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.

Contact

Victoria Pichler
Marketing & Communications Coordinator – NCFDC
647-570-7851

thriveFORWARD SME Testimonials

“Loon Kombucha is incredibly grateful for the support of this project, which has completely changed our business with elimination of bottlenecks, increased production and sales growth.”


Gabriel Johnston - President & CEO
Loon Kombucha
“Overall, this project has led to a significant reduction in our supply chain risk, allowing us to also source locally wherever possible. We remain competitive and positioned to expand into international markets.”


Chase Winters - Chief Performance Officer
Greenhouse Juice Company
“This project could not of be achieved without thriveFORWARD. We are very grateful to be a recipient—the funding not only enabled us to hire locally but also generated employment throughout the supply chain.”


Mauro Pennacchioli - President
National Pasta
“This project allowed us to implement our new technology which has drastically reduced our production bottleneck. Now installed, we are able to increase production. Without thriveFORWARD funding, this project would have been delayed, but now we have a real opportunity for significant growth in Canada and the USA.”


Jas Vanvat, VP, Finance
Osmow’s Commissary
“A great ally can make all the difference in the world. With thriveFORWARD we were able to revolutionize eSignature usability, translating to a user experience taken to the next level. This achievement represents a critical milestone in Signority’s history, and we’re proud to have created many high-skills jobs in Canada. We’re grateful to the NCFDC team for helping us realize our vision of building a strong Canadian tech company.”


Jane He – CEO and Founder.
Signority

“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.”


Sergio Llerena
Director – Casa Bonita Foods

“Shoutout to NCFDC thriveFORWARD for their support. The work you do fuels the work we do.”


Tyler Steeves
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.”


Amir Hoss
Chief Executive Officer - EAIGLE Inc.

thriveFORWARD Start-up Testimonials

“With FedDev Ontario and thriveFORWARD’s invaluable support, we’ve reached major milestones. Notably, we've successfully registered our provisional patent. thriveFORWARD has been instrumental in propelling our success story and fostering innovation. We look forward to continuing this collaborative journey."


Nader Makarachi—Founder
P2PHub
“NCFDC and FedDev Ontario’s thriveFORWARD played a crucial role in providing funding and establishing a partnership with Bioenterprise Canada. We became a member, unlocking a spectrum of services including being matched with an Innovation Advisor. That led to a deep dive on our start-up, sharing insights on our current company status, upcoming milestones, and discussing the challenges and opportunities ahead. NCFDC also facilitated a valuable connection to a local accelerator (Whitby 1855)."


Karthiga Chandrakumar—Founder
Nirvana Foods
“thriveFORWARD is a great program, helping us to further our R&D and work towards commercialization. It has accelerated our ability to gain vital field and operations experience at a very early stage."


Kien Lamson—Director
Fathom Storage
“The PocketMD team was excited to participate in the thriveFORWARD initiative with the support of NCFDC, FedDev Ontario and the Government of Canada. Thank you for the opportunity to accelerate our development, and for the vote of confidence in our mission and vision."


Jeevan Singh—CEO
PocketMD
“With the support of thriveFORWARD we were able to grow our network of potential partners and investors."


Crystal Kuyumcu—Founder
Exhale Aerosystems
“Thank you for being the very first organization to believe in our mission and company. We are extremely grateful for your support."


Sloane Paul – Founder
ARC Motor Company
“With the assistance of NCFDC and thriveFORWARD, this project has been a great success… we were able to secure strategic equipment, launch a pilot with two customers (one international) and we are generating revenue from these pilots earlier than expected."


Christopher Hakim—Co-Founder & CFO
Select Canadian Supplements
“thriveFORWARD was instrumental in helping our start-up to produce a hardware device through multiple iterations of testing and design. Thank you very much for your support and for the positive feedback that we received in defining the problem and the solution."


Rolinston Rodney—Founder
Keepwise Loss Prevention System
“This project allowed us to triple revenue from our second largest client, and we believe that in 2024 we will at least double revenue from our largest client. Thank you very much for the support."


Svitlana Skrypnyk—CEO
Avail
“We are so thankful for NCFDC’s thriveFORWARD project and for all the support from the team. Without this funding, Leynek Medical would not exist. thriveFORWARD accelerated our growth, helped us bring on an experienced CTO and we built our first hardware/software product. We will always be thankful for this contribution."


William Jones—Founder & CEO
Leynek Medical
“We’re genuinely thankful to thriveFORWARD… because of your help, we have been able to build our platform and start our first pilot programs. Your backing has set all of this in motion, and we’re truly grateful."


From the Team at OOt
“We are truly grateful for the remarkable progress we have made in our thriveFORWARD journey. Thank you to NCFDC and FedDev Ontario for supporting our mission in building a more accessible world."


Keri Banka
Co-Founder, Magnify Access
“We started out with a vision to create a new category and we were able to design, build and prototype—a major win from the thriveFORWARD program."


Kevin Delano
– CEO, Tick Stick Corporation
“We are appreciative of the opportunity to work together with FedDev Ontario and NCFDC. Our thriveFORWARD project has been a very exciting one—an important showcase for the future of housing—and we continue to receive much positive feedback."


From the Team from CABN.CO
“thriveFORWARD played a critical role in the development of our Minimum Viable Product (MVP). With the MVP completed we were able to launch our Pilot Program with six Canadian food companies, putting us into revenue mode and opening up a number of doors to support our growth moving forward. We are genuinely grateful for the support of NCFDC and FedDev Ontario at such a critical point in our journey."


Brett Wills
Founder & CEO, CarbonOne
“Funds from thriveFORWARD were instrumental in developing and commercializing our gas metering tech, and customers who have deployed our solution on site have committed to further collaboration. Furthermore, this project also unlocked a new business avenue through the discovery of a novel application of our technology.


Michael Skirzynski
CEO, Fractalytic
“We are incredibly fortunate to be recipients of thriveFORWARD funding. We were able to make our dream into a reality and the timing was perfect with global developments in AI.”


Mallory Maynard
Founder, Gibbly
“thriveFORWARD enabled us to prepare a demonstration for a local utility company after accelerating critical high-voltage testing, positioning us for our next fundraising round, which this project also enabled.”


James Aein
CEO, ENERZA
“We've learned a lot through this process, through many iterations of our prototype, and we've found amazing partners to work with going forward. We are thrilled with the outcome, the finished product and being given the thriveFORWARD grant to help offset the start‐up costs of our new product line.”


Yasemin Emory
Co-Founder, Jems
“thriveFORWARD funding was greatly appreciated. It helped to accelerate our growth, to launch and successfully demonstrate our product with potential customers.”


Jacqueline Good
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.”


Christopher Klich
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.”


Lisa Ferrie
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.”


Rojit Sorokhaibam
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.”


Jamie Tyrell
VP Operations - Foddr

“We love working with NCFDC and FedDev Ontario through thriveFORWARD. Thank you for your continued guidance and support.”


Sydney Robinson
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.”


Rachel Bartholomew
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.”


Emad Toukan
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.”


Gabriel Langlois-Rahme
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.”


Gari Boateng
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.”


Sadegh Raeisi
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!”


Daniyar Akhmedjanov
Founder - Rubicon

“My sincere appreciation goes out to all of you at thriveFORWARD for your support and help.”


Mehdi Masoumi
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.”


Graham Markham
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.”


Ryan Fowler
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.”


Michael Bakaic
Founder – ICEBERG Cyber

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