thriveFORWARD Sub-Regional Highlights Part 2: Southwestern Ontario Innovation

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.


Victoria Pichler
Marketing & Communications Coordinator – NCFDC

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