Southern Ontario Spotlight

Southern Ontario Spotlight

January 2024

FedDev Ontario's focus on economic development

Making headlines

Investing in affordable housing

FedDev Ontario Minister Filomena Tassi stands with BECC Modular representatives in a model home.

Affordable housing is a top priority for the Government of Canada, and southern Ontario’s manufacturing sector is helping by developing innovative solutions to increase the supply of attainable homes.

FedDev Ontario recently announced a $2.5-million investment for BECC Modular, a manufacturing company providing turn-key modular homes for affordable housing projects and commercial properties. Founded in 2020, Ancaster-based BECC Modular is committed to sustainability and uses certified recycled steel as its primary building material because it is strong, durable and can be recycled indefinitely. Through this investment, BECC will adopt more efficient steel frame manufacturing capabilities for modular home construction, and is expected to produce up to 2,200 modular structures per year for single and multi-story buildings across Canada and abroad. In addition, this project will create 35 new jobs in the Hamilton region.

“This is the right investment at the right time. BECC Modular has access to the right labour and materials in Hamilton to scale up dramatically our production output and respond rapidly to the ever-increasing demand for housing of all types.”

– Ali Ozden, Chief Executive Officer, BECC Modular

Tourism Growth Program accepting applications until February 29

Graphic promoting FedDev Ontario’s tourism growth program, with image of cross country skiers.

The Tourism Growth Program, an initiative delivered by Canada's regional development agencies (RDAs), provides $108 million over 3 years to support communities, small- and medium-sized businesses and not-for-profit organizations in developing local tourism products and experiences, with approximately 15% dedicated to support Indigenous tourism-led initiatives.

Applications for the first intake are still being accepted through to February 29, 2024. Potential applicants are encouraged to visit FedDev Ontario’s Tourism Growth Program website for information on eligibility criteria and the application process.

Visiting southern Ontario EV innovators

FedDev Ontario Minister Filomena Tassi watches a demonstration in an advanced manufacturing warehouse environment.

Canada’s electric vehicle (EV) sector is poised for rapid growth, and southern Ontario’s automotive manufacturing capabilities make the region an attractive location for companies focused on electric vehicle (EV) innovation.

Early this month, FedDev Ontario Minister Filomena Tassi and Parliamentary Secretary Bryan May traveled across southwestern Ontario visiting with businesses operating in the EV sector, to learn more about the innovative processes and products they are bringing to market. Starting in Cambridge, Minister Tassi and PS May visited ATS Industrial Automation Inc., an automation solutions provider that supports the creation of assembly lines for EV battery production. ATS representatives provided an overview of the company, its current EV battery projects, and a tour of the facility.

Minister Tassi also announced a nearly $3-million investment for the Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation (Waterloo EDC) to attract and create supply chain and business investment opportunities in key sectors, such as automotive, including EV, cleantech and agri-food, to the Waterloo Region and rural townships. Waterloo EDC will use this funding to support the surrounding townships by developing investment readiness strategies to attract businesses in important sectors to the Region, and will support the advancement of the EV sector through targeted growth activities.

In St. Thomas, Amino North America, a leading automotive body panel and components manufacturer, received an investment of $2 million to expand its facility by 42,000 sq. ft. and add a new automotive parts manufacturing line using state-of-the-art processes to support the production of battery compartments for the EV market. This project will also create and maintain 45 jobs while continuing to strengthen the London area’s growing auto sector and developing EV cluster.

Minister Tassi also met with local businesses, organizations and community leaders in the EV and automotive sector at the St. Thomas Chamber of Commerce, where they discussed the important contributions that automotive businesses are providing to the growing EV sector. Afterwards, she visited Formet Industries, a subsidiary of Magna International Inc., for a tour of its facility and to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to the transformation to electric vehicle manufacturing in southern Ontario.

Strengthening southern Ontario communities

FedDev Ontario Minister Filomena Tassi watches a man make coffee at a barista station.

Small businesses are an integral part of communities across the southern Ontario region. They bring people together and contribute to unique and vibrant neighbourhoods. The Government of Canada is committed to making strategic investments so that locally-owned businesses and communities small and large can thrive.

In Unionville, Minister Tassi met with members of the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI), along with several My Main Street recipients, about the future of the My Main Street Program, as well as challenges and opportunities faced by small businesses in York Region. Topics of discussion included pain points and challenges for small businesses and entrepreneurs in starting and growing their businesses, and how Government of Canada and FedDev Ontario support can be improved to increase accessibility for entrepreneurs and small businesses in their communities.

The Minister announced a $15-million investment for the Canadian Urban Institute to continue the recovery and revitalization of main streets across southern Ontario through My Main Street (MMS). This investment will help the organization launch two new programs through MMS to provide funding and support for businesses and community organizations across southern Ontario. The new programs will help draw people to main streets and encourage locals and visitors to support an estimated 2,500 community businesses and organizations. While in the region, Minister Tassi also met with local businesses, organizations and community leaders for a roundtable discussion on the important contributions small businesses are providing to the economy and the ways in which the Government of Canada can support them as they reach their potential.

“The future of Canada’s cities starts on our main streets. Today’s announcement from the federal government will provide needed supports directly to small businesses and the communities they operate in. The continued investment in My Main Street recognizes the importance of main streets as crucial  to the economic resilience of  towns and cities across southern Ontario.”

– Mary W. Rowe, President and CEO, Canadian Urban Institute

Minister Tassi was also featured in the January 2024 issue of CanadianSME Magazine, where she highlighted the value of small businesses to Canada’s economy and the character of our communities, as well as the importance of government support to SMEs and initiatives that promote entrepreneurship. Read the full article (page 56).

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FedDev Ontario recipient news and updates

First Nations Technical Institute graduate finds success in Nunavut’s skies

Indigenous pilot Joseph Akulukjuk at the controls of his airplane.

First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) is an Indigenous-owned and governed post-secondary institute offering aerospace and advanced aviation training programs from its Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory facility in Ontario. A recent story published by CBC News highlighted 24-year-old Joseph Akulukjuk, a graduate of FNTI’s flight school recently hired by Inuit-operated airline Canadian North to pilot its aircraft in Akulukjuk’s home territory of Nunavut. The young pilot trained at the facility for three years, during which a 2022 fire destroyed FNTI’s hangar and fleet of aircraft. But determination and family support paid off, and Canadian North sees Akulukjuk as a role model for Inuk youth across the territory he will cover.

For the full story, read CBC’s article here.

Support from Bioenterprise’s SmartGrowth program helps agri-tech innovator reach international markets

A man in a lab coat standing in an agriculture manufacturing environment.

Bioenterprise Canada is a food and agri-tech accelerator based out of Guelph, Ontario. In 2021, the organization launched the SmartGrowth program to provide acceleration funding and services for firms looking to scale new innovations in the agriculture sector.

Farm Health Guardian, a company founded in Guelph, provides digital disease control and management tools to farmers and food companies to help prevent and control disease outbreaks. Its biosecurity technology monitors for livestock disease such as African Swine Fever or Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza through contact tracing and personnel movement, helping the food industry keep its animals healthy and reducing costs. The company received funding support from the SmartGrowth Program to pursue expansion opportunities in the U.K. and Europe, and several key partnerships have been developed as a result. A recent merger with Nebraksa-based Novetechnologies LLC will allow Farm Health Guardian to access new, valuable U.S. markets.

In 2019, FedDev Ontario provided Bioenterprise with a $6.3-million contribution towards the creation of an agri-food hub in southern Ontario and the development of the SmartGrowth program.

For more information, read Bioenterprise’s success story here.

DiagnaMed positioned for rapid growth of its innovative brain health tool through participation in SOPHIE program

Graphic illustration of a human brain.

Generative AI healthtech company DiagnaMed was recently accepted into the Southern Ontario Pharmaceutical and Health Innovation System (SOPHIE) program, a partnership between Innovation Factory and Synapse Life Science Consortium bringing together a network of experts in the life sciences field to help businesses accelerate the commercialization of their products.

DiagnaMed’s CERVAI™ Brain Health AI Platform uses proprietary software to predict and monitor brain age and provide actionable insights and tools to diagnose, prevent or improve cognitive decline for mental health and neurodegenerative disorders. Through the SOPHIE program, DiagnaMed will receive advisory services, testing capabilities and financial support needed from experts in the healthcare field to further scale CERVAI™ and reach new markets.

For the full story, read Innovation Factory’s news release here.

APMA accepting proposals from auto manufacturers for Project Arrow 2.0

APMA’s Project Arrow electric vehicle.

The Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) opened a new portal for Canadian manufacturers looking to participate in its next generation zero-emissions vehicle, dubbed Project Arrow 2.0. This request for proposal (RFP) portal is open to automotive suppliers with products and technologies that are currently commercially available, and cross-industry electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem partners looking to contribute to the project. RFPs are being accepted through to March 31, 2024 (or April 15, 2024 for APMA members).

Visit APMA’s Project Arrow 2.0 RFP portal for more information.

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Social media highlights

linkedin The Government of Canada is committed to investing in tech companies so they can continue to push boundaries and expand to new markets, create skilled jobs and strengthen the economy.

That is why today, Minister Tassi announced a Government of Canada investment of $4.5 million for the ventureLAB, to continue to support local semiconductor-focused tech companies as they forge the way to a more globally competitive Canada. Through this investment, ventureLAB will expand the services offered at the Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI), a state-of-the-art lab and accelerator that is helping hardware technology companies grow and scale up to become globally competitive.

instagram Minister Tassi kicked off 2024 with a busy few days across southern Ontario, making investments in the region, meeting with stakeholders and seeing cutting edge innovation.

linkedin Aero+B2BeeMatch is partnering with McMaster University to launch an innovative training initiative through the McMaster AeroSkills Upskilling Project!

Join us as we blast off to new heights of leadership and management in Aerospace! Let industry experts teach you how to take off in the field. Virtual sessions available February 20 & March 19, 20, and 21. Register now. Eligible learners who are employed at SMEs that support the Southern Ontario Aerospace industry can receive a 90% tuition subsidy. This project is funded by the Government of Canada through FedDev Ontario.

facebook Together with FedDev Ontario and the Government of Canada

NCFDC's #thriveFORWARD initiative backed innovative start-ups and SMEs across southwestern Ontario, driving jobs and growth in critical sectors of the economy.

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Upcoming events

February 1

Black Entrepreneurship Alliance Investment Bootcamp – Demo Day and Pitch Competition (Toronto)

Hosted by Black Creek Community Health Centre, the Black Entrepreneurship Alliance (BEA) will host an Investment Bootcamp – Demo and Pitch competition for Black entrepreneurs in the community. Opportunity to speak and network.

February 7

EV Innovation & Technology Conference 2024 (Toronto)

This one-day conference brings together the best and brightest industry leaders who are transforming electric vehicle manufacturing in Canada.

Date: February 8

NGen N3 Summit (Toronto)

A showcase of Canadian innovation in advanced manufacturing in AI, Life Sciences and Biomanufacturing, Cleantech, Automation, and EV Value Chain. The N3Summit brings together thought leaders from across Canada to explore advanced manufacturing trends. Speakers will cover current economic trends and strategic opportunities for manufacturing and technology companies.
The event comprises a show floor with approx. 100 companies and complementary panels showcasing NGen projects.

View more events

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