Author: Anthony Reinhart

Tech Roundup for March 2017

Photo: Canadian Bills/Coins by Anita Hart is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Money matters A focus on innovation and a commitment to tech and talent were hallmarks of the federal government’s 2017 budget, unveiled to largely positive reviewsfrom the tech community. Finance Minister Bill Morneau introduced a number of new programs and directed plenty of federal cash – a $1.18-billion investment in innovation and training – aimed at making Canada’s communities smarter and helping technology-based companies flourish. There was an emphasis on clean tech, digital industries, health and bio-science and additional money for clusters, skills development, artificial intelligence, procurement and venture capital. Count Kurtis McBride among the budget’s supporters. Shortly after its tabling in the House of Commons, McBride, CEO of Miovision and a driving force behind development of Internet of Things manufacturing lab Catalyst137, was seeking to leverage one of the budget’s programs into a win – literally – for Waterloo Region. The Smart Cities Challenge is a $300-million program designed to to spur municipalities to implement a smart-cities strategy. It’s being rolled out in the form of a contest, and McBride has already begun assembling a team to compete. The budget’s impact was still reverberating days later with the announcement of the Vector Institute, a new centre for artificial-intelligence research. The Toronto-based institute will aim to “drive the adoption and commercialization of AI technologies across Canada,” and capitalize on an early lead in the field generated in Canada. Clearpath Robotics CTO...

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Trucker-tech company BigRoad acquired by Fleet Complete of Toronto

BigRoad, a Waterloo Region startup whose technology modernized the way truckers log their hours and other data, has been acquired by Fleet Complete, a Toronto-based provider of fleet-tracking services. Details of the acquisition have not been disclosed, but “this partnership will enable Fleet Complete to offer the industry’s best electronic logging device (ELD) compliance platform in North America,” the Toronto company said in a news release. BigRoad, founded in 2011 and initially housed in Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre, has helped move the massive trucking industry out of the paper era and into the digital realm with its software applications. Its smartphone...

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Tech Roundup for February 2017

Photo: News reporters at a Thomson Reuters announcement in Toronto, Oct. 7, 2016 (Communitech photo: Anthony Reinhart) We interrupt this broadcast . . . …to report that Dejero Labs is the latest homegrown Waterloo Region tech company to secure a major infusion of growth capital. Dejero, whose technology is used by the world’s top news broadcasters to report live from just about anywhere without satellite trucks, raised CAD$14 million from Toronto-based Wellington Financial, a private-equity firm. One of Canada’sfastest-growing tech companies for three years running, Dejero also appointed a new CEO, Bruce Anderson, who succeeds Brian Cram. Dejero’s news, the first significant raise for a Waterloo Region tech firm to be announced in 2017, followed a report that 2016 was a good year for investment in venture-backed Canadian companies. While the volume of deals globally dropped 10 per cent from 2015, deal volume rose seven per cent in Canada. Additionally, while global deal value dropped 23 per cent last year, it remained virtually flat in Canada, at $1.7 billion invested. Waterloo Region saw a 65 per cent increase in VC deal value in 2016, with $253 million invested, including $120 million in Thalmic Labs, the wearable computing company. Growth at all stages Thalmic, incidentally, was dubbed “Canada’s hottest startup” in an Inc. profileof the company best known for its Myo gesture-control arm band. Thalmic is building a manufacturing facility to develop future products that promise to change human-computer interaction....

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Tech Roundup for January 2017

Photo: A U.S. clampdown on immigration has some tech workers looking north of the border. (Communitech photo: Anthony Reinhart) Trump, travel bans and talent After two months of wondering how the U.S. election might affect the Canadian tech community, we’ve seen answers begin to emerge in the early days of President Donald Trump’s administration. When Trump signed an executive order restricting immigration from several Muslim-majority countries, Canada’s tech leaders signed an open letter affirming their support for diversity and global labour mobility, and swiftly issued a call for our own government to welcome any tech workers affected by the order. The new president’s stance stood in stark contrast to Canada’s approach to immigration, as personified by Mahfouz Al-Sheikh, a Syrian software developer who was welcomed into Waterloo Region’s tech community. As subsequent reports surfaced of a Trump proposal to curtail visas for foreign tech workers, some floated the possibility of Silicon Valley companies moving their foreign employees north to Canada. Of course, efforts to lure Silicon Valley tech workers – specifically Canadian expats – to Canada have been under way since last June, when Communitech and partners launched the Go North Canada campaign. The initiative had already borne fruit before the Trump administration was sworn in. Individual companies have also succeeded in bringing top U.S. talent into their ranks in recent months, including Waterloo Region’s Thalmic Labs. Abhi Bhatt of Austin, TX, where he worked for Under Armour, has joined the fast-growing...

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Tech North panel highlights potential of Toronto-Waterloo Region Corridor

Drawing on ideas from a game-changing bet on artificial intelligence to transportation infrastructure and even informal network-building dinners for regional enterpreneurs, Tech North’s four founders are calling on policy-makers, investors, and post-secondary institutions to get behind development of Canada’s first “technology supercluster” in the Toronto-Waterloo Region corridor. The region has the potential to create $50 billion in new equity, $17.5 billion in additional GDP and 175,000 high-tech jobs by 2025 if an ambitious and aggressive strategy to turbocharge the area’s existing assets – including Toronto’s financial and tech manufacturing base, the startup and innovation sector in Waterloo Region, and...

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