ventureLAB announces first cohort of its Hardware Catalyst Initiative companies

Markham, Ontario-based technology hub ventureLAB has announced the first cohort of companies in its Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI), Canada’s first hardware and silicon-focused incubator for tech companies building solutions for technologies like AI, IoT, wearable computing, 5G, and other transformative technologies that will enable the creation of products and solutions that scale globally.

The eight successful applicants, which have to be located in Southern Ontario (or be willing to establish a long-term presence), were founded within the five years preceding their applications, have had less than $5 million in revenue in the last 12 months, and have met criteria around their product plans, will receive a series of benefits including:

  • 24/7 access to a 1500 square foot hardware lab with state-of-the-art specialized equipment, such as high-speed spectrum analyzer and high-speed oscilloscope, as well as prototyping, production services, and Electronic Design Automation (EDA) toolsets
  • Access to highly experienced hardware and silicon development experts, as well as supply chain management, product environmental compliance, and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) compliance experts
  • Dedicated advisory team to work with the company to define business milestones and to support them with resource navigation, introductions, and putting a growth plan in place
  • Specialized supports and guidance around: intellectual property (IP) protection, market development, purchase and supply contracts
  • Support through the Capital Investment Program
  • Access to Market Intelligence and premium reports from top-tier research firms
  • Premium access to curated educational programming and exclusive partner 1-on-1s
  • Free workspace (up to 2 spots per team) at ventureLAB

The initiative launched in June 2019 with $5 million in funding from Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). Since then, six founding industry partners – AMD, Synopsys, Microart Services Inc., ReMap, Bereskin & Parr, and MNP – have committed up to $8 million in resources, expertise, and mentorship for the cohort.

“In the U.S., every semiconductor job that’s created creates almost five new jobs across the economy. And it’s a $7 trillion global market,” said Melissa Chee, president and chief executive officer of ventureLAB. “So I think, for Canada, if I bring it back home, we have this immense amount of talent, and rigour and expertise and really historic pioneering examples in this country of really being able to deliver systems, but primarily we have a deep silicon and semiconductor base here. And so we’re very excited to see our partners reinvest in the sector.”

The eight companies in the inaugural cohort are:

The inaugural HCI cohort. Photo submitted.
  • Bionic-i — A hardware biotechnology company focused on augmenting vision and combating blindness with a surgically implantable device that can treat and monitor an “orphan” genetic disease, as well as rejuvenate cataract surgical patients by eliminating their need for reading glasses
  • BluMind.AI — Analog machine learning inferencing; engines for network Edge devices
  • Cyberworks Robotics — AI-based technology for autonomous self-driving wheelchairs
  • Ekidna Sensing — Will provide a rapid and critical testing solution for licensed producers in the global cannabis industry
  • Humantec Inc. | Menopod — Manufactures the ‘Menopod’, a handheld electronic cooling device for women suffering from hot flashes during menopause
  • Micromensio — A semiconductor company developing a unique biosensing technology to provide transformative solutions for healthcare, the environment, and industry
  • TARTAN AI — A hardware company optimizing machine learning to offer processing elements and transparent memory compression technologies to reduce the computation, storage, and communication needed when executing machine learning models on silicon.
  • Wind Shape Technology Inc. — Designs and manufactures proximity sensors for electronic faucets

Over the next five years, HCI plans to support up to 40 companies, create more than 200 jobs, and commercialize 15 new products and technologies.

“When this started three years ago, it was a big vision to really rebuild and put this ecosystem from a silicon and semiconductor and hardware perspective back on the map,” Chee noted. “And the bigger vision for this is that this becomes one of a select few global hubs around the world for semiconductor and semiconductor related products and companies, big, small, and in all in between.”

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Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner has been interpreting tech for businesses for over 20 years and has worked in the industry as well as writing about it, giving her a unique perspective into the issues companies face. She has both IT credentials and a business degree.

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