Southern Ontario Spotlight - December 2020

Southern Ontario Spotlight




The Government of Canada supports inclusive growth

The Government of Canada supports inclusive growth

Increasing the representation and inclusion of underrepresented groups is essential to Canada’s prosperity.

On November 23, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, announced that applications are now being accepted for the Black Entrepreneurship Program’s National Ecosystem Fund and Knowledge Hub. The National Ecosystem Fund will provide funding to Black-led not-for-profit business organizations to strengthen their capacity to provide support, financial planning services and business training for Black entrepreneurs and business owners. The Knowledge Hub will gather data on Black entrepreneurship in Canada to help identify critical gaps, barriers to success and opportunities for growth. The National Ecosystem Fund will be administered by the regional development agencies, with FedDev Ontario supporting southern Ontario candidates throughout the proposal development process. For more information or to apply, visit the Black Entrepreneurship Program webpage.

Earlier in the month, Arif Virani, Member of Parliament for Parkdale–High Park, on behalf of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario Mélanie Joly, announced an investment of $750,000 for Parkdale Centre for Innovation, a not-for-profit incubator and accelerator focused on inclusion and equity, to expand its entrepreneurship programming. Over 200 businesses will have access to increased specialized training, mentorship, peer support networks and pathways to entrepreneurial opportunities.

The Government of Canada also continues to encourage inclusive growth through the 50-30 challenge. A joint initiative between the Government of Canada, business, and diversity organizations, this challenge seeks to improve access for racialized persons, people who identify as LGBTQ2, people living with disabilities, as well as First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, to positions of influence and leadership on corporate boards and in senior management.

FedDev Ontario is pleased to share that many of the businesses and ecosystem partners we have supported have signed the pledge, including funding recipient Reko International Group Inc. Diane Reko, CEO of the Lakeshore-based manufacturer, took over the family business in 2007, building on the strong leadership of her father who started the company in 1976. As one of few female CEOs in a male-dominated sector, Diane considers the team she has built as one of her greatest achievements. The Reko team is comprised of several women, specifically on the Executive Leadership Team. The goal is to create an inclusive workplace, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, etc. Diane prides herself on a culture that embraces innovation, and she and her team of 200 strive to strengthen communities by advancing manufacturing. As the company embarks on the 50-30 challenge, its priorities will be to increase corporate diversity at all levels within Reko including skilled trades, leadership and senior management.

"We have appreciated the value of diversity at Reko for many years. The 50-30 challenge is a great way to highlight our progress so far and to encourage us to achieve more!” – Diane Reko, CEO, Reko International Group Inc.

The Government of Canada has long-supported the advancement and representation of women in business. As announced in the Fall Economic Statement, the government is proposing to create an Action Plan for Women in the Economy to help more women get back into the workforce and to ensure a feminist, intersectional response to this pandemic and recovery.

Parliamentary Secretary Kate Young hears firsthand about the impact of investments in Bruce Grey Simcoe

Parliamentary Secretary Kate Young hears firsthand about the impact of investments in Bruce Grey Simcoe

Since the launch of the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) in May, FedDev Ontario has provided critical support for thousands of southern Ontario businesses and other organizations, helping them continue operations, protect jobs, cover fixed costs and play a role in our economic recovery.

On November 27, Parliamentary Secretary Kate Young announced that over 275 businesses and organizations across the Bruce Grey Simcoe region are receiving over $10 million in combined RRRF funding, protecting nearly 1,200 jobs in the region. As part of the virtual announcement, Parliamentary Secretary Young heard firsthand from local business owners about the impact RRRF funding has had on their ability to continue operations.

She also met virtually with employees at Molded Precision Components (MPC). Since the outset of the pandemic, MPC has pivoted its operations to include manufacturing of over 27 million medical face shields for the protection of health-care workers in Canada and abroad, all while supporting youth employment in its rural community of Oro-Medonte. FedDev Ontario’s $2.9-million investment is helping the company expand, implement new technology and create over 30 high-skilled jobs.

Digital Main Street supporting businesses across the province

Digital Main Street supporting businesses across the province

As COVID-19 case numbers rise, businesses continue to struggle with the economic impacts associated with ongoing restrictions and adapting to new ways of doing business. The Digital Main Street program continues to be a source of hope for many entrepreneurs.

As part of Parliamentary Secretary Young’s visit to the area, she had the chance to meet virtually with Digital Main Street partners, recipients and students in the Bruce Grey Simcoe region to hear about their experiences with the program. Business owners shared how the vital support received has helped them regain lost revenue, strengthened their resilience and opened new opportunities for growth.

For example, The Creemore Refillery offers eco-friendly home and personal care products, providing customers refillable containers for home cleaning and bath and body care products. COVID-19 forced its closure, but a Digital Transformation Grant helped the company improve its social media presence and get e-commerce ready.

Over the past months, thousands of businesses have successfully pivoted operations and achieved digital transformation through participation in Digital Main Street, and with RRRF support from FedDev Ontario, more and more businesses are finding new opportunities through digitization.

Toronto-based Manis Cosmetic Consulting, a medical spa, was forced to close its doors in the wake of COVID-19. Connecting with a Digital Service Squad and using Digital Main Street resources, Manis Cosmetic Consulting was able to start an online store. A nurse herself, owner Helen Manis decided to give back to frontline workers by donating 100% of the revenue from their initial digital launch to provide 1,000 PPE masks to frontline hospital workers. “My primary goal is to give back to society in a way that I can as a nurse,” says Manis. “That right away engaged our patients who thought, okay, you know what? Now I can order products online and this is going to charity.”

Last month, Digital Main Street announced a lab project with Sociavore, an e-commerce platform for restaurants and food and beverage businesses. This pilot project will help restaurants fulfill online orders without having to pay costly commission fees to third-party delivery services, and help them access new markets.

Small businesses in our communities still need support. With the holidays upon us, now is a great time to show our support for local businesses by shopping local. Many businesses now offer online stores, curbside pickup, or safe in-store shopping. Throughout the month, Minister Joly and FedDev Ontario will be profiling some small businesses across Canada. We invite you to join the #ShopLocal movement and to share our social media content or showcase some of your favourite businesses using #ShopLocal and #SupportLocal.  

Support for rural businesses

Support for rural businesses

As we navigate the impacts of the pandemic, there is a crucial need for targeted investments in small businesses to help them stay afloat. The region’s Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) are making a difference as key partners for FedDev Ontario in delivering the Community Futures Program and the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF). Since the RRRF was launched in May, over 1,000 businesses have received RRRF support through their local CFDCs. This support has maintained over 3,500 jobs in the region and means that more rural businesses can keep their employees, cover costs and contribute to economic recovery.

For business owners like Katie Heath, the local impacts of the CFDCs’ work has been invaluable. Katie is co-owner of Prince Edward County’s Crimson Cider. Shortly after she had finished building a new production facility for her craft cider company, the pandemic struck and put her business at risk. Crimson Cider received RRRF support just in time from the Prince Edward, Lennox & Addington CFDC, which helped her to pay the bills and pivot to online marketing and digital sales channels. With this investment and a diversified business model, Crimson Cider has doubled its revenues, and created six jobs.

The region’s CFDCs recently announced they will deliver $30 million of FedDev Ontario’s additional RRRF funding to businesses in rural communities across southern Ontario, and continue providing the support that will help business owners like Katie not only stay in business, but transform for a more resilient future.

Government of Canada’s Fall Economic Statement highlights importance of regional support

Government of Canada’s Fall Economic Statement highlights importance of regional support

On November 30, the Government of Canada released Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19: Fall Economic Statement 2020. This plan sets out proposed measures and investments to continue to protect Canadians’ health, jobs and the economy.

The FES highlighted the success of the RRRF, delivered by Canada’s regional development agencies, noting it has protected over 100,000 jobs and supported over nearly 15,000 businesses, including over 8,500 clients in rural areas and over 5,000 women-owned businesses. To ensure the RRRF can continue to support small businesses unable to access other federal relief measures, including the newly-announced Canada Emergency Business Account loan limit increases, the FES is proposing a top-up of up to $500 million to RDAs and the Community Futures Network of Canada, bringing total funding to over $2 billion in this fund. Twenty-five percent of the Fund would be earmarked to provide targeted support to local tourism businesses.

The FES also proposed a number of other measures to continue to support businesses through the pandemic:

  • A $206 million investment over two years, starting in 2020-21, to the regional development agencies for a new Regional Air Transportation initiative.
  • A new Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program would provide government-guaranteed financing and low-interest loans for hardest hit businesses, including those in sectors like tourism and hospitality, hotels, arts and entertainment.
  • Extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for an additional four weeks,
  • Increasing the maximum Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy rate to 75 per cent for the period beginning December 20, 2020, and extending this rate until March 13, 2021.
  • Extending the 25 percent top-up to the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy until March 13, 2021.

As measures are subject to Parliamentary approval, more information will be shared once available.

FedDev Ontario is committed to supporting southern Ontario businesses as we navigate the pandemic and prepare for a stable, successful future.  For more information on FedDev Ontario and the RRRF, visit our website.



Supporting technological advancements in the GTA
Supporting technological advancements in the GTA

Supporting technological advancements in the GTA

Technology is key to developing new products and business processes across all sectors. FedDev Ontario continues to make targeted investments to support businesses to create skilled jobs and revolutionize their processes to stay on the cutting edge as they seek opportunities for recovery in the face of COVID-19.

Last month, a FedDev Ontario investment of $1 million was announced to support the scale-up of Advanced Opto-Mechanical Systems and Technologies Inc., a leading environmental remediation technology company based in Toronto, as it prepares for the expansion of its patented fiber-optic and digital internet of things (IoT) platforms. This will help the company access new markets, including the construction sector, with the vision of making smart construction sites a new reality.

Earlier in the month, a FedDev Ontario investment of $2.5 million was announced to support the scale-up of Woodlore International Inc. (Woodlore), a family-owned manufacturer of commercial grade office furniture and storage units for the healthcare, education and hospitality sectors. Through this expansion project, Woodlore will adopt a state-of-the-art automated furniture panel production line—the first-of- its-kind in Ontario—to increase capacity by nearly 50 percent and will reduce raw material scraps to 13 percent, supporting its competitive sustainability efforts to divert waste from landfills.

Collaboration is key to made-in-Canada healthcare advancements
Collaboration is key to made-in-Canada healthcare advancements

Collaboration is key to made-in-Canada healthcare advancements

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of homegrown healthcare technology solutions. Healthcare advancements are not only critical to the well-being of Canadians, but they are also important drivers of economic growth and stability. Through the pandemic and beyond, collaboration and innovation are key to creating new and effective solutions.

Toronto-based Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM), an accelerator that develops and commercializes cell and gene therapies and regenerative medicine technologies, understands the vital importance of collaboration, and has built its business model around it. CCRM initially started by building a consortium of academic partners and accessing their intellectual property, eventually building an industry consortium of over 100 companies from around the world. On November 12, CCRM and McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) announced their plans to partner in the development of a biomanufacturing campus at MIP focused on regenerative medicine-based technologies and cell and gene therapies. The envisioned facility will enable CCRM to scale its operations and provide critical space, services and support to cell and gene therapy focused ventures from across Canada and the world.

Biotechnology company Cyclica, who advance molecules to embrace the complexity of disease, recently licenced Excelra’s Global Online Structure Activity Relationship Database (GOSTAR) to complement its novel compound drug discovery operations. GOSTAR is the largest online structure activity relationship database comprising of over 5.5 million small molecules and their associated chemical, biological and pharmacological properties.  This collaboration and the extensive data available from GOSTAR will aid in the development of more effective medicines for patients in need. For more information on Cyclica’s innovative drug discovery platform, click here.

Palette and the University of Toronto announce new partnership to drive reskilling of Canadian workers
Palette and the University of Toronto announce new partnership to drive reskilling of Canadian workers

Palette and the University of Toronto announce new partnership to drive reskilling of Canadian workers


Palette Skills Inc., a not-for-profit dedicated to helping Canada’s most innovative companies find the talent they need to grow by upskilling diverse and non-traditional workers, recently announced a partnership with The University of Toronto (U of T). The partnership will explore new strategies and solutions to equip workers for success in Canada’s rapidly changing economy.

Drawing on the university’s relationships and increasing insights and knowledge around the demands of the workplace and the future of work, the partnership will also support Palette’s mission of creating a Canadian workforce where workers have the skills they need to thrive, and companies can easily find people with the right skills and experience to grow and succeed.

“The pandemic has been devastating,” said Melanie Woodin, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science at U of T, and Palette’s newest board member. “This collaboration enables our leading researchers and scholars to connect with industry leaders and other institutions in the development of the tools, training and support needed to make a direct and lasting impact on the Canadian economy, further improving the lives of Canadians.”

“We fundamentally believe in the limitless capacity of people to adapt to change and learn new skills, provided they are given the right opportunities and support,” said Arvind Gupta, CEO of Palette and a professor in the Department of Computer Science in the Faculty of Arts & Science at U of T. “This partnership will increase our ability to re-engage, retrain and redeploy talent across the economy into stable, high quality jobs in growing industries. A concerted effort to upskill Canadians on a national scale will make our country stronger and more competitive which will, in turn, benefit the global economy.”

Southern Ontario – award-winning innovators
Southern Ontario – award-winning innovators

Southern Ontario – award-winning innovators

Despite a challenging year of unprecedented economic setbacks, a growing list of southern Ontario companies and FedDev Ontario funding recipients are persevering and are topping year-end lists for revenue growth and winning innovation awards.

Intellijoint Surgical and Applyboard, two Waterloo Region tech companies, took the top two spots on Deloitte’s 2020 Technology Fast 50 list. Medical technology firm Intellijoint Surgical reported 19,311 percent revenue growth to top this year's list, and ApplyBoard, which offers a platform making international student applications easier, saw its revenues grow by 12,597 percent. Other FedDev Ontario recipients AlayaCare, Auvik Networks and Daisy Intelligence were also included in the list. Deloitte has also named digital health company InputHealth and hardware developer Voltera as two of Canada's Top 50 Tech Companies to Watch, demonstrating exceptional technology, promising growth and management experience.

Innovation Guelph, an organization offering business acceleration programs designed for high-potential startups, has received the CANIE Enterprise Support of the Year Award presented by Innovators and Entrepreneurs Foundation. The CANIE Awards recognize excellence in Canadian innovation and entrepreneurship to inspire current and aspiring entrepreneurs, and promote social impact among startups and SMEs.

Lastly, a trio from the University of Windsor swept the top individual honours in the first Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association’s Cybersecurity Awards. Professors Mitra Mirhassani and Ikjot Saini, along with recent computer science graduate Noah Campbell, were honoured for their work in hardware security and academic research, and for successful partnerships developed with Blackberry and the APMA, further cementing the Windsor region as an automotive cybersecurity powerhouse.

Congratulations to all the above companies for their resilience and continued success!


LinkedIn Highlights

#ShopLocal and #SupportLocal at the Shaw Festival! The Shaw Festival is bringing holiday cheer to Niagara-on-the-Lake this season with SONGS FOR A WINTERS NIGHT! Grab your mask and reserve a spot online to enjoy a night of your favourite holiday tunes.

A new generation of electric vehicles is in development thanks to a collaboration between Dr. Ali Emadi, McMaster University’s Automotive Resource Centre (MARC) and FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The partnership is creating a new electric vehicle that is more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly, that will also protect automotive manufacturing jobs in North America. The Natural Sciences Engineering Research Council of Canada through the Synergy Award of Innovation has recognized the efforts of this collaboration between the university and Canadian industries. Congratulations! We are proud to support the MARC’s innovation through the Prosperity Initiative.

Communitech is connecting Indigenous youth with experts in the tech industry. Communitech’s new mentorship program, in partnership with Anishnabeg Outreach (AO) and University of Waterloo is helping indigenous youth join the tech industry. The program offers youth one-on-one mentorships with experts in the tech industry and ten hours of training in coding languages, including Python, JavaScript and HTML.

The Trade Commissioners Service CanExport is helping SMEs expand their presence to international markets during COVID-19. SMEs can now access up to $75,000 in funding to expand their ecommerce businesses into global markets.


Upcoming Events

Event September 12

December 14

Data, AI and Corporate Leadership in a Post COVID-19 Economy (Online)

A discussion of Data, AI, and Corporate Leadership in Canada’s post-COVID economy addressing Canada’s role in becoming a world-class leader in innovation in the global economy.


Event September 12

December 15

Building a Better Toronto (Online)

Deputy Mayor of Toronto Michael Thompson and leaders from the City’s Economic and Culture Recovery Advisory Group will be discussing how they have approached rebuilding and revitalizing Toronto since the beginning of the pandemic, and what the priorities will be heading into 2021.

Event September 12

January 7

Annual Economic Outlook 2021 (Online)

A panel of 10 chief economists share their predictions for 2021.


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