Photo: It’s been a good summer to stay inside and get work done.

It’s tough to reconcile the looming end of August when the air makes it feel like we’re still waiting for summer.

Cool as it’s been these past two months, it’s been another hot season for headlines around the Waterloo Region tech sector.

As we prepare to welcome you back to reality next week, we thought it was an opportune time to catch you up on stories you might have missed while sitting by the pool, on the dock, or under a blanket shivering as you wondered if we’d skipped a season. And so, here’s your summer 2014 highlight reel:

July

  • Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre named Dr. Paul Salvini, formerly of Kitchener-based Christie Digital, as its new CEO. Salvini, who is taking up his new duties this week, will also serve as Associate Vice-President, Research Commercialization at the University of Waterloo. Salvini’s passion for Waterloo Region’s approach to innovation shone through in our Q+A with him.
  • Ivan Lukianchuk, previously known as founder of Communitech HYPERDRIVE Cohort 1 startup Will Pwn 4 Food, launched a crowdfunding campaign for This Is Your Out, his Bluetooth-enabled key fob that calls your phone and gets you out of awkward social situations. Lukianchuk’s funding drive, complete with a series of entertaining videos, drew plenty of laughs but failed to pry open enough wallets, stalling at $3,824, well short of his $100,000 goal.
  • It was a much different story for Structur3D Printing, a HYPERDRIVE Cohort 4 company, whose Nutella-dispensing extruder for 3D printers topped its $30,000 Kickstarter goal in two days, and ultimately raised $126,000 from 511 backers.
  • Continuing on the hardware theme, Aeryon Labs moved into new digs in Waterloo, to accommodate its steady growth as a maker of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The company now employs 75 people and has seen year-over-year growth of 100 per cent for the past five years, Terry Pender of the Waterloo Region Record reported.
  • Also in July: Clipter (HYPERDRIVE Cohort 4) launched its collaborative video app; PumpUp (Cohort 2) announced its $2.4-million seed round; and Wagepoint (Cohort 4) launched in the U.S.

August

  • Our own Tech About Town columnist Kayleigh Platz brought us the story of Alison Brooks, the world’s outstanding female architect of 2013 and a University of Waterloo alumna, who returned from her current home in the U.K. to give a lecture about city building at the Perimeter Institute. The talk was part of Building Waterloo Region, a summer-long initiative sponsored by Waterloo-based Kik that aimed to get us all thinking about the role our built environment has played in bringing meaning to our lives.
  • Speaking of city building, registration has opened for the second iteration of CityAge: The Innovation City, a conference slated for Oct. 9-10 at the CIGI Auditorium in Waterloo. Last year’s inaugural event ended with a brief discussion around the idea of an innovation ‘supercluster’ along the Highway 401 corridor between Waterloo Region and Toronto. This year’s follow-up, sponsored by Communitech, will take a deeper dive into the issues around making the supercluster a reality.
  • Steadily growing edtech company Desire2Learn, meanwhile, bolted on another booster rocket in the form of an $85-million Series B investment round. The funding injection comes two years after D2L raised an $80-million A round, its first outside investment since CEO John Baker founded the company while still a student in 1999.
  • Thalmic Labs, Kitchener-based maker of the Myo gesture-control armband, began shipping 40,000 devices pre-ordered by eager customers over the past year and a half, as a prelude to making the Myo available for general purchase in September.
  • On the topic of gesture-driven computing, Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows team descended on downtown Kitchener during the city’s annual blues festival to host a hackathon, and left town duly impressed with the calibre of tech talent here, as well as the hospitality.
  • Chris Alexander, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, visited the Communitech Hub to provide an update on the government’s unique-in-the-world Start-up Visa program. He also met with entrepreneurs to discuss measures to make it easier to bring tech talent and investment to this country.
  • And Clearpath Robotics, based in Kitchener, made headlines when it became the first company to sign on to the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, choosing to “value ethics over potential future revenue.”

We’ll no doubt expect more news out of Waterloo Region’s tech sector in the coming days and weeks, as companies get back up to full steam (if they slowed down over the summer at all, that is). As it unfolds, we’ll be here to share it with you on our all-new Communitech News site, which launches the day after Labour Day.

Stay tuned.

Anthony Reinhart is Communitech’s Director of Editorial Strategy and senior staff writer. View from the ‘Loo looks at the issues, people and events that shape Waterloo Region’s technology sector.

About The Author

Anthony Reinhart
Director, Editorial Strategy
Google+

Anthony Reinhart is a veteran journalist who left the Globe and Mail to join Communitech in 2011. Tony has covered everything from crime, politics and courts to business, the arts and sports, and his writing has won numerous journalism awards. He is Communitech's Director of Editorial Strategy and senior staff writer.