Spark Centre’s Thrive Accelerator Program Announces Cohort One


Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre today announced the first cohort of start-ups accepted into their new Thrive Accelerator Program. Six ambitious companies will join Thrive’s four month accelerator program which offers significant advisory and business support services to achieve a faster market entry. The six companies will also be co-located at The Loft – Spark Centre’s collaborative ecosystem in Durham Region.

“We’re very excited to be working with six incredible startups that are positioned to make a huge impact in 2015.” says Braden Kemp, Director of Client Services at Spark Centre. “Thrive provides a focused environment for bringing rapidly scalable start-ups to market quickly. These entrepreneurs already have the ideas and the passion to succeed, we support them with the resources, advice and operational support required to get there faster.”

Introducing Thrive Cohort One:

Blancride: Blancride is a mobile application that modernizes carpooling. Incorporating GPS and smartphone technology, Blancride matches passengers and drivers to share a ride instantly.

IFTech: Innovators in wearable technology, IFTech is leading the next generation of immersive gaming. Their first product is ARAIG, a high-tech, multi-sensory gaming suit.

National ProStaff: The leading social network for anglers, brands, tournaments, and outfitters. Fishing brands are able to manage, recruit, and highlight all brand ambassadors in one place while consumers are able to make smarter buying decisions and interact with ProStaff.

Seriously Fun Games: Aims to provide access to the incredible power of educational games. The company creates engaging and fun game-based learning experiences to enable educators to deliver their message with impact.

Tiko 3D: Creators of the most affordable, elegant, and easy to use 3D Printer. Tiko 3D is bringing Delta printing technology to the masses in a user-friendly, affordable desktop device.

Zambah: 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.

“Cohort One has already moved in to The Loft, and is working closely with Spark Centre Advisors, the Expert Network, and Corporate Partners to rapidly accelerate their path to market,” says Kemp. “We’re having too much fun helping these entrepreneurs build incredible technology right here in Durham.”

To learn more about the Thrive Accelerator Program and Cohort One, visit Tiko Is 2015′s Most Unusual 3D Printer—And It’s Cheap, Too

by Signe Brewster,

The desktop 3D printer space is getting crowded. In just a few years, we’ve gone from “Wow! A 3D printer!” to “How cheap is it?” and “How are you going to convince me to buy it?”

That’s why I was surprised to be, well, surprised by the Tiko, a Canadian 3D printer that will hit Kickstarter next week. The Tiko is a delta printer, which means its body is shaped like a triangle instead of a rectangle. It has a sleek, unibody design. And it will cost $179.

In case you haven’t been playing along at home, that’s peanuts in a market where lots of 3D printers will set you back $400 or more.

I saw the Tiko in action at the SXSW conference, where it was hard at work pumping out blue trinkets. CEO Matt Gajkowski said he designed the printer with mass production in mind, meaning every part can be made on standard equipment. That bodes well for crowdfunding backers, who often have to wait months for delayed 3D printer deliveries. The Tiko is slated to ship this fall.

(Click Here to read the full story)

Client Update: Kai Innovations Inc. named Startup of the Year

Durham Region based Kai Innovations Inc. has won the Air Miles’ Small Business Achievement Award for Start-up of the Year!

Established in 2013, KAI Innovations is a full service Electronic Medical Record (EMR) provider that provides smaller clinics an end to end solution to convert from paper to electronic charts. The service includes infrastructure design and delivery, including cabling of clinics, hardware sales, software sales, support and maintenance. The offering is unique to the market and is regarded as the goal standard of support in the industry.

The team at Kai Innovations is a perfect mix of technology experts and experienced medical industry workers which allows them to not only deliver a top quality product, but also to understand the medical reasons behind each request to maximize efficiency for the physician

Click Here to read more about Kai Innovations Inc being named the Start-up of the Year.

Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre Announces Partnership with Brock Youth Centre

Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre today announced it has entered into a strategic partnership with Brock Youth Centre. This partnership will be focus on encouraging youth entrepreneurship in Durham Region. Both organizations will work together on cooperative workshops and entrepreneur sessions geared towards high school and post-secondary students. Spark Centre will also leverage Brock Youth Centre’s presence in North Durham for appointments, consultations and client activities.

“This partnership brings together two organizations who are focused on entrepreneurship as a potential career path.” said Dennis Croft, President and CEO of Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre.

“The Brock Youth Centre is excited to formalize our partnership with Spark Centre and work together to enhance youth entrepreneurship opportunities across Durham Region. Through collaboration and partnerships in the sector, our organization is now stronger and more impactful than we have ever been in the last 14 years and we look forward to many more.” added Jordan Starr, Chair – Board of Directors at Brock Youth Centre

Spark Centre and Brock Youth Centre will collaboratively participate in programs, and their strategic design, that enhances youth entrepreneurship in Durham Region.

About Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre: Spark Centre is one of seventeen 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

About Brock Youth Centre: The Brock Youth Centre is a charitable organization that provides opportunities for youth in the community to aspire, grow and achieve their goals in life. They currently run the BOOST youth entrepreneurship program that takes youth under 30 to assist with their start-up businesses and connect them with other organizations and mentors in the community to turn their passion into employment. For more information on Brock Youth Centre, please visit


Durham Region Launches New Digital Technology Portal


Spark Commercialization & Innovation Centre is pleased to have partnered with The Regional Municipality of Durham, Planning and Economic Development Department, to launch the Durham Innovation and Technology Portal. This integrated online resource is designed to promote Durham Region’s digital technology sector, with a focus on attracting international investors.

“With the digital technology sector evolving at a rapid pace, it’s imperative for Durham Region to remain innovative and provide leading-edge tools for potential investors,” said Kathy Weiss, Director of Economic Development and Tourism. “The portal is a valuable resource that will support local technology companies and also act as an investment attraction tool—encouraging economic growth throughout the region.”

“The technology industry is alive and flourishing in Durham, and I am excited we now have a dedicated site to share our story with residents and business in Durham, as well as globally!” said Dennis Croft, President & CEO, Spark Commercialization & Innovation Centre.

Spark Centre will continue to keep the portal up-to-date with information about upcoming events, job postings, research and development at post-secondary institutions, local support networks, investment opportunities, and the latest news related to technology and innovation in Durham Region.

It will also be used as part of Durham Region’s overall Foreign Investment Attraction Plan, which aims to respond to potential foreign and domestic investors and generate new leads. In fact, the portal project was made possible by a joint-funding initiative from the Region of Durham and Invest Canada-Community Initiatives (ICCI), which provides financial support to communities for their foreign direct investment programs and resources. This funding enables Durham Region to promote its diverse employment base and attract, retain and expand direct investments from foreign markets.

To access the Durham Innovation and Technology Portal, visit

Client Update: National ProStaff

by Dan Miguel, CEO 

nps banner (“NPS”) is a social media website that connects anglers with passionate fishing brand experts. Brands are able to manage, recruit, and highlight all of their brand ambassadors in one place, while consumers gain a great resource to learn about fishing spots, techniques, what to use, and make smarter buying decisions. Over the past 3 years NPS has grown to become the premier fishing website and App for anglers all across Canada and the US.

Since winning the Ignite competition late last year, we’ve been moving full steam ahead with our US expansion plan. The impact of that win has been very significant as our clients have never been so happy to work with us and the prize money we’ve spent is already generating a return on investment. To date we’ve invested half the prize money in US tradeshows, sponsoring Brent Ehrler the best bass fisherman in North America, and social media Ad campaigns.

Spark Centre recently gave us the grand tour of The Loft, where our company will be relocating with the Spark team. It’s going to be awesome to work in such a cool work environment and being around so many other like-minded entrepreneurs like Zambah, a group of really cool guys I’ve gotten to know over the past few months working on an amazing platform for the Indie Music scene.

It’s exciting times for NPS!

To learn more or to keep up to date on our progress check out or follow us on;

Facebook –
Twitter – @TeamNPS
Instagram – NationalProStaff

N100 Offers Startups the Chance to Compete for $100,000

N100 Offers Startups the Chance to Compete for $100,000 in Early-Stage Investment

The annual $100,000 N100 Startup Competition is entering its third year once again challenging entrepreneurs to compete for real equity.

“What distinguishes our startup competition from others is that the $100,000 is an investment, not a prize,” said Wendy Curtis, Executive Director of Northumberland CFDC, the organization running N100. “We gear the competition towards the pre-Angel stage when entrepreneurs are working to finalize a prototype or some other major milestone and are on the cusp of attracting significant investor interest.”

The winner of the inaugural year of N100 was Unified Computer Intelligence Corporation (UCIC) makers of the Ubi (the ubiquitous computer) and the winner of N100 2014 was Linkitz with their wearable electronic toy that teaches children how to code. UCIC and Linkitz each secured additional investment (led by Maple Leaf Angels and SOSVentures respectively) and both appeared at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada this year.

“N100 was invaluable in helping us hone our business plan, our pitch, and ultimately get our product to market faster,” said Leor Grebler, CEO of UCIC.

“We are delighted to have won N100 2014,” added Lyssa Neel, CEO of Linkitz. “The advice and support we have received from the Northumberland CFDC and our advisor there, John Hayden, has been nothing short of amazing.”

Competitive down-selection for N100 unfolds though three rounds from March to July, 2015: The Pitch, Business Planning and Negotiation. Along the way, finalists get access to free entrepreneurial training and support including N100 Pitch School and board room simulations run by Spark Centre, Northumberland’s Regional Innovation Centre. N100 is also an attraction strategy designed to bring next generation entrepreneurial impact to Northumberland—located just over an hour East of Toronto.

The N100 application process is now automated on PitchBurner and a corporate sponsorship from MathWorks will provide N100 finalists with the benefit of a free one-year software license for MatLab and Simulink with full technical support.

The deadline for applications is March 8, 2015. N100 Pitch Night will be held at the Capitol Theatre on May 5, 2015 and the winner will be announced in July.

For more information and to apply, visit N100 online at

About N100: N100 is an annual startup competition held in Northumberland (one hour East of Toronto). From March to July, startups compete over three successive rounds for a $100,000 convertible note. For more go to

About Northumberland CFDC: Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation invests in entrepreneurship and innovation as a pathway to prosperity, job creation and economic development in Northumberland, Ontario, Canada. The organization receives core operational funding from FedDev Ontario through the Community Futures Program. For more information, please visit Northumberland CFDC online at

About Spark Centre: Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre is one of seventeen 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

John Hayden, Manager – N100
Northumberland CFDC
905-372-8315 x224

2014 Ignite Journey Video



Spark Innovation Centre is very pleased to share the 2014 Ignite journey video.

Chris Oliver from CCO Productions has perfectly captured the competition as well as the remarkable talent in Durham Region. The Ignite Competition saw an incredible amount of engagement in the local entrepreneur community with over 70 applicants in the technology and innovation sector.

This video showcases how dedicated Spark Innovation Centre and our partners are to supporting the technology and innovative startup community in Durham Region.

Spark Innovation Centre Launches Thrive Accelerator Program

Thrive Logo

Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre today has announced their new Thrive Program, which offers a hybrid of incubation and acceleration services for startups. Thrive is a four month accelerator program with the option of continuing for up to 24 consecutive months. Companies accepted into Thrive will be offered co-location at The Loft – Spark Centre’s collaborative ecosystem in Durham Region. Thrive will also offer significant advisory and business support services to achieve a faster market entry.

Braden Kemp, Spark Centre’s Manager of Business Acceleration Services, is leading the Thrive Program. “Thrive is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to access critical support and resources that are rarely found outside well-known startup ecosystems like Toronto, Waterloo, Silicon Valley and New York,” says Kemp. “It will allow Spark and our partners to focus significant efforts on up to ten rapidly scalable businesses, bringing incredible technologies to market right here in Durham Region.”

In addition to a $1000 grant for initial business set-up, the companies in Thrive will be offered free support from Spark Centre including:
- Immediate immersion in an intensive program focused on rapid market entry
- Advisory Services in the areas of Leadership, Marketing, Sales, Legal and Finance
- Personnel support provided for Bookkeeping, Administration, HR, Public Relations, Creative Design and Government Grants
- Free office space
- Discounted professional services from the Spark Expert Network

Ultimately, Thrive will focus on increasing revenues and private investment in startups locally, as well as driving innovative job creation in Durham Region.

Those interested in learning more, or joining the program can apply online at:


Media Contact:
Amanda Reynolds
Public Relations and Media Manager
905-432-3999 x 122

Blancride hits over 500 users

Spark Centre client and one of Ignite Durham’s Final Five, Blancride, has hit over 500 users of their innovative mobile app designed to evolve carpooling into the modern age. Using GPS and smartphone technology, BlancRide matches passengers and drivers based on similar routes. Passengers save time, drivers save money and everyone saves the environment. 

Blancride’s first beta was launched in November targeting students, staff and faculty at University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and Durham College. The company was founded by Dr. Hamid Akbari, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Business and Information Technology (FBIT) at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). UOIT  featured Blancride in a recent news story about how quickly the company has evolved.


UOIT Researcher’s Innovative Carpooling App Creating a Smooth Ride for Commuters

Fuel and insurance costs, parking fees, vehicle upkeep, traffic congestion, weather conditions and sheer time spent on the road. No matter how you slice it, commuting by car in the GTA tests every driver’s patience. And it certainly takes a toll on the pocketbook.

One way motorists can get around the financial roadblock of commuting is to share costs by setting up a carpool. But even getting a carpool off the ground can be a trying task: how do you find people who are going where you are? How do you know where to meet someone? What if schedules change?

“We examined all of these questions and looked for a way to create an app-based tech solution to tackle the challenges that prevent carpooling,” said Dr. Hamid Akbari, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Business and Information Technology (FBIT) at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). “Our answer is Blancride: an innovative carpooling platform that matches passengers with drivers who share the same travel needs.”

Blancride works through smartphones as a customized message-board. It automatically balances the costs of each trip between each passenger and driver, simplifying the financial transaction and lowering the cost of each individual’s trip. Blancride takes a small fee for performing the service.

 (Click here to read the full story…)