Looking for relief from the mid-winter blahs? We’ve got you covered. Sure, the pandemic sucks and we can’t wait for spring. But cheer up – we’re here to give you a break and catch you up on what happened in the Waterloo Region tech community as 2021 lurched into action. So, grab a hot cocoa, put on your favorite slippers and let’s get hygge (you know, that Danish thing about candles, comfort and coziness)!
And the Emmy goes to...
...Waterloo scale-up SSIMWAVE, which bagged its second Emmy Award for groundbreaking work in television video quality. In 2015, SSIMWAVE co-founder and Chief Science Officer Zhou Wang earned the company’s first Engineering Emmy for his role in inventing the structural similarity (SSIM) video quality measurement model.
Other members of the Waterloo Region Emmy club include Dejero, which won in 2019 and 2020 for its video-broadcast networking technology, and BlackBerry, which won an Emmy and an Oscar for a digital film reader way back in the 1990s when the company was called Research In Motion.
Social Solutions Global of Austin, Tex. announced plans to acquire Waterloo-based Athena Software. Both companies make case-management software for social service and not-for-profit organizations. Athena CEO Geoff Bellew says the Athena name will be “retired” but Social Solutions is keen on Athena’s flagship software, called Penelope, and plans to keep the Waterloo operation, which employs 80 people. Financial terms were not disclosed.
From software to food, EMERGE Commerce Ltd. (TSXV: ECOM) acquired Kitchener-based meat subscription service truLOCAL for up to CDN$16.8 million. Founded in 2016 and based in the Communitech Hub, truLOCAL sources locally produced meat and sells it to consumers through a subscription model. Founder and CEO Marc Lafleur, who will stay on, said truLOCAL’s Kitchener staff count will remain at 15 for the time being.
Moving on to companies named after creatures… Waterloo’s Octopuz and Guelph’s ShipperBee both announced acquisition news in January. Octopuz, which creates software for offline robotics programming, has been acquired by ESAB Group Canada Inc., according to a news release. Over in Guelph, ShipperBee – a package delivery system for retailers that lowers costs and carbon emissions by skipping distribution centres – has sold its parcel delivery division to Torstar subsidiary Metroland Parcel Services. ShipperBee will retain its intellectual property, parcel transfer mailbox network, and staff, according to the Toronto Star.
Kitchener-based medtech company Cloud DX says it will create 15 skilled jobs in Waterloo Region and grow its employee count to 41, thanks to a $500,000 investment from FedDev Ontario and an additional $4 million in private-sector investment. The funding will “significantly increase” Cloud DX’s international customer base and export sales, the company said. Cloud DX helps health-care providers remotely monitor patients’ vital signs, blood pressure, temperature, respiration and more.
Kitchener-based scale-up Clearpath Robotics Inc. completed a US$5-million secure convertible note financing with BDC Capital Inc. to propel growth. The funds, combined with Clearpath’s previously announced Series C financing, brings the total raised in the last year to US$43.4 million, the company said. The money will be used for working capital, product development, and building out sales and marketing operations for Clearpath and its OTTO Motors division.
A Guelph-based startup has unveiled a sophisticated grow system to improve the consistency of medicinal cannabis. Cadence Agricultural Systems Inc. (CASi) combines a sealed grow chamber with integrated software that gives cultivators more control over climatic conditions such as light, temperature, humidity, and oxygen. The software allows growers to create repeatable “recipes,” run reports and analyze results. Industry experts say the CASiGrow system addresses one of the biggest complaints from consumers of medicinal cannabis – finding a product that has the same impact each time you buy a new supply.
Intellectual property is the foundation for success in the innovation economy. With that in mind, Communitech has launched a new initiative to help Canada and individual companies strengthen their approach to IP.
Communitech’s IP initiative has two components: first, a series of white papers and activities to spark discussion and thought leadership; and second, a leading-edge training program to help business people develop more effective IP strategies. The IP training courses launch this spring. The first white paper, written by innovation economist Charles Plant, is called, Towards a New Understanding of Intellectual Property: IP 2.0.
Also on the IP front, the Financial Post ran two stories quoting Waterloo IP lawyer Jim Hinton who, along with former BlackBerry co-CEO Jim Balsillie, launched the non-profit Innovation Asset Collective this past December. One story addressed the gap between what Canadian universities spend on R & D and the revenue they bring in from IP licensing. The other warned that the benefits from Canadian quantum research may flow to foreign firms because of gaps in Canada’s approach to securing intellectual property.
An innovative filtration technology helped two Waterloo Region firms – the BIG-nano Corporation and Prescientx – win a national competition for developing essential products to combat COVID-19 and address future challenges.
Waterloo-based edtech company InkSmith signed an agreement with Farnell to distribute its popular Climate Action Kit, a coding and robotics tool to help students apply technology to solve real-world problems.
Gold Sentintel Inc. is collaborating with the University of Waterloo to improve the performance of its remote activity monitoring and fall-detection system.
Toxon Technologies of Waterloo announced the launch of its BOWdometer Open Platform, which allows archery manufacturers and app developers to use real-time shooting data from the BOWdometer archery practice companion in their products.
In other news
- Bridgit has hired Daphne Gorman as Head of Talent Acquisition for the company, which makes resource-management software for the construction industry.
- Waterloo-based Magnet Forensics was featured in the Financial Post for applying its digital crime-fighting tools to solve fraud, IP theft and employee misconduct.
- The Financial Post also ran a great story about the collaboration behind Waterloo Region’s volunteer drive to ensure a steady supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health-care workers and other frontline employees.
- Property insurer Chubb will offer leak and flood detection technology from Kitchener-based Alert Labs to its commercial clients across Canada.
- A subsidiary of Waterloo Region spinal medical device company Synergy Disc Replacement Inc. (SDRi) has begun a U.S. clinical trial for the company’s Synergy Disc, which helps restore motion and correct balance in patients.
- The Founder Institute in Palo Alto, California has announced a Canadian legal services partnership with Torys LLP to help strengthen Canada’s startup ecosystem.
This edition of the Roundup compiled by Kevin Crowley.
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