Urban Stalk Founder & CEO Brent Downey Joins Announcement on VentureLAB Expansion
On March 5, 2021, new funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) was announced to bring emerging tech companies in Southern Ontario a step closer to becoming competitors in the $7 trillion global semiconductor market. The FedDev Ontario non-repayable contribution of $4.73M will be injected to expand Canada’s first hardware and semiconductor-focused lab, ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative. The funding comes as manufacturers sound the alarm about a global shortage of chips, which are required to drive innovation in the global economy ranging from the next-generation of electric vehicles, robotics in precision agriculture, 5G communications and mobile devices.
ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative was born out of the need to meet increasing global demand for chips, sensors and related products. The current lack of global supply underscores the importance to invest in Canada’s domestic supply chain. Today’s announcement will help strengthen Canada’s technology sector and marks a significant milestone in creating a new generation of founders who build IP-rich products that are critical to the global electronics supply chain. For each new semiconductor job, almost five other tech jobs are created for the global semiconductor market.
“The global shortage of chips represents a major opportunity for Canada,” says Melissa Chee, President and CEO, ventureLAB. “We have watched countries receive investment from their governments to strengthen their domestic semiconductor sectors. A made-in-Canada semiconductor supply chain is required to catapult Canada to the forefront of global innovation to create supply chain resiliency and high-value tech and manufacturing capacity. Today’s follow-on investment from FedDev is an instrumental step towards strengthening our tech sector, laying the foundational groundwork we need to build a more resilient Canadian economy.”
Since launching the Hardware Catalyst Initiative in February 2020, the lab has doubled in size, with the latest investment enabling expansion to further eliminate capital-intensive barriers to entry for Canadian founders with the addition of advanced computing infrastructure to virtualize access to a broader set of Canadian companies. Founders in the program have access to technical resources, manufacturing capacity, investment expertise, and networks of top talent to accelerate product development and commercialize at scale.
“By virtualizing the HCI Lab, Canadian businesses across Canada will be able to fully access the program, encouraging widespread growth in the hardware industry,” said the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion and Member of Parliament for Markham–Thornhill. “Our government’s investment is good news for Canadian businesses scaling up in the hardware and semiconductor sector, good news for Ontario with the addition of 35 new skilled jobs, and goods news in our pursuit of a sustainable and digital economic recovery.”
“The HCI Lab expansion will allow Canadian entrepreneurs to stay globally competitive here in Canada by increasing the capabilities for companies to connect with global leaders virtually and to test new technologies,” said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. “Today’s announcement represents the kind of investment that will strengthen our manufacturers now by giving them the support they need to grow and stay resilient for the future—all while creating good, local jobs.”
With an initial investment of $5 million from the Government of Canada, the Hardware Catalyst has gained rapid momentum as Canada’s Hardware Hub with a growing global network of private sector industry partners, including AMD, TSMC, Arm, Silicon Catalyst, Synopsys and Keysight, who have contributed equipment, design tools, prototype capabilities, manufacturing capacity, technical expertise and advanced computing to enable a new generation of founders to commercialize their products and scale their companies in a way not previously possible in Canada.
The Second Cohort of Hardware Catalyst Initiative Companies
Following the successful first cohort of Hardware Catalyst Initiative companies, a second cohort — building foundational technologies to power breakthrough products — has been selected. In addition to mentorship from global tech leaders, the eight companies selected will use the specialized equipment and industry expertise to realize their ideas and bring their products to market in an accelerated fashion.
Braze Mobility– An affordable navigation solution for wheelchair users that automatically detects obstacles and provides intuitive audio, visual and vibration alerts to the wheelchair driver.
Enertics Inc.– Provides an early health monitoring, diagnostics and predictive maintenance solution of electrical assets.
Hyivy Health– Creates the first intelligent and holistic pelvic rehabilitation device for women experiencing symptoms from pelvic cancers and diseases.
Qoherent– Helps engineers harness the power of machine learning and quantum computing, in the pursuit of intelligent radio technologies.
Scope Photonics– Builds tunable lenses that bring high quality optical zoom to a compact form factor, for use in smartphone cameras, depth sensors, microscopes and more.
SmartComm Technologies Inc.- Specializes in Wireless Baseband hardware IP and firmware for IoT.
Urban Stalk Inc.- Reduces food insecurity for at risk and urban populations and the negative environmental impacts that originate from agricultural activity.
WeavAir– Proactive end-to-end solution for air distribution systems that prevents the spread of contamination and infection, while reducing operational and maintenance costs.
About The Hardware Catalyst Initiative
ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative is Canada’s first lab and incubator for founders building hardware and semiconductor-focused products. Funded in part by the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), this competitive program helps southern Ontario-based tech SMEs accelerate their time to market in a sector that normally incurs lengthy entry and scale times, enabling Canadian hardware and semiconductor companies to grow and scale locally, and compete globally. To learn more about the Hardware Catalyst Initiative, visit www.venturelab.ca/HCI.
ventureLAB is a leading technology hub located in Markham in York Region, Canada’s second-largest tech cluster. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, with a focus on hardware and enterprise software technologies. ventureLAB has enabled thousands of tech companies to scale, and our portfolio of companies have created close to 4,000 jobs that have raised over $120 million in investment capital to continue their growth and scale. www.venturelab.ca
About FedDev Ontario
For nearly 12 years, FedDev Ontario has actively worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation and growth in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving their productivity, growing their revenues, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region.