Durham College Hackathon

Durham College Hackathon

Durham College (DC) students got a chance to flex their problem-solving muscles and confront a major sustainability challenge this week when they took part in the first-ever DC Hackathon on April 26. The event, which took place at the college’s Oshawa campus in conjunction with DC’s annual Research Day, was hosted by FastStartDC, an entrepreneurship training program offered by the college, and co-sponsored by a number of local organizations including Spark Centre, Bereskin & Parr, GM Canada, ORION, and Durham Regional Economic Development,  the organization tasked with promoting economic growth and development in Durham Region. For the uninitiated, a hackathon is a short, intensive session where teams are given a problem, and bring their own skills and resources to solve challenges. With support from the college’s sustainability office, the DC Hackathon focused on the impact of climate change and how current patterns of human activity can be changed to promote better environmental sustainability. More than 60 students from DC’s various academic schools participated in the event, where they were divided into teams and encouraged to come up with whatever ideas were feasible to solve the challenge. Whether it was building an app, creating a plan of action, presenting an oral report or designing a product prototype, all options were on the table. “Our first-ever hackathon was a huge success and really underscored DC’s commitment to give our students the opportunity to take on high-level research challenges,” said Rebecca Holmes, entrepreneurship co-ordinator at FastStart DC. “Sustainability is very important to the college and the students enjoyed meeting their counterparts from many different programs as they worked together and created innovative new ideas to solve...
Ignite is Coming!

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 • Student Entrepreneurs: September 28 • General 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...
Thrive Accelerator Program: Cohort 4

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...
Spark Centre’s Soft Landing Program Welcomes Brazil

Spark Centre’s Soft Landing Program Welcomes Brazil

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...
Henlen Watches Launches Kickstarter Campaign

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...
Top Employers Come Together To Host Idea Summit

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...