Event Archive

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

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

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

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...

Durham College to Build Centre for Collaborative Education on Oshawa Campus

Durham College announced today that it has received $22 million in funding from the provincial government toward the construction of the Centre for Collaborative Education (CFCE) at the Oshawa campus. The announcement, which was made by Reza Moridi, minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, at an event held at the Oshawa campus this morning, represents one of the largest investments in DC by the provincial government since the college opened its doors in 1967. The CFCE will replace the college’s aging Simcoe building, which was originally built as a temporary structure and opened in 1969. The new three-storey facility, a legacy project tied to DC’s 50th anniversary in 2017, will bring together local, Indigenous and global communities, providing a new home for several of the college’s innovative and ground-breaking programs. “Although our Simcoe building has served us very well over the past 50 years, leaving behind a wonderful legacy of teaching, learning and memories for our students, faculty members and administrative staff, it has reached its end of life,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “As we prepare to celebrate DC’s 50th anniversary in 2017, we are excited to bridge our past with our future through the creation of a new facility where students, employees and the broader community can work together in ways that transcend traditional concepts of education. On behalf of everyone at DC, I extend my sincere thanks to the provincial government for its wonderful support in bringing our vision for the Centre for Collaborative Education to life.” DC has continued to experience tremendous growth year after year. This includes the addition of more than 40 new...

Start-Up Companies In Durham’s Innovation And Technology Sector Continue To Thrive At The Spark Centre In Oshawa

By Ian McMillan – Metroland (source) Dennis Croft is holding court at the Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre. As he walks through the spacious facilities located at the Loft, 21 Simcoe St. in Oshawa, his three guests are captivated, not only by what they’re hearing but the energy and people who surround them. These three entrepreneurs are looking for help and Mr. Croft appears to have what they are looking for. During any given week, he conducts between 20 and 30 such tours. It may be hard to believe but the Loft, Spark Centre’s head office, houses 50 innovation- and technology-based businesses in the Durham Region and Northumberland County. Inside, top 2015 companies such as IFTech, ARAIG, Sound Options, National ProStaff, Panda Insights, Tiko 3D and Seriously Fun Games, to name but a few, are busy building their start-up companies. The genesis of Spark Centre came in 2010 when the Durham Strategic Energy Alliance began to pursue an Ontario start-up program focused on innovation. Key players within the DSEA who saw the vision included Jacquie Hoornweg, Michael Angemeer, Michael Owen, Jeff Kistner, Debbie McKee Demczyk, Doug Lindeblom, Sheila McGrory and Johnathon Wheatle. In 2011, Spark Centre was born with Mr. Croft arriving as a volunteer mentor. He was tasked with helping the start-up companies with funding and investment, offering expertise on their business plans, marketing strategies and product developments, among other things. “You just can’t possibly know everything about business,” he said. “There are grant programs and other companies that can help them with their needs.” Kathy Weiss is chairwoman of Spark Centre’s board of directors and the director...

Thrive Applications Now Open

Applications for Spark Centre’s Thrive Accelerator Program – Cohort 4 are now open! THRIVE is a startup accelerator that offers a hybrid of incubation and acceleration services. Co-locate with the Spark Centre team and other tech startups to achieve a faster market entry with advisory and operational support services. All applications will be assessed based on team capability, attitude, and commitment, ability to execute, strength of innovation, and potential to generate revenue and raise capital. Applications close April 11th, 2016. All applicants will be sent an updated Terms and Conditions sheet prior to being notifying if they have been accepted into the...

Whitby-based KAI Innovations Acquires Trimara Corporation

KAI Innovations announced that it has acquired Trimara Corporation, a medical technology company based in Ottawa that has a primary focus offering an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) solution to physicians in Ontario.  Trimara is one of the fastest growing companies in the market and recently completed the acquisition of two smaller vendors in 2015. The multi-million dollar acquisition was an all-cash deal that has not altered the current share structure of KAI Innovations.   Arjun Kumar, CEO of KAI Innovations said “This is an exciting milestone in our rapidly expanding business.  We are excited to have the management team from Trimara join KAI Innovations as we have been impressed with their work.  The acquisition not only advances our already impressive growth rate, but the resulting team will be one of the strongest and most innovative in the market.”  On plans for the future, Mr. Kumar feels “We will continue to offer a top quality solution at economical prices.  It will be difficult for competitors to match our offering now that we have reached this position”. President of Trimara Corporation, Kris van der Starren, who will be joining KAI Innovations as the Chief Information Officer said “This amalgamation of top-talent in the OSCAR EMR space will benefit clinicians and clinical staff and improve patient care through the combined team’s ability to drive innovation into the OSCAR platform for all users of OSCAR. This is an extremely positive evolution for the entire OSCAR market and I am proud to be a part of it.” While KAI Innovations will look to expand nationally in 2016, majority of its operations will remain focused onOntario...

Brilliant Entrepreneurship Develops Brilliant Business Ideas

Sometimes the idea is the easy part. Then comes the challenge: how to make it a viable business venture. Getting a cool business idea off the ground is one of the biggest hurdles confronting any young entrepreneur. Maybe you’re an inventor, but you don’t have the business savvy or the available time to take your idea to the next level. When you’re new to the business world, the learning curve can be sharp. Sometimes it can be too steep. Where can you turn for advice and guidance? There’s a powerful entrepreneurial buzz these days at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology(UOIT). The learning environment on campus is dynamic and those with ambitious plans and bright ideas are taking advantage of a supportive new entrepreneurial culture – appropriately called Brilliant. Brilliant Entrepreneurship provides business development tools and skills such as workshops and bootcamps, incubation space, mentorship, networking and funding opportunities. During February’s mid-semester Reading Week, UOIT Brilliant Entrepreneurship and Spark Innovation Centre collaborated to deliver an intensive three-day entrepreneurial bootcamp for university students. The challenge: develop a viable business idea for the information technology and media industries. “Bootcamp participants from different university faculties went through the entire business startup experience – from the exuberance of the initial idea to the challenge of execution,” says David Pamenter, Executive-in-Residence, UOIT Brilliant Entrepreneurship. “After the first day, five teams were formed. We grouped students with different sets of entrepreneurial skills and challenged them to develop one great business idea they would later pitch to a panel of judges.” Students received catalyst tools and the support and guidance of experienced advisors, from Spark...