Spark Centre Announces Global Partnership with Beijing Future Science Park

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Spark Centre Announces Global Partnership with Beijing Future Science Park

 

Oshawa, ON (September 8, 2017) – In celebration of the fifth year anniversary of the Ignite Competition, Spark Innovation Centre is extending their reach to include much sought after global markets with a newly announced partnership with Beijing Future Science Park.

 

Spark Centre travelled to China with the Region of Durham Economic Development delegation in May 2017 and signed a reciprocal agreement with Beijing Future Science Park at that time. The $25,000 Ignite Scale-Up category award will now be exclusively funded by Beijing Future Science Park and will include a one-week trip to Beijing for exploratory discussions, in addition to $5,000 of IP legal support from Bereskin & Parr for the winner.

 

“Sponsorship by Beijing Future Science Park of the Scale-Up category of our Ignite Competition shows the immediate benefit of these international collaborations,” said Spark Centre President and CEO, Sherry Colbourne.  “Long term, we expect such collaborations to lead to exponential growth for Spark Centre clients and energize economic impact for Durham Region.”

 

“Beijing Future Science Park are very pleased to be the title sponsor for Spark Centre’s 2017 Ignite Competition in the Scale Up Category. This provides a direct opportunity for the Canadian business and technology community to know about Beijing Future Science Park, become connected with Changping District in Beijing, and, in return, further advance Canada and China exchanges and collaborations in science and technology,” said Zhang Yanyou, Mayor of Changping District People’s Government.“We invite Canadian startups to visit us in Beijing’s Changping District, through our soft-landing program at Beijing Future Science Park where startups can introduce their business in China and we can work together to build a bright future for the world.”

 

Ignite is a pitch competition organized by Spark Centre and supported by local municipalities, academia and private sector businesses across Durham Region. Ignite begins with a pitch school open to all technology, innovative or inventive applicants and progresses to an extraordinary finale celebrating winners who receive up to $25,000 across multiple categories.

 

Applications for all Ignite categories opened on August 21st and will close on September 29th.  Those interested in applying can do so at www.ignitedurham.ca.

 

About Beijing Future Science Park: Beijing Future Science Park (BFSP) launched in 2009 and is located in the Changping District of Beijing.  After eight years of construction, it is rapidly becoming a gathering place for innovation and entrepreneurship. Globally bi-directional incubation to science and technology projects, joint laboratories, introduction to the Chinese market for International businesses, and collaborations in funding and investment are just a few of its focus areas.

 

About Spark Centre: Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre is one of eighteen not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) that form part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). The centre works to improve competitiveness and visibility of Durham Region and Northumberland County as a world-class innovation cluster. For more information on Spark Centre, please visit www.sparkcentre.org.

 

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For more information:                                                            

Amanda Reynolds

Director of Marketing, Spark Innovation Centre

areynolds@sparkcentre.org

 

Tao (Thomas) Qu

SPOC – Beijing Changping District and Durham Region Friendship Relation & BFSP SPOC for Spark Innovation Centre

thomasqu.ca@gmail.com

 

Spark Centre Ignites Canadian Innovation Partnership with Ontario Power Generation

Spark Innovation Centre and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) are partnering to ignite Canadian innovation with their annual Ignite Start-up Pitch Competition.

“We couldn’t be more encouraged by OPG’s decision to partner with Spark Centre for this year’s Ignite competition,” said Spark Centre President & CEO, Sherry Colbourne. “Durham Region has incredible bench strength in energy technologies and joining forces with one of Durham Region’s legacy energy companies is a pivotal event for this entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

“Innovation is a key pillar of Ontario Power Generation,” said Jason Van Wart OPG’s Vice President Nuclear Inspections and Maintenance. “We are proud to partner with Spark and the Ignite competition to spur innovation across Ontario.”

Ignite is now entering its fifth year and is a pitch competition organized by Spark Centre and supported by several municipalities and businesses across Durham Region.  OPG is looking to collaborate with innovators, entrepreneurs, and businesses to develop next-generation technology in the inspection industry. The winner of this category will collaborate with OPG and receive $25,000 of seed funding to further develop their idea.

The OPG category is looking for innovative ideas in the following areas:

  • Automation and Robotics
  • NDE (Non-Destructive Examination)
  • Drones (UAVs – Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)
  • Process Management
  • Software Solutions
  • Underwater Inspections (Diving Operations)
  • Laser Scanning/Mapping
  • Data Visualization

Applications for all Ignite categories open August 21st and close September 29th.  Those interested in applying can do so at www.ignitedurham.ca.

About OPG: OPG Generates safe, clean, reliable, low-cost power for Ontario. More than 99 per cent of this power is free of smog and greenhouse gas emissions. OPG’s power is priced 40 per cent lower than other generators, which helps moderate customer bills. For more information please visit www.opg.com.

About Spark Centre: Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre is one of eighteen not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) that form part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). The centre works to improve competitiveness and visibility of Durham Region and Northumberland County as a world-class innovation cluster. For more information on Spark Centre, please visit www.sparkcentre.org.

 

For more information:                                                                     
Amanda Reynolds
Director of Marketing, Spark Innovation Centre
areynolds@sparkcentre.org

Media Relations
Ontario Power Generation
416-592-4008 or 1-877-592-4008
Follow us @opg

Board of Directors Announces Resignation of President & CEO

Spark Innovation Centre’s Board of Directors announces Dennis Croft’s resignation as President & CEO of the organization effective September 16, 2016.

Since joining Spark Centre in 2011, Dennis has been a great champion for innovation and entrepreneurship in Durham Region and Northumberland County. Dennis has been involved in many significant accomplishments for the organization including the establishment of The Loft, Durham Region’s first start-up incubation space for entrepreneurs.

“The Board of Directors is very thankful to Dennis for getting the Spark Centre to that next stage of growth. He brought a true entrepreneurial spirit, which was critical in helping Spark get there,” says Kathy Weiss, Chair of Spark Innovation Centre’s Board of Directors. “We wish him well on his next endeavour.”  

Beginning immediately, the board will be conducting a search for a replacement while Spark Innovation Centre will continue to run as is during this time. To access the job posting, please click here. Applications will be accepted until Monday September 26th and should be forwarded to hr@sparkcentre.org.

About Spark Centre: Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre is one of eighteen not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) that form part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). The centre works to improve competitiveness and visibility of Durham Region and Northumberland County as a world-class innovation cluster. For more information on Spark Centre, please visit www.sparkcentre.org

 

Contact:
Amanda Reynolds
Communications Specialist, Spark Innovation Centre
areynolds@sparkcentre.org
905-432-3999 x 122

Client Update: IFTech Announce the Release of SDK Closed Beta for ARAIG

Brodie and Michael

IFTech Announce the Release of Software Development Kit Closed Beta Version for ARAIG
Companies can now integrate the ARAIG gaming suit technology into their software

Oshawa ON (August 19, 2015) – IFTech Inventing Future Technology Inc. are pleased to announce the Software Development Kit (SDK) for ARAIG, a high-tech, multi-sensory gaming suit is now in closed beta.

The ARAIG gaming suit provides a unique immersive experience through multi-sensory feedback. Whether it is for gaming, training, virtual reality, augmented awareness or another market entirely, ARAIG can deliver the most cutting edge technology to its users.

The ARAIG SDK is used to integrate the ARAIG gaming suit into software and applications to properly activate the suit’s various sensors. The software development kit is now available to a variety of companies across multiple marketspaces. A major milestone from the Alpha version to the Close Beta version of the ARAIG SDK is the Visualization Tool. Now it is easy to develop, debug and demonstrate the functionality of the ARAIG suit while simultaneously running your software and applications.

ARAIG Software Development Kit provides:

  • Ability to evaluate functionality before Purchasing a DevKit
  • Ability to learn how to integrate the ARAIG SDK into software and applications
  • A robust Visualization Tool to support the development and demonstration of ARAIG integration and functionality
  • Access to developer support
  • Ability to provide feedback to help IFTech better support the needs of developers

Access to and use of the ARAIG SDK is free but you need to sign a confidential developer license agreement to get your exclusive access.

For companies who are interested in the ARAIG Software Development Kit, or to be placed on the reservation list for the ARAIG Development Kit, please email sales@iftech-technologies.com. To receive the license agreement please provide the following information:

  • Company Name
  • Company Address
  • Contact Information (Name, Email, Phone Number)

As a future business partner with IFTech, you will be on the leading edge of your marketplace.

About IFTech: Created in 2008 by father and son Michael and Brodie Stanfield, IFTech Inventing Future Technology Inc. is a high tech innovation company creating solutions to improve and bring about change across as many industries as possible. Their first product, ARAIG As Real As It Gets is a fully immersive, multi-sensory gaming suit.

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Media Contact:

Amanda Reynolds
Public Relations & Media Manager 
905-432-3999 x 122
areynolds@sparkcentre.org

Spark Centre’s Youth Accelerator Program Winners Announced

Spark Innovation Centre is pleased to announce the summer winners of its first every Youth Accelerator Program. The organization is also pleased to announce that applications are now open for its Fall Youth Accelerator Program.

With the first cohort in the Summer Youth Accelerator Program coming to a close, participating companies were invited to take part in the Finale Pitch Presentation on August 11th in Oshawa, Ontario. The finale had 11 post-secondary student companies giving a 3 minute investment pitch on the businesses they have been building over the summer.

The Youth Accelerator Program saw 20 student companies spend four months over the summer receiving hands on advisory services, free office space at The Loft in Oshawa and seed financing from both the local university and college. Of the 20 companies, 11 qualified for the Finale Pitch Presentation.

The overall finale winner was Henlen Watches, who were selected by a panel of judges as our $2,500 Youth Accelerator Program Winner. Henlen Watches created an interchangeable smartwatch that allows for a smart component to be swapable throughout various designs and styles of watches.

The 20 participating student companies, more than 35 students, also participated in a cumulative points competition throughout the four months and Spark Centre announced Ideal Compass and Henlen Watches as the two $1,000 winners.

“We’ve learned so much in Spark Centre’s Youth Accelerator Program,” said Kyle George, CEO of Henlen Watches. “We are thrilled to have won the pitch competition, and are looking forward to working with Spark Centre more in the future to advance our business”             

“Spark Centre’s first Youth Accelerator has been an incredible experience for both the students, the advisory team, and our local partners,” said Braden Kemp, Director of Client Services at Spark Centre. “These young entrepreneurs came in with ideas, and many are exiting the program with revenue generating ventures, angel investment, and a deep understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneur. We’re excited to announce the winners of the final pitch competition, Henlen Watches, and look forward to helping them enter the market this fall.”

                                               

Applications for the Fall Youth Accelerator Program will be open next week at www.sparkcentre.org.

Applications for Ignite 2015 are Now Open!

Spark Innovation Centre has announced applications are now open to its third annual Ignite Competition. The organization made the announcement at an Innovation Celebration held in partnership with 360 Incentives and SAP Canada on August 13th in Whitby, Ontario.

Two start-up companies will be awarded $25,000 to use towards their business plans.  Along with the monetary prize, the two winners will be given free office space in The Loft and will also join Spark Centre’s Thrive Accelerator Program which offers significant advisory and business support services to achieve a faster market entry.

Spark Centre continues its strategic focus on youth entrepreneurship and accordingly, Ignite will continue to include the Student Entrepreneur category for a second year, giving away $5,000 to a post-secondary entrepreneur along with automatic inclusion into Spark Centre’s Winter Youth Accelerator Program.

Start-up businesses located anywhere within Canada are eligible to apply, but winners must establish their business within Durham Region.

One of the 2014 Ignite winners, Tiko 3D, has since gone on to close one of the all-time most successful Kickstarter campaign, raising $3.5 million CDN. Tiko 3D is now co-located with Spark Centre at The Loft and continues to work with the organization as part of the Thrive Accelerator Program.

“Spark Centre is an awesome support network that takes tech savvy entrepreneurs and gives them a foundation upon which they can grow their company,” says Matt Gajkowski, Founder & CEO of Tiko 3D and 2014 Winner of Ignite. “Winning Ignite and working with Spark Centre has helped us go from prototype to product to a viable business.”

Ignite has become without a doubt the biggest contributor to our clients’ success,” said Dennis Croft, President & CEO of Spark Centre. “The competition is designed as a journey with a series of public pitch competitions, and then concluding with a 30 minute public boardroom pitch.  While the winners receive Ignite specific winnings, the bigger success has been the number of angels and funding interests which have resulted.”

Applications for the Young and General Entrepreneur categories must be received by 5:00pm on September 11th. Student Entrepreneur applications will be extended until 5:00pm on September 18th. Please visit ignitedurham.ca for more information on the application process, eligibility criteria, and important dates.

Check out what past Ignite winners have been up to since the competition:

Spark Centre Announces New Centre at Durham College

Spark Innovation Centre today announced plans to open a new student entrepreneurship contact centre at Durham College’s Oshawa campus.

This new centre will be strategic in a number of ways:

  • A focal point location where Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT)interconnect on their joint north Oshawa campus
  • Provides Spark Centre with on-campus day-to-day access to more than 20,000 full-time college and university students
  • Provides additional support opportunities for Spark Centre with the FastStart consortium

More than 70% of Spark Centre’s clients annually emerge from the post-secondary student population at Durham College and UOIT. This on-campus centre, almost exactly where the college and university intersect, will provide Spark Centre with additional opportunity to reach students daily in order to provide advisory services and promote the value of entrepreneurship as a career.

“Over the past number of years we have continued to invest in new resources and tools beyond the classroom to foster greater entrepreneurship in our students,” said Don Lovisa, President, Durham College. “When you combine this with the excellent leadership, resources and mentorship available through the Spark Centre, our students have more opportunities than ever before to flex their entrepreneurial side, launch business ideas and ultimately find success. We are very pleased to be able to open this new space and expand our partnership with Spark Centre.”

“The campus in North Oshawa is very unique in Canada, given it has both college and university students converging, who are more often looking to start their own business,” said Dennis Croft, President & CEO, Spark Centre. “Spark Centre is so excited that Durham College has been able to provide space for us to create great proximity to such innovative talent.”

“The City of Oshawa’s partnership with Spark Centre has continued to bring growing prosperity to our youth entrepreneurship population and I am ecstatic that Durham College is providing Spark Centre an on campus student contact centre,” said City of Oshawa Mayor, John Henry. “This will continue to show Spark Centre’s commitment to supporting post-secondary students, and that entrepreneurship is a key part of our City’s economic foundation.”

Spark Centre Announces New Corporate Partnerships

Spark Innovation Centre is pleased to announce it has entered into three strategic industry partnerships, under its recently announced corporate partnership program.

The organization is thrilled that BDO Canada, the fifth largest accountancy network in the world and SoftLayer, an IBM Company that provides cloud infrastructure have both become Innovation Champion partners.  Both organizations show strong national corporate responsibility to the start-up and early start venture industry.

Spark Centre is also excited that 360incentives as they become a Regional Champion partner.  While 360 Incentives and Spark Centre have worked closely together for 3 years, the partnership continues to grow and strengthen in many facets.

Solidifying enterprise level industry partnerships is a critical strategic element for Spark Centre’s ongoing success. These industry partners understand the importance of aligning with regional innovation centres and start-up ecosystems. This is a key long-term economic driver for Spark Centre, our municipalities, our province and our nation.

“BDO is extremely excited to be partnering with Spark Centre,” said Brion Hendry, Partner at BDO Canada. “The contribution that Spark Centre and its team have made to the growth of the start-up ecosystem within Durham Region and surrounding areas has been instrumental. We are proud to be part of the team and look forward to the continued growth together.”

“SoftLayer continues to strengthen its roots within the start-up community. With our commitment to Canadian cloud computing, including investments in Toronto and Montreal data centers, SoftLayer is investing in technology in Canada to continue to plant the seeds for future technology growth,” said Qasim Virjee, Community Manager at SoftLayer Catalyst Canada. “The SoftLayer Catalyst start-up program is an integral part of more than 100 major start-up communities worldwide and is proud to see Durham Region as part of the team.”

“Spark Centre is humbled by the quality of industry partners coming on board,” said Dennis Croft, President & CEO of Spark Centre. “With these partners you can feel their passion, sincerity and genuine desire to help our clients compete and thrive in this innovation economy.”

Two Spark Centre Clients Receive Seed Funding from City Flow

Two Spark Innovation Centre clients from the Thrive Accelerator Program have secured significant angel funding from City Flow Project, a newly formed seed investment fund.

City Flow Project LP, has invested $300,000 in National ProStaff and $55,000 in Zambah. This marks the two largest investments made in Spark Centre clients during the 5 years of existence.  It is also just the beginning as more equity investments are quickly coming from City Flow.

National ProStaff (“NPS”) is a social commerce platform which connects consumers with brand experts. NPS has grown to become the premier fishing website and app for anglers all across Canada. Brands are able to manage, recruit, and highlight all of their brand ambassadors in one place while consumers gain a great resource to make smarter buying decisions.

Zambah is a web and mobile platform dedicated to exposing and promoting independent musicians to wide variety of new fans. Independent artists can share and sell their music directly to listeners through a visually engaging, dynamic platform.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Jason Atkins and the entire group behind the City Flow Project,” said Dan Miguel, CEO of National ProStaff. “The investors behind City Flow are some of the most successful people in Canada, and their expertise and guidance will help us get to where we want National ProStaff to go. Their financial investment in us will help us grow our team and do the things we need to do to execute on our vision.”

Angel investment is now alive and well in Durham Region,” said Dennis Croft, President & CEO of Spark Centre. “City Flow has answered a significant gap in the start-up ecosystem by providing a true angel investment approach. They understand the high risk and the significant opportunity, and they appreciate our clients’ wellbeing. We are so excited to see them engaged.”

“City Flow’s design is to provide rapid, practical and fair access to capital and mentorship for innovative start-up companies, primarily at the seed stage,” said Jason Atkins of City Flow. “We have already made investments in two high potential local start-ups, and are in discussions with several more. I remember how hard it was to raise capital and City Flow will serve a significant gap in the seed capital ecosystem of Durham Region.”

About Spark Centre: Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre is one of eighteen not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) that form part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). The centre works to improve competitiveness and visibility of Durham Region and Northumberland County as a world-class innovation cluster. For more information on Spark Centre, please visit www.sparkcentre.org

About City Flow Project: City Flow Project, LP is a newly formed seed fund back by investors from across Canada, who represent Canadian success stories and represents some of the largest technology companies in Canada.  The philosophies of City Flow focus on making the seed investment an experiential learning opportunity for start-ups, while ensuring terms are fair, transparent and straight forward. City Flow is located out of Whitby, Ontario and will look to Durham Region based innovative start-ups for its investments. City Flow has formed a close relationship with Spark Innovation Centre, which works with over 200 start-ups annually. www.cityflowproject.com

Media Contact:
Brenda Brown
Director, Portfolio and LP Community, City Flow Project
brenda@cityflowproject.com
905-767-7097

Spark Innovation Centre Announces the Launch of Innovative Youth Incubator

Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre is pleased to announce the launch of a new youth incubator. The incubator launched on May 4, 2015, with the first cohort running from May to September 2015 and it celebrates 25 youth aged 18 – 29, contributing to 20 start-up companies.

The first cohort is done in partnership with Durham College’s Summer Accelerator and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s Brilliant Summer Incubator.  Both programs are facilitated and led by Spark Innovation Centre who offer the companies in-depth advisory services, start up support, free office space, and a breadth of specialty workshops and events.

The incubator provides a state-of-the-art environment with seminars, workshops, one on one mentoring, job shadowing, peer group best practices, partner programs, coaching, and support for youth grants and loans.  Young entrepreneurs also have opportunities for exposure to private angel networks.

The 20 student companies were selected to participate in the program after presenting a compelling business venture pitch, identifying the potential for large market sustainability. The goal of the program is to help these entrepreneurs validate their business ideas and take those ideas to market quickly. The program also aims to provide practical exposure to entrepreneurship as a career path.

“The demand for new business incubation in the Durham Region is growing rapidly. At the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) our student entrepreneurs are excited about the opportunity to develop their business and innovation skills and knowledge in partnership with Spark Centre and UOIT’s Brilliant Incubator program,” said Michael Owen, Vice-President, Research, Innovation & International at UOIT.  “Our student entrepreneurs have amazing business ideas and technological insights, and represent the future for the Region of Durham.”

“We were thrilled to launch the DC Summer Accelerator, the latest addition to our FastStart programming,” said Debbie McKee Demcyzk, Director, Office of Research Services and Innovation at Durham College. “Teaming up with Spark Centre to provide expert advising and mentorship services, we will provide participants with a unique opportunity to kick-start their businesses. We’re confident this will be a successful and in-demand program supporting young visionaries in the community.”

“Incubation is proven method to accelerate commercialization, and the demand for youth has never been higher,” says Dennis Croft, President & CEO of Spark Centre.  “We believe this will be a significant economic driver for our region and offers a truly unique environment for youth entrepreneurs. UOIT and Durham College are amazing partners, and their student talent is best in class.”

Spark Innovation Centre plans on holding three four month cohorts a year, and will open applications up again in late August for Cohort Two.