expanded polystyrene plastic waste, including packaging foam and coffee cups. In tests, the company claims, their process produces materials "displaying similar characteristics to virgin polystyrene." Formed last year, the company is headed by Badger, a former head of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association. In addition to the recycling process, they are testing a process to process bitumen from oilsands while creating fewer toxic byproducts.

Switchable Solutions completed an equity offering last November that generated $3.23 million, and Badger says that recently announced federal development funding of $5.48 million to Switchable Solutions and GreenCentre Canada will help the demonstration plant's progress. "Some of that funding is destined for the plastics recycling facility," Badger says.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Mark Badger, President and CEO, Switchable Solutions

Video software innovators Seawell Networks closes $5M funding round, will expand by 10-12 staff

Mississauga's Seawell Networks recently announced the closing of a $5-million Series B funding round, which Seawell VP Andy Beach says will finance the video software company's rapid growth.

"We're at a stage where we're expanding the company to get into the market in a larger way," Beach says. "This funding will allow us to do that."

Seawell was founded in late 2008 to help solve some problems for network operators with delivering video to various devices. Seawell's technology allows operators a system to provide video with a better user experience, and gives them more control over various elements of the streaming process, including the display of ads.

The company has grown, Beach says, from about 20 staff to 28 in the past 12 months, and expects to hire another 10 to 12 in the coming year, including sales and marketing staff and developers.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Andy Beach, VP Marketing and Product, Seawell Networks

GlaxoSmithKline launches $50-million innovation fund in Toronto

Earlier this year, we reported that pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline was ramping up its Canadian presence by expanding its Mississauga facility and adding 70 new staff. On Nov. 10, the company announced that its expanded footprint in Canada would also include a significant investment in research, with the launch of its $50-million GSK Health Sciences Canada Innovation Fund.

In the announcement, the company said the investment dollars would spur the industry in Canada, helping to close the "innovation gap."

"We're excited by the prospect of developing even closer ties with leading research organizations across Canada to enhance opportunities for innovation and create new high-value jobs," said GSK president and CEO Paul Lucas. 

According to the company, the fund will provide direct investment to academic and research organizations involved in "early-stage research" in the health sciences sector, particularly academic and health institutions, translational research centres and start-up companies.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Anna Robinson, for GlaxoSmithKline

Mississauga unveils 10-point plan to become centre of creativity and innovation

Job one for the City of Mississauga is to "establish a Mississauga Innovation Leadership Alliance comprising leaders from the private sector, post-secondary institutions, and the city that can provide strategic direction, support and commitment to overseeing initiatives designed to strengthen the innovation economy in Mississauga," according to a report commissioned by the city and its Research, Innovation and Commercialization Centre (RIC).

The report, entitled "A 10-point Action Plan for Innovation in Mississauga," was unveiled late last month. Pam Banks of the RIC said in announcing the strategy that it will "get more of the Mississauga business community, in particular, involved in fast-tracking innovation" in Canada's sixth-largest city.

Thought of by some in downtown Toronto as a primarily suburban municipality, Mississauga has recently become a hub for the pharmaceuticals industry, among others. Despite this blossoming innovation culture, according to the report, the city still lacks "a meeting place to promote connectivity and a coherent approach to better capitalize on the post-secondary assets for training, education and R&D purposes."

The plans focuses on building a hub organization to connect business and academia, fostering research and development clusters, nurturing a talent stream to develop entrepreneurs and create jobs, and marketing the city as an innovation hotspot.

According to the RIC, meetings this month will examine how to begin implementing the strategy.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Jana Schilder for the Mississauga RIC Centre
53 Mississauga Articles | Page: | Show All
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