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Meet Pillsy, the smartpouch that will ensure you never forget to take the Pill again

In Canada and the United States, 15 million women rely on oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy — yet one in 10 of these women will become pregnant during their first year on the Pill, mostly because they take it irregularly or forget to take it completely. These statistics demonstrated a need for University of Toronto MASc students Eric Ma and Tony Zhang, and PhD candidate Valentin Peretroukhin, to come up with the idea for Pillsy, a smart pouch to help women consistently take their birth control pills.

The pouch, which is outfitted with sensors, stores the pills and detects if the user has actually taken the pill. The pouch then communicates this to the user’s smartphone via BA luetooth, and doesn’t require any manual input.

Currently, the project is undergoing beta testing, while the student group behind the project will move on to a Kickstarter campaign in 2016.

“We chose Kickstarter as it will provide further market validation as well as increased funding,” says Courtney Smith, a student working on the Pillsy project and an MPH candidate at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “Kickstarter is known to be popular among our target demographic of young women and their partners, so this will serve as a cost-effective mechanism for organic advertising.”

While the pouch is being marketed to women who use birth control, eventually the group will expand to other pill markets. “It is definitely our plan to expand to other time-sensitive medications in the future like heart disease medications, especially as new generations of older adults become more and more tech savvy,” says Smith.


Nanoleaf launches Indiegogo for HomeKit-enabled smart bulb

Nanoleaf, a Toronto-based green tech startup, has developed the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit, what the company calls “the most energy-efficient light build in the world.”

Currently, Apple is moving into the smart home industry with its HomeKit offering — a framework for developers that allows communication and control for connected accessories in a user’s home — and Nanoleaf has received one of the first seals of approval from Apple to develop their Smarter Kit using the HomeKit.

The Smarter Kit allows users to control the lights in a user’s home with Siri voice commands, set lights in interesting ways depending on the context (such as dimmed lights for a date night) and the ability to control lights with customized names; for example, one could turn off the lights in “Sarah’s room” only.

Nanoleaf CTO Anders Ohrn says that the company chose to integrate Apple HomeKit into their product, instead of making their own app, to remain competitive in the smart home evolution. “By integrating the Smarter Kit with the Apple HomeKit protocol, it’s possible to control the lights with voice commands like ‘set bedroom lights to 20 percent’” says Ohrn. “Too many devices on the market are incompatible with other devices, which force people to buy products from only that manufacturer. HomeKit is an opportunity to be part of something bigger.”

The light also has a unique geometric shape — a design that Ohrn says is not just to look cool. “Merging the worlds of design and engineering has always been an integral part of our creation process,” says Ohrn. “What most people don't know is that the dodecahedron shape is more than just aesthetics, there are also many technical benefits for the user. The shape gives the bulb its own heat dissipation system as well as 360 degrees of equal light distribution without any inefficiencies.”

Who’s hiring in Toronto? TIFF, The Ontario Chiropractic Association and Ubisoft

Some of the more interesting employment opportunities we've spotted this week include:

The Ontario Chiropractic Association, a voluntary professional organization for Ontario-based chiropractors, is looking for an outreach lead. The outreach lead will oversee the volunteer program and drive outreach by recruiting OCA volunteers, organize volunteer mobilization and oversee grassroots advocacy. The ideal candidate has at least four years experience working in a volunteer management capacity and a university degree in communications, political science or related field. Applications are due November 6.

TIFF, the not-for-profit arts organization behind the Toronto International Film Festival, is seeking applicants for a creative technology lead. The position entails working on front-end design for tiff.net, ensuring development execution aligns with TIFF’s digital media strategy and working with IT to refine a dependable interface for front and back-end code on tiff.net. The ideal candidate should have at least five years of front-end development, a degree or diploma in a related field and advanced knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite, HTML, CSS and Javascript. Applications are due October 30.

Ubisoft, the company behind popular game titles like Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed, is looking for an assistant art director for their Toronto location. Working closely with the art director, the assistant art director will be responsible for communicating content and quality expectations to the graphics team, writing graphics quality reports for the art director and participating in the creation of the artistic-graphic charter with the art director. Applicants should have at least eight years of experience in modeling, texture and lighting and a college diploma in modeling for video games. There is no hard deadline.

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


TD Green Streets taking applications for innovative urban forest projects

This month, TD Green Streets — a flagship program of non-profit Tree Canada — kicks off for TD Green Streets 2016. Until November 30, Green Streets is looking for proposals for innovative projects aimed at growing or caring for urban forests.

Green Streets is the only national grant program in Canada focused on urban forestry, and since 1994 it has awarded funding to almost 500 Canadian municipalities across the country. This year, 12 recipients will receive $25,000 in grant funding. The initiative is driven by the fact that caring for and fostering urban forestry is more difficult than most people think, according to Tree Canada president Michael Rosen.

“Some people think they just grow out of the sidewalk or they’re just there, but it requires a lot of maintenance, planning and work,” said Rosen. “So we’re looking for projects that are going to establish and maintain these trees, and have them grow into an old age.”

The need for a program dedicated to fostering urban forestry also stems from the fact that most Canadians live in highly-populated urban centres.“About 82 per cent of Canadians are now living in cities and towns that are basically urban in character,” said Rosen. “And what we’re finding is that municipalities are making more of an effort to ensure that trees are part of the infrastructure of cities.”

Funded projects in the past include a creative way of capturing and using water runoff in "Silva cells," filtering it through soil to clean it in underground units, and then providing water for the trees above in Mississauga’s Central Parkway Rain Garden. “Trees are important wherever they are. Even when they’re far away from urban centres, they’re still performing a wonderful environmental function,” said Rosen. “But trees in urban areas are that much closer to people, and they’re that much more significant to humans.”


OCAD University will be part of waterfront revitalization

Discussions on waterfront revitalization have been a hot topic as of late, and last week news broke that OCAD University and other innovators would be part of the revival.

City of the Arts, a waterfront condo development, is intended to become a mixed-use “live, work and play” neighbourhood. OCAD University will occupy space in the neighbourhood, and reap the benefits of Artscape Launchpad, an incubator for creative professionals.

Artscape Launchpad is described as being “part incubator, part coworking space”, and will provide design professionals with resources and mentorship to build sustainable businesses. As George Brown College is also setting up their School of Design at the waterfront — and the OCAD University and George Brown schools will be working as partners — the presence of the two postsecondary institutions alongside Launchpad will foster a creative community. “When artists and designers converge on a place, they tend to build or infiltrate networks and find ways to leave their mark on it. Part of this stems from a need to find an audience/outlet/market from their creative expression,” said Tim Jones, Artscape president and CEO. “There are positive cultural, social and economic outcomes that flow from their interactions. The cluster becomes a magnet for other innovators, and in the real estate market one finds that galleries, cafes and specialty retailers often follow their lead. All of this leads not only to the physical transformation of a neighbourhood but to a new narrative or identity for it.”

OCAD students will be able to leverage the presence of Artscape to strengthen its own burgeoning art community. “OCAD University’s Campus for a Connected World will amplify the institution’s digitally-focused learning, research and creation, as well as its connection to industry and community partners,” said Dr. Sara Diamond, OCAD University’s president. “OCAD University sees this as an ideal environment to address the challenges and opportunities of the connected world of machine to machine communication - ensuring  that human imagination is in the equation of this future and that values such as social and cultural inclusion, creativity, beauty and great design are core.”

Diamond added that the location will expand on OCAD University’s emphasis on experiential learning. “What is exciting about this project is our plan to create a virtual circle with our industrial and not-for-profit partners,” said Diamond. “Focused on combining excellence in creative education with experiential learning and entrepreneurship, OCAD University is uniquely prepared to train the workforce that will power the 21st century’s digitally connected innovation economy.”


Who’s hiring in Toronto? Klick Health, Lighthouse Labs and more...

Some of the more interesting employment opportunities we've spotted this week include:

The Centre for Equitable Library Access, a newly-launched national non-profit that assists public libraries in serving customers with print disabilities, is looking for a communications manager. Working with the executive director, the communications manager would be responsible for managing content on social media, maintaining contacs with key outlets in the accessibility community and creating press releases. The ideal candidate, who would have a university degree or college diploma in communications and at least two years of experience in communications and marketing, would have to apply by November 8.

Klick Health, a Toronto-based digital marketing agency, is on the hunt for their next front-end web developer. The developer would be in charge of developing custom client side components of web pages and sites, accurately translating designs from the creative department to HTML/CSS and developing cross-platform mobile-responsive emails. To qualify, the developer should have at least three years experience developing HTML-based web content and experience with modern HTML, CSS and JavaScript. There is no fixed application deadline.

Lighthouse Labs, a coding school, is looking for a full-time education administrator. The administrator is expected to recruit new teachers to Lighthouse Labs’ team, schedule teachers and mentors and organize official documentation for both students and teachers. Having at least a year of HR or recruiting experience and administrative work is considered an asset. To be considered, ensure that you apply by December 18.

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


Upverter launches Parts Concierge, a real-time virtual assistant for engineers

In an age of Uber and Airbnb, tech startups everywhere are in the business of disrupting traditional industries that are slow to change, and making them more efficient, faster, and of course, cheaper.

This is exactly what Zak Homuth, founder of Upverter, did with the launch of the company’s Parts Concierge service. Upverter, which already works to make hardware engineers’ lives easier through their cloud-engineering platform, established Parts Concierge as a “virtual assistant for engineers”. With Parts Concierge, hardware engineers can request any part to be built on Upverter and added to the design on their behalf. This process can normally take weeks — as engineers have to wait for unique parts to be built and shipped before continuing with their design — and costly mistakes are only found once the manufacturing is done.

Once a unique part is made using Parts Concierge, it’s added to the library to make it easier for other engineers to access instead of having different engineers constantly request the same parts. “We looked at our stats, and the very first thing everyone did when they tried Upverter was to search for a part,” said Homuth. “If they found the part, there was a pretty good chance they’d stick around. And if they didn’t there was a pretty good chance they’d leave.”  

While Upverter wasn’t originally focused on the parts industry, the stats had Homuth thinking that this is something that his company could tackle. “We couldn’t just build every part in the world, but maybe we could build every part that a user needed fast enough that it would be like it was there in the first place.”

Homuth said that the reason why the hardware industry has been so slow to develop a comparable service is because it is still largely dominated by offline desktop software. The cloud, however, is disrupting this industry. “To provide a service like the parts concierge users would have had to email someone, ask for a part, the service provider would then have to make the part in the right format, and then email the part back. Most engineers would probably wonder why not just do it themselves,” said Homuth. “It just wouldn't work as well without the cloud. It would feel very rough and inefficient.”


Dimitri Nakassis becomes first University of Toronto professor to receive MacArthur Fellowship

Dimitri Nakassis, a University of Toronto professor in the department of classics, is the first U of T professor to win the MacArthur Fellowship, colloquially known as a “genius grant”.

The award comes from the John D. and Catherine T.  MacArthur Foundation, an independent foundation dedicated to supporting creative people and institutions. The grant recognizes the potential of people that “show extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits,” according to the Foundation. MacArthur Fellows receive $650,000 through the grant, and they can use the award to advance their expertise, take on new work, or event follow an entirely new career path. However, Nakassis isn’t sure how he’ll use the money just yet. “The grant is both an affirmation that people see value in my work and an invitation to do something new and innovative, so I don't want to rush into anything,” he said. “I will only have one crack at this, so I need to think carefully about the best use of the money, one that will have maximum impact on the study of the ancient Greek world.”

According to the Foundation’s website, Nakassis was recognized for changing long-held views on prehistoric Greek societies. Most notably, Nakassis challenged the long-held view that Late Bronze Age Mycenaean palatial society (1400–1200 BC) was a highly centralized oligarchy, distinct from the democratic city-states of classical Greece. Instead, he proposes that power and resources were more broadly shared, and is currently testing his hypothesis in an archaeological survey. His ideas came from a reinterpretation of Pylos’s administrative and accounting records found on clay tablets written in the early Greek script, Linear B.
Nakassis says that his passion for both classics and archaeology is what made it possible for him to study Linear B in the way he did.  “Classics is a discipline that encourages you to find solutions to the study of the ancient past that aren't necessarily specific to any one discipline. If you wanted to work on the economy of ancient Greece, for example, you couldn't limit yourself only to archaeology, nor could you ignore archaeology altogether,” he said. “So it's a discipline that really encourages interdisciplinarity, even if that's not how every Classicist ends up operating.”
And while the Fellowship celebrates individuals who display creativity in their work, Nakassis just credits his “super-critical eye”. In his work, he always tries to ask others how they know something is 100 percent true to try to probe weak arguments, while also taking into account the criticism of his colleagues. “Anytime someone says that something is ‘clearly’ or ‘obviously’ true, alarm bells go off in my head: these are, to me, props for a weak argument,” he said. “The other thing that helps is talking to other critical people about what you're thinking. Sometimes I can allow myself to settle into an argument that's conventional, and friends and colleagues will usually point out to me that I can push it forward. You need people who are willing to challenge you, too.”

Who's hiring in Toronto? Kids Help Phone, Lighthouse Labs and more...

Some of the more interesting employment opportunities we've spotted this week include:

Kids Help Phone is seeking a marketing manager. The person that takes on this role will be expected to lead the organization's marketing efforts, both conceptualizing new projects and tracking their progress and effectiveness. A minimum of five years of experience in a related field is required to be considered for the position. Applications should be submitted by October 21.

Kids Help Phone is also looking for a public relations manager. Much of the role involves creating content for the organization, as well as establishing and maintaining relationships with outside entities. Kids Help Phone is looking for a candidate with a post-secondary degree in journalism, communications or a related field. In addition, anyone applying for the position should have five years of experience in their field, as well as competency in both English and French. The deadline to apply for this position in October 13.

Lighthouse Labs is hiring a mentor to help lead its full-stack development bootcamp. The local coding academy is looking for an individual with two to three years of professional programming experience and knowledge of open source programming languages like Ruby and Python. Teaching and public speaking experience are considered excellent supplementary skills. Resumes should be submitted by October 31.

The Drake Hotel is hiring a digital media coordinator. The bootique hotel’s ideal candidate is someone who will be able to take all the data and content that’s produced by the hotel and turn it into useful information that can help it make sound business decisions. In terms of qualifications, it is looking for someone understands the ins and outs of SEO and platforms like Google Adsense and Analytics.

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

Spacefy wants to help Toronto's creatives find spaces for their projects

A new Toronto startup wants to help the city's local artists create their art. 

Describing itself as "an Airbnb for the creative industry," Spacefy gives creatives from musicians to photographers an online platform to find spaces for their creative endeavours. 

If the concept behind Spacefy sounds familiar, it's because a similar service called SpaceFinder Toronto launched earlier in the year. The crucial difference here is that Spacefy was started by a group of three Canadians: Judeh Siwady, Alyas Ali and Moya Semaan.  

As of its recent launch, the company's website already includes hundreds of creative spaces across the city, including some well-known ones like the Phase One recording studio and Cube Nightclub near Queen and Spadina. That said, like the service that inspired it, Spacefy was designed to help creators from across disciplines. So, while it's possible to rent a $10,000 per-day venue through the site, many of the spaces found on Spacefy start at a far more reasonable $25 per hour. 

Spacefy plans to expand to Vancouver in the near future. 

Ladies Learning Code launches crowdfunding campaign to launch Canada's first coding truck

Ladies Learning Code (LLC), one of the city's leading organizations devoted to helping women and youth learn how to code, is attempting to crowdfund its latest effort to spread digital literacy. 

The group has started an Indiegogo campaign to launch code:mobile, "Canada's first coding truck". Since launching last week, the crowdfunding campaign has already raised over $20,000. With more than a month to go, Ladies Learning Code is attempting to raise $50,000 to make the initiative a reality. 

Should the project get funded, code:mobile will travel across Canada, visiting all 22 cities Ladies Learning Code has expanded to since getting started in Toronto, as well as other communities both large and small. The plan is to stop at local parks, community centres, street festivals, hospitals — basically anywhere the truck can park — and, in the words of Ladies Learning Code, inspire kids to be passionate builders, not just consumers, of technology. 

“The code:mobile is our big bold move to inspire the next generation of technologists,” said Laura Plant, the organization's co-executive director. “Since its inception in 2011, Ladies Learning Code has held over 600 workshops and events and reached over 24,000 learners across the country and we keep wanting to push that impact. In May, we announced a goal to teach 200,000 Canadian women and youth to code by 2020 and the code:mobile will help us make a big dent in our goal.”

Who's hiring in Toronto? Second Harvest, Camp Tech and more...

OCAD University is hiring a new program manager to take stewardship of its Imagination Catalyst startup incubator. Tasked with meeting the needs of the university, funders and, most importantly, the individuals that take part in the program, the person that takes on this role will be tasked with ensuring the sustainability of growth of the Imagination Catalyst. In addition, a lot of the position will involve advising the entrepreneurs that take part in the program — sometimes giving them the advice they don't want to hear. The University is looking for someone with five plus years of entrepreneurial experience to lead the program. The deadline to apply is September 23
Camp Tech, an excellent local organization that provides courses on digital literacy, is hiring an email marketing and MailChimp instructor. For four hours each month, you'll be asked to lead a group of beginners through what it means to run a marketing campaign with MailChimp. As such, a strong level of competence with the platform is required, as is a familiarity with Canada's recently implemented anti-spam legislation. Camp Tech's posting is fairly strict on the first requirement; understanding of other email marketing platforms like Constant Contact and Mad Mimi is fine, but not required or something that can be substituted for experience with MailChimp. Applications are due this Friday, September 18
Lastly, food rescue organization Second Harvest is hiring an events and campaigns coordinator. Much of the role involves helping prepare for Toronto Taste, the annual summer charity event devoted to raising money for Second Harvest. Specific duties related to that event involve putting together the variety of auctions that take place over the Toronto Taste weekend in June, as well as garnering the support of sponsors and the like. The organization is looking that has experience working with charities and has had success putting together events in the past. Application should be submitted by September 25. 
Do you know of a job opportunity with an innovative company or organization? Let us know!

New Toronto-made app wants to help Canadians decide who to vote for this federal election

Although there are some 30 days still left in the current federal election campaign, you'll have to forgive a lot of Canadians if they've become apathetic to the state of political discourse in this country.  

Even at the best of times, it can feel like there's a dearth of substance to televised debates. It's a shame, since the issues facing Canada have potentially never been more pressing.   

Of course, there's a lot of information that can be found online on each of the major parties and their leaders, helping voters cast a ballot intelligently, but so much of it is disorganized and all over the place. 

Thankfully, a group of Toronto web and app developers have set out to give a helping hand to country's voters. 

Pollenize, a new app available on the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, provides a comprehensive overview of where all the largest parties on stand on the major issues. With each issue, it's also possible to see where Pollenize sourced its information from, so that users of the app can do additional research on their own. Best of all, it's all wrapped in design that is easy on the eyes a pleasure to navigate through. 

If the app itself and the charming leader caricatures that adore it look familiar, it's because this isn't Pollenize's first time around the block. Co-founders Trevor Blades and Miguel Barbosa created the initial version of their website and app during the lead up to the city's municipal election last year. After watching one too many debates where there was a lack of any sort of meaningful discussion, the two decided their had to be a better way.  

"Pollenize is a nonpartisan, apolitical organization seeking to provide voters with the most accurate election information possible," says the organization's website. "We aim to make a positive impact on voter turnout and help spark political discussion in communities around the world."

As mentioned, the Pollenize app is available on Android and iOS smartphones. Alternatively, all the information that's available within the mobile app is also accessible on the organization's website. Check it out

Johnson and Johnson launches medical startup accelerator at MaRS

The MaRS Discovery District, the Government of Ontario and the University of Toronto are partnering with American medical multi-national Johnson & Johnson to launch the first JLABS incubator outside of the United States. 

Announced last week and set to open sometime in the spring of 2016, the 40,000 square foot space will host startups dedicated to developing pharmaceuticals, as well as medical devices and consumer and digital health technologies. 

Compared to more traditional startup accelerators which invest in early stage companies in return for equity, JLABS offers funding as well as mentoring services without asking for a stake in companies. 

“The arrival of JLABS will significantly expand the resources and networks available to the health and life sciences community at MaRS and in the region,” said Dr. Ilse Treurnicht, CEO of MaRS Discovery District. “The timing is perfect. Our research pipeline is strong and we now have a critical mass of high calibre young companies that are ready to take their transformative technologies and health solutions to global markets. They need access to talent, partners, customers and capital. Toronto’s time is now.”

Several local medical institutions, including the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), the Hospital for Sick Children and Mount Sinai will also be joining the space. 

Who's hiring in Toronto? Google, Medieval Times and more...

Some of the more interesting employment opportunities we've spotted this week include:

Medieval Times is holding auditions to find a new king, lord chancellor and princess for its long running jousting and dinner show. The Exhibition Place venue wants capable actors in fit physical condition, and who can successfully improvise a scene should the situation call for it. All actors also need to be able to affect a believable British accent. Likewise, experience with horseback riding is a definite asset, though not required; Medieval Times will train capable candidates. Applications are due September 13, with auditions being held shortly thereafter.

Google Canada is adding an additional ad solutions engineer to its Toronto office. Working with the gTech Ads team, the person who takes on this role will be responsible for assisting a small group of advertising clients with their technical needs, as well as advising them on best practices when it comes to the Google ad platform. Minimum qualifications include a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science or related technical field, and three years of programing experience. Candidates with experience writing Java, Python or PHP will be prefered.

The Writers Guild of Canada is hiring an administrative assistant. The position involves helping the WGC’s executive director and executive assistant as needed, as well as overseeing other administrative duties like scheduling meetings and maintaining clear and thorough records. The organization is looking for someone with three years of administrative experience and the usual collection assortment of excellent writing and oral skills. The deadline to apply is this Friday, September 4.

Lastly, the MasterCard Foundation is hiring a research, evaluation and learning coordinator. Reporting to the organization’s director and deputy director, the individual that takes on this role will be relied upon to complete a variety of administrative duties, including answering calls and emails, coordinating travel arrangements and schedule meetings. MasterCard is looking for someone with two years of administrative experience, a proactive, positive attitude and an excellent sense for the details. Resumes should be submitted by September 25.

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