Spark’s Soft Landing Program A Success!

During the week of May 16th, Spark Innovation Centre hosted five companies from Brazil for our first International Soft Landing “Touchdown” Program in partnership with the Region of Durham Economic Development team. These five companies learned all about doing business in Canada from Spark Centre advisors and partners, and about the numerous resources available in Durham Region.

The Touchdown Program is focused on providing emerging and earlier stage innovative companies the opportunity to learn about doing business in Canada. The program provides orientation and exposure to key areas including Marketing, Sales, Legal, Intellectual Property, Financial and Human Resources.


The five Brazilian companies were welcomed to Spark Centre’s head office at Core21 in Downtown Oshawa to attend a variety of in-depth workshops Monday – Thursday. A networking event was hosted on Thursday evening for these five companies to meet with local startups to learn about their experiences and to gain knowledge from how they have started their business in Canada. Spark Centre staff, partners and service providers also attended to encourage business connections and access to support structures for their next visit to Canada.


On Friday, the companies were treated to a full day bus tour of Durham Region which showcased some of the local attractions and what it would be like to live, work and play in the region. Participants learned about real estate, the rental market, local projects, and large Durham based companies while checking out the beautiful waterfronts and thriving communities. The week ended with a great showcase of all that the Region of Durham has to offer.



Thrive Accelerator Program: Cohort 4

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

Spark Centre is excited to introduce and welcome two new companies:

Henlen Watches: Creators of the first interchangeable smartwatch that allows for a smart component to be swapped with various designs and watch styles.

CrossPlatform Cloud Technologies Inc.: CrossPlatform is focused on harnessing the best of the cloud and make it more accessible, easier to use, and delivering innovative products for users.

Spark Centre is also excited to welcome back the following companies to Cohort 4:

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.

Sound Options: Sound Options provides effective treatments for reducing chronic ringing in the ears by working with hearing clinics to provide a software-generated customized sound therapy embedded in music.

Panda Insights: Creators of the first bio-metric data driven customer loyalty solution connecting health & fitness retailers with gym members. Their solution uses fitness wearables to track gym member work-out activity.

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.

To learn more about the Thrive Accelerator Program, visit

Top Employers Come Together To Host Idea Summit

Eight of Durham Region’s largest employers came together with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) on Tuesday, May 10 for the region’s first-ever Idea Summit. The one-day conference, which was held at the Durham College (DC) Centre for Food, provided a platform for the development of a new strategy aimed at creating jobs and stimulating investment and innovation in the region.

360 Insights, AECOM, DC, General Motors of Canada, Lakeridge Health, Ontario Power Generation, Spark Innovation Centre, and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, were all in attendance along with the OCC and the leadership from chambers of commerce and boards of trade across Durham Region. The chief executive officers from each of the employers committed a combined 90 employees and partners to be part of the full-day discussion, which was full of energy, engagement and discussion about how to move the community forward.

A number of objectives were identified as priorities for the coming months, which will be guided by the steering group of CEOs to ensure momentum is sustained and results realized. Among the objectives is to establish a common and clear vision for Durham Region that is endorsed and supported by all levels of government, business and other organizations, and the broader community; ‘collision’ (or hackathon) events that bring different community partners together to discuss and find solutions for issues of importance to the community; and the establishment of a mentoring network of senior leaders for small- and medium-sized start-ups and entrepreneurs. The CEO steering group will identify individuals and groups to take leadership on specific actions, and will be looking to the broader community for support moving forward.

Although Durham Region benefits from a highly skilled and well-educated workforce and has some of the lowest industrial and commercial land prices in the Greater Toronto Area, the region lags its local counterparts in job creation. At present, statistics show there are only 67 jobs in the region for every 100 employable workers, compared to 86 in Halton Region, 91 in York Region, 100 in Peel and more than 124 in Toronto. The summit is the first step in what is expected to be an ongoing process designed to create the conditions necessary to increase job growth and investment in the area via a long-term dialogue that will provide recommendations to all levels of government on ways to improve Durham Region’s competitiveness and help attract investment opportunities.

To ensure diversity among attendees, each partner was asked to provide 12 representatives from within their organization, resulting in a strategic dialogue focused on the importance of innovation, economic and social diversification for the region and its surrounding areas.

The day began with a keynote address by John Baker, president and chief executive officer of Desire2Learn, a highly successful online learning systems software company, followed by facilitated sessions and a moderated panel discussion on growing innovation and entrepreneurship.  The panel discussion featured three successful Durham-based entrepreneurs: Jason Atkins from 360 Insights, Jeff Quipp of Search Engine People, and Russ Montague of Nerd Block and ShirtPunch.

“It is clear that Durham Region is in an early maturation stage of an innovative economy and therefore it is critical that our local business leaders come together to develop a new community vision to drive innovation, growth, productivity and workforce development,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC, speaking on behalf of the participating organizations. “Together we are proud to play a role in this community-wide effort, which will lead to positive change and innovation throughout the region.”

Henlen Watches Launches Kickstarter Campaign

Spark Centre is very pleased to announce our client and Oshawa based start-up, Henlen Watches has launched their Kickstarter campaign.

“People from across our region ask how they can help emphasize and support our evolving innovative economy. Henlen Watches is a great example of how the community can directly support start-ups becoming global leaders,” says Dennis Croft, President & CEO of Spark Innovation Centre. “I would encourage people all across our community to check Henlen out on Kickstarter and consider supporting their campaign.”

Henlen Watches has created the world’s first interchangeable smartwatch. Their smartwatch allows their smartpiece, “the cell” to be swapped and compatible with any of their custom bodies and designs.

Unlike most smartwatch companies, Henlen is focused on the design just as much as the technology. By allowing the smart component to be its own isolated piece, Henlen Watches can switch easily between different custom watch designs. The Cell is the core that powers Henlen Smartwatch, it sports a 400×400 1.39” AMOLED display powered a Mediatek processor and a 450 mAh battery. With this piece, Henlen has provided users everything needed in a smartwatch.

Henlen’s Kickstarter campaign, offers one cell and one watch body for $275 USD. The interchangeability of the Henlen Watch allows backers to have two different styles of smartwatches for just $325. In total, there will are four different styles of watches as part of “The Origin Series” offered during the campaign. There is truly a style for everyone.

“We are thrilled to be launching on Kickstarter,” says Kyle George, CEO of Henlen Watches. “Over the past year of development, we have really seen the market shift to the type of smart watch we are offering.”

You can be one of the first to own a Henlen Watch! CLICK HERE to back their campaign.

Client Profile: CrossPlatform Cloud Technologies

Founded in 2016, CrossPlatform Cloud Technologies is focused on harnessing the best of the cloud and make it more accessible, easier to use, and to deliver increased levels of simplicity of the underlying solutions. Ranging from applications to increase day-to-day productivity and convenience to scaling small business challenges, CrossPlatform is committed to making the cloud work for you.

CrossPlatform is a new kid on the Spark block. Having been in the office space of the Loft since early January has proven to be an incredibly positive experience for us as we are getting started. When recently asked about it, our CEO, Laryn Fernandes, has this to say about Spark:

“We couldn’t be happier to work with Dennis and his team of industry professionals, they are a fantastic team’, said Fernandes. “This is the start of a very exciting relationship that we want to grow and develop with as we work towards our common goals. Also, the environment at the Loft is great for us since it’s filled with energetic and successful companies that are all rooting for one another.”

So, new kid on the block or not, we feel like we belong and have something to contribute to this high-quality and unique startup environment that is right in our backyard.

At CrossPlatform we have sky-high ambitions. We are working on making products that take the existing experience with cloud services, like Dropbox, and making them work better in our increasingly digital lives.

Our list of priorities for cloud based applications cover the gambit of what a digital user faces each day:
• Security, encryption, data residency; The online world is built on trust and all users, providers, and regulators should be focused on increasing the overall standards of security and privacy.
• Integration; Many applications are involved, many steps are manual, many tools have been created to streamline the processes, but in the end, the integration and aggregation of the content and processes is still handled by users.
• Faster deployment; Updates are just pushed out in the background and you can focus on doing your tasks and not worry about updating your software.
• Innovative and modern; The modern user is very savvy and understands what works for them and what doesn’t almost instantly so it is essential that we continue to work on the overall user experience.
• Uptime; The average user expects applications always be available and it’s because the providers of cloud applications are so obsessed with uptime that you shouldn’t have to be.
• Mobile first; As mobile technologies become more part of our daily lives the line between using an app or a service on a smartphone, tablet, or PC will continue to blur.

We are working hard on our first product to start addressing these priorities and will be announcing more about that in coming months. It’s a very exciting time for us, and we couldn’t be happier to be based at Spark while working on making products that users will really love.

To learn more about CrossPlatform visit our website or connect with us on social media.

Twitter: @CrossPlatformCT
Facebook: CrossPlatformCT
LinkedIn: CrossPlatform Cloud Technologies Inc.