Southern Ontario Spotlight

Southern Ontario Spotlight

February 2024

FedDev Ontario's focus on economic development

In celebration of Black History Month, this issue of the Southern Ontario Spotlight highlights a number of Black entrepreneurs and Black-led businesses in southern Ontario.

Making headlines

Celebrating Black entrepreneurs and businesses

Photograph courtesy of Marvin Morgan

In February, Canadians honoured the legacy of Black people across the country through participation in Black History Month events and activities. This year's theme, "Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build" celebrates the rich past and present contributions and accomplishments of Black people in Canada, while aspiring to embrace new opportunities for the future. FedDev Ontario was proud to participate in several southern Ontario events celebrating the success of Black entrepreneurs and businesses in the region.

The Black Entrepreneurship Alliance (BEA) is a collaboration between Toronto's Black Creek Community Health Centre (BCCHC) and key partners including York University's YSpace, TD Community Engagement Centre and Schulich Executive Education Centre. The BEA held its Investment Bootcamp Demo Day in Toronto on February 1, showcasing entrepreneurs from its four-month Bootcamp that equips early-stage, Black-led startups with the training, mentorship and fundraising insights to secure early capital. Nine participating entrepreneurs pitched their startups to a panel of judges for a chance to win $10,000. Minister Tassi delivered the keynote address, speaking about the important work these founders are doing.

"Black Creek Community Health Centre acknowledges the investments made by FedDev Ontario to support the promising and innovative ventures of young Black Canadians that will ultimately address the disparities that impact the health of our communities."

– Cheryl Prescod, Executive Director, Black Creek Community Health Centre.

Yemi Ifegbuyi, Zainab Williams, and Joshua Benjamin were among the top Black entrepreneurs awarded at the event. Ifegbuyi was chosen as first place winner and will receive $5,000 towards his business, Cozii Technologies, an AI-driven property management platform tailored for multi-unit landlords. Second place winner Williams, founder of Fundevolve Inc, a pioneering platform dedicated to empowering women in their financial journeys, will receive $3,000 to further her company. Third place winner Benjamin, co-founder of Synoptech, an innovative point-of-care device designed for at-home health monitoring, will receive $2,000 to assist in scaling his business. In a private event held before the awards, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister Tassi met with the nine competitors and learned more about their businesses.

The BEA is supported by a $3-million Government of Canada investment through the Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP) Ecosystem Fund, delivered by FedDev Ontario.

Later in the month Minister Tassi attended a roundtable discussion with youth entrepreneurs and young professionals at Tropicana Community Services, a non-profit community organization with a mission to serve disadvantaged youth from the Caribbean and Black communities. The discussion was focused on business development, entrepreneurial ventures and barriers to success, and raising awareness of FedDev Ontario programming. Minister Tassi heard input on how government can work with youth entrepreneurs and professionals to further support their long-term economic vision, and how we can collectively ensure a more diverse, equitable and inclusive economy for underrepresented groups within southern Ontario.

Fanshawe College celebrates grand opening of Innovation Village

In January, Fanshawe College celebrated the opening of Innovation Village, a 95,000-square foot facility centred around collaboration and experimentation. Students will have hands-on engagement with the technology and have opportunities to collaborate with industry leaders in the food manufacturing and digital technology sectors.

Highlights of the facility include Indigenous-inspired design elements including the Kalihwíy̲o̲ Circle, a central location for Indigenous students and communities to engage in research, innovation, experiential and digital learning; a lab focused on integrating extended reality (XR) applications in education; and concert, event and retail spaces.

"London has long been a centre of innovation and our government is pleased to support London's leaders in the food manufacturing and digital technologies sectors. The opening of the Innovation Village will enable Fanshawe College to provide exceptional learning opportunities using cutting-edge equipment. This investment will position Fanshawe graduates for success."

-The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

In 2020, Fanshawe College received a $3-million non-repayable FedDev Ontario contribution towards the development of Innovation Village.

Government of Canada supports women-led manufacturer of modular buildings for healthcare sector

The Government of Canada is prioritizing investments in local manufacturers that are creating innovative solutions to support our most critical sectors, including healthcare and housing. FedDev Ontario announced an investment of over $3.5-million towards the growth of Fero International Inc., a woman-led manufacturing company in Stoney Creek that provides cost-effective and rapidly deployable modular solutions for the healthcare, housing, long-term care and educational sectors. With this support, Fero will increase its in-house manufacturing capabilities to grow production of its modular buildings, used as labs, outpatient clinics, operating rooms, long-term care centres, and healthcare-related housing to help meet the additional space demands outside of hospital settings. These quick and sustainable alternatives to brick-and-mortar medical infrastructure will reduce delivery times and support vulnerable populations in Canada and abroad, and the project will also boost local supply chains and create 50 skilled jobs in the region.

"We are extremely grateful to the Government of Canada for both investing in Fero and believing in a new Canadian innovator. The investment is giving Fero the ability to scale its business and operate in the largest modular manufacturing plant in Canada, where it develops cutting-edge modular infrastructure solutions. We look forward to working with the government to help them achieve their ambitious goals of finding fast and innovative solutions to varying infrastructure crises."

– Sabrina Fiorellino, Chief Executive Officer, Fero International Inc.

Government of Canada support for Indigenous entrepreneurs

The Government of Canada is committed to strengthening relationships with Indigenous communities, advancing economic reconciliation and fostering an environment where people can reach their potential and create new possibilities.

Parliamentary Secretary Bryan May, on behalf of Minister Tassi, announced an investment of over $5.4 million for five Indigenous-led organizations: Curve Lake First Nation, Indigenous Experiences Mādahòkì Farm, Tecumseh Community Development Corporation, Two Rivers Community Development Centre, and Grand River Modular.

These investments will contribute to improving food security, advancing Indigenous tourism, promoting skills development for youth and improving access to attainable housing, addition to supporting the creation of more than 130 new jobs.

The announcement was made at Two Rivers Community Development Centre (CDC), a not-for-profit organization that provides economic development and business supports to the Six Nations of the Grand River and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. With an investment of over $920,000, the Two Rivers CDC will work to support business development training for Indigenous youth and communities, giving participants access to workshops, a youth entrepreneurship program, and events to promote Indigenous entrepreneurship and businesses. This project will support the creation of 60 jobs.

FedDev Ontario supports three food manufacturing companies

Ontario's food and beverage manufacturing sector is the third largest in North America with annual revenues of more than $48 billion and employing more than 104,000 people. As a result, FedDev Ontario has invested nearly $2.4 million in the growth of three southern Ontario food manufacturing companies: Coco Bakery, Metzger Meats and Al-Shamas Food Products, to help them adopt new equipment, increase their manufacturing capacity and create 56 jobs across southern Ontario.

Government of Canada invests in automobility innovation

At the Canadian International AutoShow, Minister Tassi announced an investment of up to $8 million for the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI), through the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN), to establish two live testing sites to support the development of new transportation technologies and innovations in southern Ontario. With one location in Toronto focusing on urban transportation and the other in Windsor/Sarnia focused on cross-border and multi-modal scenarios, these Pilot Zones will act as a launch pad for over 40 SMEs within the Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEV) and Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) sectors. This project will create and maintain 345 jobs and contribute to Canada's goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 through the deployment of cleaner and more efficient technologies.

"The Government of Canada's investment marks a significant milestone in advancing clean automobility innovation in southern Ontario. With the establishment of world-class testing sites through the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network, we are thrilled to support more than 40 companies to pilot cutting-edge electric, as well as connected and autonomous vehicle technologies. This initiative not only drives economic growth but also accelerates our progress toward a more sustainable future for all Canadians."

– Claudia Krywiak, President and CEO, Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI).

While at the AutoShow, Minister Tassi and Vance Badawey, Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Transport, had the opportunity to view up-and-coming EV technologies at Electric City, meet with companies supported by OVIN, and test drive the future of mobility in an EV vehicle on the AutoShow test track. They also visited Arc Motor Company, a green tech startup focused on converting classic cars to electric vehicles, meeting with Sloane Paul, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, and Tom Chep, Chief Operating Officer, and viewing the company's innovative electric 1974 Ford Bronco.

Support for southern Ontario's quantum technology sector

Quantum technology is at the leading edge of science and innovation and will have a transformative impact on key sectors such as computing, communications, security, health care and automotive. The Government of Canada is making strategic investments to help entrepreneurs grow quantum-ready technologies and solidify Canada's global leadership in this area.

FedDev Ontario recently announced an investment of over $17.2 million through the Regional Quantum Initiative for 12 innovative companies within southern Ontario's quantum sector to advance and commercialize their products and solutions for domestic and global markets, and support up to 150 jobs. This investment is an important step in advancing the Government of Canada's National Quantum Strategy. The announcement was made at Waterloo-based High Q Technologies Inc, a women-led life sciences technology company that uses quantum-enabled systems to solve complex problems in protein dynamics, that is receiving $3.75-million to support product enhancements to launch their technology into the biopharmaceutical market.

"The Government of Canada has demonstrated a strong commitment to the health sciences and biotechnology sectors by supporting both research and development as well as commercialization of new ideas that translate into impactful solutions in these critical fields. This recent investment will support further developments in our quantum-enabled EPR systems, which will empower scientists to pioneer breakthroughs in disease treatment and drug development."

– Wendy Hinchey, CEO, High Q Technologies Inc.

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FedDev Ontario recipient news and updates

Black Entrepreneurship Alliance supports aspiring Black businesses

Photograph courtesy of Marvin Morgan

Black business owners and entrepreneurs make invaluable contributions to communities across southern Ontario, and their success is integral to Canada's future economic prosperity. FedDev Ontario is committed to ensuring that everyone has equal access to success through targeted programming and tangible investments in Black community organizations to inspire entrepreneurship, innovation and business growth.

The Black Creek Community Health Centre, a Black-led, not-for-profit organization that delivers comprehensive healthcare services and programs to Toronto's Black Community, received $3 million under the Black Entrepreneurship Program to establish the Black Entrepreneurship Alliance (BEA) in collaboration with York University, YSpace, TD Community Engagement Centre and Schulich Executive Education Centre. Through the BEA program, Mehetta Bammies, a food producer of Jamaican style bammies (plant-based flatbreads made from cassava) made from clean and nourishing ingredients, was able to work with program experts to connect with distributors, update its packaging to comply with regulatory requirements, and develop pricing and channel distribution strategies through market research.

For more information on Black Creek Health Centre and the BEA, read FedDev Ontario's success story.

Downtown Guelph shines a light on Black History Month

The City of Guelph, in partnership with the Guelph Black Heritage Society (GBHS) and the Downtown Guelph Business Association, unveiled the Illuminate Downtown Guelph project in celebration of Black History Month. Nine buildings in the downtown core were lit with the colours red, gold and green to represent the African Nova Scotian flag, designed by artist Wendie Wilson and introduced in 2021 to represent the heritage, history and sacrifices made by people of African descent, along with continued cultural richness and growth of future generations. The region has a rich Black history and connection to the East coast, and having the surrounding buildings lit in the colours of the African Nova Scotian flag represents the diversity across communities in Guelph and Wellington County.

In 2021, the Guelph Black Heritage Society received $45,000 from FedDev Ontario to promote its Heritage Hall as a culturally and historically significant, inclusive and dynamic tourist destination, and develop educational videos, interactive guides and programming and events that share and celebrate untold stories of Guelph-Wellington's Black community.

CCAWR's LiftOff program graduate completes first prototype

The Caribbean Canadian Association of Waterloo Region (CCAWR) established the LiftOff accelerator program in 2021 with the goal of supporting Black entrepreneurs from the earliest stages of starting a business to innovating, growing, and scaling an existing business.

LiftOff program graduate Aramide Taiwo recently unveiled her company Tileyi Brands' first product prototype, which the company describes as "multiethnic meat products for diverse customers using circular principles and traditional techniques" through a process of upcycling food waste products using circular economy principles. Taiwo also had the opportunity to showcase the business and prototype to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his recent visit to Waterloo Region.

CCAWR's LiftOff accelerator is supported by a 2021 FedDev Ontario investment of close to $3 million, delivered through the Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP) Ecosystem Fund.

Boundless Accelerator alumni partners with major auto parts manufacturer on innovative EV solution

Photo courtesy of Robert Okine

Oakville-based Betterfrost, a technology company specializing in low-energy automotive defrost solutions, announced a partnership with mobility supplier Denso to develop novel technology that will optimize energy efficiency and extend the range of electric vehicles in cold weather.

Betterfrost is an alumni of the Boundless Accelerator (formerly Innovation Guelph), a FedDev Ontario-supported accelerator focused on innovative and sustainable ventures.

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Social media highlights

linkedin Congratulations to Little Jamaica and the Black Business & Professional Association (BBPA) for their incredible work, resilience and continued success!

FedDev Ontario is proud to support Black- and Caribbean-owned businesses in Toronto's Little Jamaica, in collaboration with the Black Business & Professional Association (BBPA), to help local businesses scale and grow while revitalizing the vibrant neighborhood. #BlackHistoryMonth

facebook Businesses and organizations across southern Ontario can now apply to My Main Street! With a $15-million FedDev Ontario investment, Canadian Urban Institute's, My Main Street is delivering support through two funding streams:

The Business Sustainability stream will support brick-and-mortar businesses located on main streets across southern Ontario with up to $20,000 in funding to support productivity enhancements to strengthen existing capacity and support growth.

The Community Activator stream will support community not-for-profit projects focused on high impact placemaking activities with up to $250,000 in funding for projects such as events and festivals, community enhancements and streetscape improvements.

For more information on how to apply, or to join an upcoming information session, visit My Main Street.

linkedin The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario | Agence fédérale de... announced a total repayable investment of C$17.2 million to help 12 local companies commercialize their quantum products for the domestic and international markets and support 150 jobs.

Among these 12 companies is ventureLAB's Hardware Catalyst Initiative company, Qoherent, demonstrating research projects that span areas such as security, medicine, radio signal sensing, encryption, logistics, finance and more. About Qoherent: Qoherent helps engineers harness the power of machine learning and quantum computing through a platform created to rapidly design, prototype, and deploy machine learning solutions for RF communications design problems. Read more here:

twitter #TBT FedDev Ontario exhibited and co-presented with @FedNor at Indigenous Services Canada's 2023 #ONJointGathering.

Our dedicated team is here to help Indigenous-owned businesses and organizations reach their goals:

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Upcoming events

March 6

Advance: Women in Manufacturing (Online)

This virtual summit will feature experts working to create diverse and inclusive workspaces. Influencers in the Canadian manufacturing sector, as well as women who have trailblazed in their careers will share their experiences and strategies on climbing the career ladder.

March 21-22

AfriCanada Economic Summit 2024 (Toronto)

The 2024 AfriCanada Summit will bring together Canadian and African leaders from the clean energy sector, providing a platform for businesses to connect, share ideas, and build partnerships.

Date: March 26-27

Cix Summit (Toronto)

CIX - Canadian Innovation Exchange is a technology innovation destination where investors, innovative companies, entrepreneurs and facilitators converge to drive economic growth and accelerate the development and implementation of new ideas. The event features a showcase innovative Canadian companies, panel discussions and networking opportunities.

View more events

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