Small businesses invited to tap local expertise to develop robotic and automation products

Spark Centre, UOIT and Durham College unveil exciting new program  to support business competitiveness

Engineering Open House

Spark Centre, in partnership with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and Durham College (DC), have launched a new program aimed at helping small and medium businesses develop products focused on robotics and automation.

With funding from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), this initiative will offer a variety of services to support potential projects, including assistance with:

  • development of a business/marketing plan
  • modification of control software
  • prototype design/development

The funding can also be used to support access to facilities on the shared DC-UOIT Oshawa campus such as the UOIT ACE Climatic Wind Tunnel and the DC Integrated Manufacturing Centre (IMC).

To qualify for the program, companies must be incorporated and have less than 15 employees. Applications will be assessed based on suitability for the program and each organization’s capacity to complete its project. The deadline for applications is Tuesday, September 6. All projects must be completed by Wednesday, March 15, 2017.

Quotes

“Spark Centre is excited to see an overdue gap being addressed, specifically small and medium businesses having access to low-cost rapid prototyping services and facilities here in Durham Region.”

Dennis Croft, President and CEO, Spark Innovation Centre

“The demand for automated technologies and systems is growing rapidly as the economies of developed countries become increasingly dependent on them. Through this partnership, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology is pleased to offer its research and entrepreneurship expertise to help local small and medium businesses meet this need by bringing innovative robotics and automation products to market faster.

Michael Owen, PhD, Vice-President Research, Innovation and International, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

“This program is a natural extension of Durham College’s leadership and innovation in robotics, automation, applied research and entrepreneurship. With the funding from NRC-IRAP and our partnership with UOIT and Spark Centre, the college will be able to further leverage the expertise of our faculty and students, as well as our state-of-the-art facilities such as the IMC, to address the critical need for technical and business services for small and medium-sized businesses in the automation and robotics space.”

Debbie McKee Demczyk, Dean, Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Durham College

Ignite Is Back!

We’re very pleased to announce that applications are now open for our fourth annual Ignite Competition.

Two start-up companies will be awarded $25,000 to use towards their business.  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 once again include the Student Entrepreneur category for a second year, giving away $5,000 to a post-secondary entrepreneur.

The 2015 Ignite winners, IFTech and Sound Options Tinnitus Treatments have gone on to do extraordinary things with the help that they received after winning Ignite.

“Ignite was a great experience for us throughout the competition. Not only did we develop great contacts and start mentoring relationships that have helped drive our sales,” says Michael Chrostowski, PhD, President and CEO of Sound Options Tinnitus Treatments. “Winning Ignite also allowed us to create the momentum towards our entry into the US market.”

“Ignite is more than just winning a contest, it gets companies ready to meet the demands of financing. All companies need money to run and Ignite helps with that,” says IFTech Co-Founder Micheal Stanfield. “Working with Spark Centre throughout the competition helped us with our confidence and they continue to help us handle the constant ups and downs of business.”

Applications for the Young and General Entrepreneur categories must be received by 5:00pm on September 9th. Student Entrepreneur applications will be extended until 5:00pm on September 16th.

Please visit ignitedurham.ca for more information on the application process, eligibility criteria, and important dates.

 

MobileXCo Partners with Toronto Parking Authority

Spark Centre client and Whitby-based, MobileXCo have partnered with the Toronto Parking Authority to introduce a new pilot project in select Liberty Village parking lots. The project allows users of the Green P Mobile Pay App to download discount coupons for area retailers, powered by MobileXCo.

The pilot project is being conducted at 2 designated Liberty Village lots, #181 1155 King Street West and #224 34 Hanna Avenue in partnership with mobile solution provider, MobileXCo, with the view to expand the program across Toronto in 2017.

“Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for retailers to connect with their customers, as well as to provide an enhanced shopping experience,” said Peter Pinfold co-founder at MobilexCo. “In partnership with Green P, we’re able to provide retailers with a powerful mobile solution, so they can drive sales, foster loyalty, and save money.”

Participating Retailers (Liberty Village):
Metro (Grocery Store)A029_C044_0101YT.0000613
Global Pet Foods (pet food)
Hero Certified Burger (Fast Food)
Shoeless Joe’s (Restaurant)
Panago Pizza (Fast Food)
The Roastery (coffee)
For the Love of Cake (Bakery)
Brazen Head Irish Pub (Restaurant)
Williams Landing (Restaurant)
Oats & Ivy (Restaurant)
Home Hardware (Hardware)
Athlete’s Kitchen (Health Food)
Suzanne Gardner Flowers
V.O.C. (Women’s Clothing)
Vibrant Lifestyle (Health)
Smooth Wax Bar (Spa)
Kitchen Stuff Plus (Retail)
Toronto FC (Sports)

The coupon redemption process is extremely easy for retailers to implement and for shoppers to use. There is no special hardware or software required at point-of-sale and no need to scan barcodes at checkout. All that is needed is a smartphone. For a video demonstration of how the program works, click here

About MobileXCo:
The Mobile Experience Company (MobileXCo) is a mobile solutions provider that specializes in mobile-first retail experiences. Tether™ – a mobile marketing platform that helps retailers build, manage & measure personalized marketing experiences www.mobilexco.com

Client Profile: Tool Belt Technologies

by Brandon Drenikow, Founder of Tool Belt Technologies 

Tool Belt Technologies is a software company that strives to help emerging game developers enhance their user’s experience. Tool Belt Tech is currently in the process of releasing its first analytics tool, Vixen, which helps developers optimize the playtesting process, saving developers precious time and money.

The analytics tool, Vixen, has been in development since June 2014, beginning as a research project at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), started under the supervision of assistant professor Dr. Pejman Mirza-Babaei and associate professor Dr. Andrew Hogue. During this time, the proof of concept and earliest prototype was researched and developed. Vixen development was continued through UOIT’s incubator program during the final year of Brandon’s undergraduate Game Development & Entrepreneurship program under the supervision of Morden Shapiro. This allowed the company to begin designing the initial concepts of the business model and further iterate on the designs of Vixen with the help from two former developers, Thomas Galati, and James Simpson.

Tool Belt Technologies founder Brandon Drenikow began to pursue his masters to develop Vixen with the intention to advance the field of computer science and the games industry. During his first year of grad school, Brandon teamed up with four experienced software developers, Chris Carmichael, Liam Svirk, Derek Chong, and Tucker Alban to continue iterating on Vixen. Since then, our team remains to be these five members as they join Spark Centre’s Youth Incubator Program for the summer of 2016.

With our strong skill set for innovative technology we joined Spark Centre seeking help with the business aspects of our company, as we understood our need for assistance with key business sections such as marketing, finance, and legal. Our members have taken away high value from Spark’s presentations such as Marketing that STICKs, Finding and Compensating Partners, Startup Fundraising, along with many others! We have taken advantage of the Spark Centre’s experience and services to further and refine the development of our business.

Our main goals for the remainder of the summer are to launch our product on the Unity Asset Store, a platform similar to the Apple App Store but for game developers, and to begin the building of a loyal customer base from our potential business clientele. This will provide Tool Belt Tech with the opportunity down the road, to provide playtesting services for our customers as well as provide a sustainable revenue stream for our business. To aid with marketing our new product, Tool Belt Tech has acquired initial startup capital to help cover some of the expenses, receiving $3,000 in assistance funding from the Firefly Grant.

For more information and visuals on the technical aspects of the product, or to register for our monthly newsletter; please visit our website. Our newsletter will provide information on the current status of the product and company.

Thanks for taking your time to read about Tool Belt Technologies product, Vixen, Unity’s first Games User Research tool!

Ignite 2016 Sponsorship Opportunities

In 2015, Ignite entered its third year and 78 Innovative startup companies were put through an even deeper and more rigorous selection process. The process involved three competition categories: Student, Young Entrepreneur and General Entrepreneur.

Four months later, IFTech and Sound Options emerged as the winners and each received $25,000 in cash and were inducted into Spark Centre’s Thrive Accelerator Program. Check out the Ignite 2015 journey HERE.

Ignite has now become Spark Centre’s most notable public event, bringing awareness to our start-up industry, local entrepreneurship and the importance of creating an innovative ecosystem.

Applications for Ignite 2016 are opening soon! If you are interested in sponsoring Ignite, please have a look at our value-packed sponsorship package. All inquires can be directed to info@sparkcentre.org

Click Here to view the Ignite 2016 Sponsorship Package!

Spark Centre 2016 Annual Report

 

Spark Centre is very pleased to present our 2016 Annual Report.

The report details Spark Centre’s mission and vision and also introduces our Board of Directors, Staff and Advisors. It also highlights some of the organization’s and client’s incredible successes in 2016!

Click Here to download a copy.

2015 Spark Centre Annual Report_Cover

 

For printed copies, please contact Amanda Reynolds, Communications Specialist areynolds@sparkcentre.org

Spark Centre Announces Creative Spark Marketing Service

Spark Innovation Centre is pleased to announce Creative Spark, a new service that focuses on the must haves for any business: Design, Marketing, Media and Communications.

Creative Spark is a multi-disciplined branding and marketing communications studio working with businesses to create, renovate and elevate their brand. The team at Creative Spark holds a wealth of experience working with a diverse list of brands and businesses.

A variety of different packages and add-ons are available through Creative Spark, including:

  • Marketing Strategy
  • Graphic Design
  • Brand Identity / Story
  • Media & Press Training
  • Social Media
    • Profile set-up
    • Content Creation
  • Media Relations
    • Story Pitching
    • Press Release & Media List Creation

For more information on the services Creative Spark offers and pricing, visit www.sparkcentre.org/creative-spark.

Ignite is Coming!

We are very excited to announce that applications for our fourth annual Ignite Startup Competition will be opening in August 2016.

Two start-up companies will be awarded $25,000 to use towards their business. 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.

Ignite will also include the Student Entrepreneur category, awarding $5,000 to a post-secondary entrepreneur along with automatic inclusion into Spark Centre’s Youth Incubator Program.

We are excited to announce the dates for Ignite 2016:

Pitch Schools Round One
• All Category Entrepreneurs: September 20

Pitch Competitions Round One
• Young Entrepreneurs: September 27
• General Entrepreneurs: September 28
• Student Entrepreneurs: September 29

Pitch School Round Two
• All Category Entrepreneurs: October 6

Central Pitch Competition
• All Category Entrepreneurs: October 13
  (student winner announcement)

Boardroom Presentations
• Young & General Entrepreneurs: November 15

Awards Ceremony
• Young & General Entrepreneurs: November 17

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

Please visit ignitedurham.ca for more information on the application process, eligibility criteria, and important dates.

Client Profile: Hexyoo Scientific

Hexyoo Scientific Inc. is a wellness product development and benefits validation testing company with expertise in formulating and pouring visco elastic polymers (gel). An important milestone for our health based technology company was the filing of our provisional patent, protecting our methods of manufacturing, gel compression wrap design, and our ability to embed sensor technology into our gel. Our gel dissipates pressure,  attenuates vibration, regulates temperature, accommodates body friction and shear, can withstand repeated use and is easily cleanable, which highlights a few of its many features.

We are currently at various stages of development for a handful of projects. Presently, our two flag ship products are:

⁃     The Opus gel Compression Wrap: conveniently combines Hot or Cold therapy with the clinical benefits of true compression. This visco elastic polymer’s unique features allow for faster and safer recovery. Sign up for an invite to our upcoming crowd funding launch on Indiegogo online today at www.opusgelwrap.com.

⁃     Opus gel Pressure Ulcer Pads: developing a proprietary gel based pressure ulcer pad for both treatment and prevention. This pad is compatible with current health care infrastructure and will be a low cost addition to every hospital, long term care, and community based bed for at risk populations. This semi solid gel can be disinfected with straight bleach, has a pliable skin-like texture, and can be embedded with an antimicrobial. Our provisional patent protects our ability to embed sensors, such as accelerometers, pressure mapping systems, and temperature monitors within the gel. These monitors will transmit real time data to hand held devices and a central monitoring station within the health institution. This data will reduce human error and improve patient care. It will also provide much needed evidence of proper management during litigation.

 

Client Profile: Wetraq

by Rachita Goyal ,the Public Relations & Communication Manager for WeTraq

WeTraq is the first credit card sized global tracking device that combines the power of Internet of Things (IoT) and GPS technology. With its unique set of features such as Global Coverage, geo-fencing, precise location & SOS alerts; Wetraq allows you to track your loved ones anytime & anywhere across the globe with NO monthly subscription fee. WeTraq will be proudly ‘Made in Canada’ to ensure better quality and create jobs.

Safety is everyone’s concern, with more than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder and over 5 million Americans & 750,000 Canadians living with dementia.

Unlike other tracking devices that only use Bluetooth or GPS, WeTraq has overcome the limitation of geography, size & limited battery life. The device connects wirelessly with your smartphone via the Wetraq Mobile App which allows remote monitoring of devices by providing seamless interaction using global GSM Network. It uses proprietary software that fetches the location based on billions of WiFi access points spread across the globe. The device uses a rechargeable battery and has an inbuilt sleep mode functionality to prolong battery life.

This device will play a vital role in the lives of families having kids or adults affected by disorders such as Autism and Dementia, helping them ease their anxiety about safety of their loved ones when they are not around. Organizations such as Autism Canada have already come in support of WeTraq device to help make the world a safer place says Ishaan Singla, CEO of WeTraq.

Wetraq will be launching their Kickstarter campaign soon to raise funds to get the device in the hands of who need it the most. You can subscribe for early bird discounts on our website (CLICK HERE) and be part of our initiative to make this world a safer place.