New hardware incubator and lab opens in York Region

  • Recipient: ventureLAB – Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI)
  • Region: York Region
  • Stream: Regional Innovation Ecosystem
  • Total funding allocated: $5 million
Cyberworks Robotics is a ventureLAB tenant that is leading a new wave of innovations in autonomous navigation, both in guidance systems with low-cost high-resolution 3D machine vision and in AI-based path planning.

We are extremely excited to be launching the Hardware Catalyst Initiative in York Region. FedDev Ontario's support signals the importance of investing in hardware and silicon technologies. We are delighted for the Government of Canada investment through FedDev Ontario in the Hardware Catalyst Initiative. This investment is an indication that southern Ontario's deep tech sector continues to thrive, and is a region where scaling and established technology companies flourish.

Melissa Chee,
President and CEO, ventureLAB

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Southern Ontario continues to increase its foothold as a competitive technology cluster with a booming innovation corridor that spans Waterloo to Toronto to Ottawa. As part of this growing hub, York Region's ventureLAB has launched the Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI) to help spur the global adoption of Canadian-made hardware and silicon technologies; namely the technologies that form the foundation for artificial intelligence, machine learning and quantum computing.

The first lab and incubator of its kind in Canada, HCI is the result of consultations with industry and not-for-profit partners that identified common barriers to success for growing tech companies, including lack of access to expensive tools, resources and production spaces, as well as a significant mentorship and talent gap.

HCI supports start-ups and SMEs in the hardware and silicon tech sphere to design, prototype and produce innovative new technologies such as chips, circuits or logic boards for use in smartphones, autonomous vehicles, health-care devices and other innovations.

"Hardware companies typically face lengthy and expensive commercialization times," says Melissa Chee, President and CEO, ventureLAB. "HCI will allow southern Ontario-based companies to accelerate their time to market, enabling the creation of foundational technologies that will be the backbone of transformative products and solutions."

Located in York Region, Canada's second-largest tech cluster, HCI is leveraging the region's expertise and support from global technology leaders and up-and-comers such as AMD, Synopsys and Microart.

HCI will offer participants 24/7 access to a state-of-the-art lab and face time with a dedicated advisory team of industry experts. With direct access to tools to develop their hardware and technology platforms, these promising tech companies will have the support they need to grow and scale locally and be ready to compete globally, sooner. The inaugural cohort of HCI participants will begin their training in January 2020, and ventureLAB intends to support five to 10 companies each year through this initiative.

Through this project, 40 companies will be supported to commercialize 15 new technologies, which will create over 200 new, highly skilled jobs over five years.

ventureLAB's core facilities in Markham provide a 50,000-square-foot innovation hub for over 45 tech companies and innovation partners employing more than 300 people. Since 2011, more than 2,000 tech entrepreneurs and small- and medium-sized enterprises have been supported to generate over $100 million in public and private investments, and create more than 3,500 jobs.

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