thriveFORWARD Sub-Regional Highlights Part 2: Southwestern Ontario Innovation
VENTURE13, COBOURG, ONTARIO, November 29, 2023—With the support of FedDev Ontario and the Government of Canada’s Jobs and Growth Fund, NCFDC’s thriveFORWARD initiative backs entrepreneurs and industrial firms across all of southern Ontario in their leading efforts to innovate, expand their business, create jobs and contribute to the inclusive and sustainable industries of our region’s future.
Today we take a moment to showcase investments made in southwestern Ontario (nearly 30% of all thriveFORWARD projects), where a high degree of momentum is apparent across the entire innovation corridor.
- NCFDC has a long track record of advancing pre-commercial tech start-ups in the KW corridor, including University of Waterloo and Velocity companies. Investment in deeptech and cutting edge innovation continues with ENERZA (robotic monitoring of power system infrastructure), enVgo (electric hydrofoil technology), Coastal Carbon (who recently raised a follow-on round of $1.6 million from OSC for their remote monitoring platform for seaweed aquaculture and ocean reforestation) and Hyivy Health (who are revolutionizing women’s pelvic health and also recently raising follow-on investment from FACIT).
- Out of London, Tenomix (also backed by FACIT) is leading cancer pathology innovation, Vessl is pioneering breakthroughs in prosthetics engineering (and currently participating in an international accelerator program) and Parallelz is developing a new computing architecture for mobile app streaming.
- In Windsor-Essex, thriveFORWARD helped to launch Asamaka Industries, a new industrial automation engineering firm, while co-investing in innovation capital with Select Canadian Supplements to establish contract manufacturing systems for the nutraceuticals industry.
- In Halton Region, Sigma HealthTech is optimizing healthcare provider information systems while Jitto is building a just-in-time wholesale ordering platform for SMEs
- In Hamilton, Burlington and metro-adjacent communities thriveFORWARD supported and accelerated digital therapeutics venture launchit DTx, BLH (a wellness start-up with new IP) along with Grain Data Solutions (a start-up that is handling large-scale agricultural data sets for ESG audits).
- In Norwich, thriveFORWARD backed the development and launch of VETSon’s digital healthcare platform for livestock medicine, contributing to digital transformation in the agricultural sector.
- With continued emphasis on the critically important food sector, thriveFORWARD backed Social Sustenance Technology in Niagara, McKay Foods in Brantford in developing a food production microfactory, as well as New Protein International in establishing their hexane-free soy processing capabilities in rural southwestern Ontario—a Canadian first.
While these next gen start-ups are commercializing new and innovative products and services and attracting millions of dollars in follow-on investment, established companies in the region (SMEs) also co-invested in innovation capital:
- With the support of FedDev Ontario through NCFDC’s thriveFORWARD initiative, investments in the strategic agriculture and food production sectors impacted a total of 13 SMEs across southwestern Ontario (National Pasta and Nature’s Mix in Cambridge, Cristofari Farms and Hillside Hothouse in Windsor-Essex, Terra Cotta Foods in Halton, V.D.B. Grains in Perth County, Benco and Sunrise Orchards in Middlesex, Peel Meat Packers in Wellington, Highland Packers and Denninger’s in Hamilton, Parkhill Meats in Elgin and Bench Brewing in Niagara). Whether implementing Industry 4.0/advanced manufacturing process innovations or developing new products, thriveFORWARD brought funding to the table to ensure that these firms would gain the initiative. They are growing competitive advantage, strengthening overall supply chain resilience, building new business opportunities and creating jobs and growth in their communities.
- thriveFORWARD also supported Nicoya Life Sciences in Waterloo in the development of advanced biotech infrastructure for in-house production capacity.
- Romac Industries in Halton introduced digital automation and cobots into their production systems.
- Stevcon Packaging in Grey County developed specialized containers for medical isotopes.
- CapsCanada in Essex implemented real-time process innovations into their strategically important capsule technology production centre, supplying the pharma and supplement industries.
- JGW Machine in Brant introduced cybersecure digital automation capacity for metal fabrication.
Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs (the avant-garde together with the bedrock of our economy) are fueling clean and sustainable growth across critical sectors and value chains. With FedDev Ontario, NCFDC has worked to help trigger those investments in innovation capital at a 5-to-1 clip (the achieved ratio of private sector to government-funded investment) which is a high water mark for reported public sector ROI (return on investment) from NCFDC.
thriveFORWARD (often colloquially referred to as just ‘thrive’) de-risks or augments project and investment scope and accelerates high-potential companies with concurrent support from ecosystem partners.
“NCFDC is dedicated to geographical equity in delivering FedDev Ontario programming, making strategic investments in high-growth and top-performing ventures in southwestern Ontario,” said Wendy Curtis, Executive Director. “From Windsor-Essex to Hamilton to Owen Sound, thriveFORWARD invests in the sustainable and inclusive industries of the future, in jobs and growth, led by a truly exceptional portfolio of innovation-driven enterprise. Together with the Government of Canada, we are proud to contribute to their momentum.
For more information about the thriveFORWARD initiative, please visit the official webpage.
The next installment of this series will focus on innovation in the GTA. You can read the previous installment in this series on thriveFORWARD innovation in eastern Ontario.
And you can catch upcoming episodes of NCFDC’s flagship Frontier Entrepreneurship Podcast with founders from southwestern Ontario-based start-ups like ENERZA and Coastal Carbon coming soon! We’re on Podbean and Spotify.
Marketing & Communications Coordinator – NCFDC
thriveFORWARD SME Testimonials
Gabriel Johnston - President & CEO
Chase Winters - Chief Performance Officer
Greenhouse Juice Company
Mauro Pennacchioli - President
Jas Vanvat, VP, Finance
Jane He – CEO and Founder.
“Exciting news! Our company is proud to announce that we have been selected to participate in thriveFORWARD, which will help us accelerate our growth and achieve our business goals. We’re grateful for the support from NCFDC and FedDev Ontario, which is making this opportunity possible."
From the Team at JGW Machine Ltd.
“With the support of FedDev Ontario and the Government of Canada’s Jobs and Growth Fund, NCFDC launched thriveFORWARD to accelerate industrial investment in innovation across southern Ontario. Our smart feeder project was funded in part by thriveFORWARD. A big thank you to this partnership with special mention to Belplas/Movacolor for getting us the equipment needed.
Every job is a self-portrait of the people who do it: autograph your work with excellence.”
From the Team at MasterNet Ltd.
“We are now a major participant in the private label industry in Canada! Before this project, our production capacity was completely dedicated to our own brand. Now we manufacture directly for national supermarket chains as well as co-packing for smaller companies. This would not have been possible without the support of thriveFORWARD.”
Director – Casa Bonita Foods
“Shoutout to NCFDC thriveFORWARD for their support. The work you do fuels the work we do.”
Founder – Carrot Bacon
“Our company was able to accelerate U.S. market expansion thanks to the project funding we received from thriveFORWARD. Our clients expect that we operate at the speed of business, and scaling in large competitive markets demands speed and efficiency. Thanks to thriveFORWARD's funding, we rapidly onboarded new talent, acquired critical resources, and successfully secured business deals with some of the largest enterprise brands on the Fortune 500 list. We are on pace to meet our next milestone of organizational growth and the funding we received from thriveFORWARD was paramount to our corporate expansion.”
Chief Executive Officer - EAIGLE Inc.
thriveFORWARD Start-up Testimonials
Sloane Paul – Founder
ARC Motor Company
Christopher Hakim—Co-Founder & CFO
Select Canadian Supplements
Keepwise Loss Prevention System
William Jones—Founder & CEO
From the Team at OOt
Co-Founder, Magnify Access
– CEO, Tick Stick Corporation
From the Team from CABN.CO
Founder & CEO, CarbonOne
Founder & CEO, Magnestar
“thriveFORWARD was pivotal in allowing us to develop our V1 model prototype and prove the viability of the system. We are very grateful for this opportunity and for the support provided by NCFDC.”
Co-Founder & CEO – Mycro Harvest
“In the past few months, our team has made great leaps forward. We have completed our commercialized product, which will be brought to market soon. We have also made a major rebranding effort by changing our visual identity and logo to create a fresh image for our company. Many thanks to FedDev Ontario and NCFDC thriveFORWARD for supporting us in commercializing our 3D body scanner.”
From the Team at FuturU
“With the support of thriveFORWARD, we are incredibly proud to have developed four products ready for commercialization. All are environmental and wastewater friendly, and help to decontaminate arson dogs, and to eliminate transfer of contaminates to vehicles, fire departments and homes of first responders across North America. Initial market feedback has been incredibly positive.”
K. Dee Howard
Co-Founder & President - Sootsoap
“Funding from thriveFORWARD allowed us to evolve our service using faster and more adaptive AI technology that opened up new markets and achieved 'quick wins' with new business and revenue growth for our company.”
Co-Founder - DEC Data
“We sincerely thank FedDev Ontario and NCFDC for funding our idhubs platform. Your support has been crucial in achieving our goals and bringing our vision to life. thriveFORWARD accelerated our growth and enabled key milestones.”
Founder - idhubs
“Without this thriveFORWARD project we would not have been in a position to organize our manufacturing process and have our product ready for commercialization in this time frame. Thank you.”
VP Operations - Foddr
“We love working with NCFDC and FedDev Ontario through thriveFORWARD. Thank you for your continued guidance and support.”
Founder - Vessl Prosthetics
“We are honored to be one of the startups receiving funding support from NCFDC’s thriveFORWARD initiative. It helped us accomplish a project that is essential for our technology commercialization.”
From the Team at Foqus Technologies
“We’re excited to acknowledge the support of NCFDC’s thriveFORWARD initiative through the FedDev Ontario Jobs and Growth Fund.”
Founder - Hyivy Health
“On behalf of our team at Asamaka Industries, we say thank you to NCFDC and FedDev Ontario, as a beneficiary of the thriveFORWARD project. We're proud to have such an amazing partner who supports our mission to empower both skilled and unskilled individuals with the right knowledge and resources necessary to innovate, automate and improve industrial processes. We look forward to continued partnership in the future.”
Chukwuka Asamaka, M.Eng, P.Eng, PMP
Founder - Asamaka Industries
“The thriveFORWARD grant has been a valuable contribution to our business at this early stage of growth. The funds were a critical resource to help us accelerate building some of the foundational elements of our core vision. We would like to thank NCFDC, FedDev Ontario and the Government of Canada’s Jobs and Growth, for investing in Canada’s innovation and future economy.”
Founder - Brix
“This program was a great experience especially in regard to the mentoring I received on how to market my business and its products.”
Founder - Infer Model
“ThriveFORWARD helped us create our MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and we are now doing customer demos. Awesome initiative. We benefitted a great deal from this program, and I believe the thriveFORWARD team deserves huge credit. Thank you.”
Founder - Cercling
“With the support of this funding, we managed to successfully develop the first iteration of our Quality Management System (QMS) and implemented the e-QMS. This is a significant accomplishment as the completion of the QMS allows us to move forward with the preparation of the regulatory submission. Most importantly, all of our employees got involved in the development process to strengthen quality control and management competencies.”
Founder - Foqus Technologies
“We were able to secure a multi-year contract with the Department of National Defense to continue developing the technology from this project. We couldn't have got here without thriveFORWARD. Thank you!”
Founder - Rubicon
“My sincere appreciation goes out to all of you at thriveFORWARD for your support and help.”
Founder - Deaf AI
“Our thriveFORWARD project results in Canada’s first hexane-free soy protein pilot plant and is a key piece of infrastructure to enable future collaboration with other oilseed protein companies within Canada.”
CDO - New Protein International
“Great level of support from thriveFORWARD. Seamless and streamlined process with excellent communication and service along the way. Would recommend this funding stream to other entrepreneurs starting up that need that extra boost.”
Founder – Wild Lot
“We wanted to thank NCFDC and FedDev Ontario for their support as we scale up to change the way healthcare communicates in Ontario.”
Dr. Duncan Rozario
CMO – Sigma Healthtech
“The support that we received from thriveFORWARD was a game-changer for our cyber security startup. Your onboarding process was surgical and rapid with constructive criticism that sharpened our objectives. The support allowed us to take calculated risks and invest more resources into our commercialization efforts, accelerating our path to market and ultimately enabling us to better protect our SMB clients from the ever-evolving threats in the digital landscape.”
Founder – ICEBERG Cyber
Episode 10 of Season 1 brings you to the intersection of seaweed and artificial intelligence with Thomas Storwick, Co-Founder of Coastal Carbon. Thomas’ start-up is a southern Ontario-based innovation-driven enterprise supporting next generation sustainable aquaculture and marine ecosystem restoration.
Episode 9 of Season 1 brings you to the frontier of medtech and digital health with William Jones, Founder & CEO of Leynek Medical. Leynek Medical is a southern Ontario-based start-up developing innovation-driven solutions in cancer oncology and patient care.
Start-ups working on solutions for policetech, community innovation and first responders got a boost from NCFDC’s thriveFORWARD initiative, with the support of FedDev Ontario and the Government Canada’s Jobs and Growth Fund (JGF). Three southern Ontario ventures are helping to ensure the operational efficiency, excellence and effectiveness of police services and allied organizations through their innovative technologies.