Introducing the Ignite Top 27 Finalists!

The first round of Ignite pitches are complete and we have our Top 27!

Ignite saw 67 incredible innovation, technology or invention based businesses apply. This week, Ignite held three separate competitions for the three categories; Student Entrepreneur, Young Entrepreneur and General Entrepreneur. During the competitions, each participant had only 60 seconds to convince the judges that their startup was viable and investment worthy. Being able to pitch in one minute is not easy, but it shows the need to communicate clearly, quickly, and to engage your audience when speaking about your start-up business.

Spark Centre would like to congratulate the 27 companies selected to move on to the Round 2 Pitch Competition on October 13th at the Abilities Centre in Whitby.

Young Entrepreneur Category*
Top27 (1)Ball In The 6
Callerlytics
CandiiShop
Dash MD
Fiix
KoffeeDate
MIR
Tabnex
Tap Report
Vicis Labs
Welbi
WeTraq

General Entrepreneur Category
Cliply Corp
FI Automation
Hexyoo
Mentally Charged
QuickStaff
Studio 1 Labs
Ten Count
Test Run Online
Tutor Hub
VSS

Student Entrepreneur Category
Derman.ca
InFocusFilms
MiCharity
TruckOff
Ultima Apparel

If you’d like to join us for the Round 2: Pitch Competition on October 13th at Abilities Centre, please REGISTER HERE. Tickets are limited, so reserve your place quickly! The Student Entrepreneur winner will be announced and awarded $5,000! The Top 4 (two Young Entrepreneur and two General Entrepreneur) finalists will also be announced to move on to the Boardroom Competition for their chance to win $25,000.

 

*The Young Entreprenueur Top 10 is a Top 12 due to a tie.

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

Durham College Receives $13 Million for new CFCE

Durham College (DC) announced today that it has received $13 million in funding from the federal government through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) toward the construction of the new Centre for Collaborative Education (CFCE) at the college’s Oshawa campus. The announcement was made by Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Liberal MP for Whitby, on behalf of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada at an event held at the college this morning.

The $13 million commitment, combined with the $22 million in funding received from the provincial government toward the building in April 2016, brings the total amount being invested in the CFCE to $35 million, the largest single-project investment by government in the college’s history.

With a total build cost of $40 million, the CFCE will replace the college’s aging Simcoe building, which was originally built as a temporary structure and opened in 1969. The new multi-level, 75,000-square-foot-facility, a legacy project tied to DC’s 50th anniversary in 2017, will serve as an educational access point for students while bringing together local, Indigenous and global community groups and members of key business sectors. The CFCE will be located to the east of the current building, where it will connect directly to the Student Services building, and is being designed to reflect and address the needs of both students and the community, including the desire for more collaborative learning and social spaces.

“On behalf of everyone at Durham College, I extend my sincere thanks to the federal government for this significant investment in our unique vision and commitment to creating a facility that will expand local programming, further connect Indigenous communities to post-secondary education and drive entrepreneurship and internationalization via Global, Open and Collaborative spaces that connect the college to more than 50 academic institutions around the world,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “Providing us with the opportunity to expand into new programs areas that offer experiential learning opportunities designed to match the labour needs of industry, the CFCE is a legacy building for the next 50 years that truly reflects Durham College’s dedication to meeting the demands of students, employers and Ontario’s changing economy.”

Designed to reflect DC’s commitment to working with local business and community partners to create a new facility where students, employees and the broader community can work together in ways that transcend the traditional concepts of education, the CFCE will house the following:

  • The School-College-Work Initiative and the affiliated Centre for Success program, a partnership between DC and the Durham District, Kawartha Pine Ridge District, Durham Catholic District, Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District, and Trillium Lakelands District school boards that assists in-risk students by helping them find their way to college.
  • The Aboriginal and Student Diversity Centres.
  • Entrepreneurial, Innovation and Creative spaces including the Spark Centre, which will expand applied research opportunities for students, faculty and small-and medium-sized businesses.
  • Global, Open and Collaborative spaces that will enable faculty, students and the broader community to use technology in creative ways to gain unprecedented access to students, educators, thought leaders, subject matter experts and other visionaries from more than 40 countries around the world.
  • Health science facilities including state-of-the art classrooms and labs; a spa focused on massage therapy, cosmetology and aesthetics; and programming centred around occupational therapy and physical therapy.
  • Foundation programs designed to prepare students for the continuation of post-secondary education at college or university.
  • Significant collaborative learning and social spaces for our students, faculty and community.

“These infrastructure investments will help create high-quality, well-paying jobs that can help the middle class grow and prosper today, while also delivering sustained economic growth in the Durham Region for years to come”, said MP Caesar-Chavannes. “Through the Strategic Investment Fund, we are strengthening the foundation for building Canada into a global centre for innovation.”

Since announcing plans to replace the aging Simcoe building in April, DC has made steady progress on plans for the CFCE. The construction and architecture tenders have been awarded and initial work is expected to begin this fall with construction to be completed in 2018. A comprehensive design consultation process involving the builder and architects is now underway with each of the services, programs and departments that will be moving into the CFCE.

“Durham College has long been a vital component of our community,” said Granville Anderson, MPP, Durham. “This significant investment from the provincial and federal governments, which supports expanded programming and enhances Durham’s state-of-the-art learning environment, provides the renewal necessary to continue that important work.”

The college will soon launch a capital campaign to raise the additional $5 million for the construction of the building in partnership with individuals, corporations, community partners and alumni over a two-year period.

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.