Accelerator Centre: New building aims to take tech firms to next level

Tim Ellis sees it every time a startup packs its bags and leaves the business incubator he runs in Waterloo.

The dreaded M-word — moving — keeps him awake at night and messes with his mandate.

His job is to remove barriers for young companies.  But at the point when they’re just starting to take off, moving can be a real momentum-buster, said the chief executive officer of the Accelerator Centre.

Headaches such as finding a new office, setting the terms of the lease and securing enough parking slow down startups at the worst possible time, said Ellis.

“It delays the companies,” he said.  “When they leave here, there is a blip, like a stock chart where things drop. We want to eliminate that.”

Ellis hopes he found the solution to this dilemma in a new building planned for the David Johnston Research & Technology Park, where the Accelerator Centre is located.

The three-storey, 115,000-square-foot building will welcome graduates of the Accelerator Centre program and a mix of other selected tenants, including foreign companies looking to dip a toe in the waters of Waterloo Region.

Many of the graduating companies of the Accelerator Centre, and its offshoots at the Communitech Hub in Kitchener and the Stratford Accelerator Centre, want to replicate the shared environment offered by the program, said Ellis.

The new building will attempt to recreate that ambience of collaboration without most of the mentoring, coaching and other formal programming offered by the Accelerator Centre itself, he said.

Instead of removing grads from the entire tree, “We want to push them out of the nest into a branch of the tree,” Ellis said.

A date has not been set for the start of construction because stakeholders are still deliberating about the right mix of occupants.

The aim is not just to fill up the building with tenants, said Carol Stewart, manager of the research park.

“You can’t just go out and be straight real estate. You have to be laser-focused” on finding the right tenants, she said.

The plan is to have the $30-million building ready for occupancy in 2015, said Adrian Conrad, president of Cora Developments, which will construct the facility.

“We want to make sure we get the right package (of occupants) before we start,” he said.

It will be located at 435 Wes Graham Way on the same roundabout occupied by Sybase and a Cora-owned building housing Agfa Healthcare, Enflick and Cisco Systems.

The new building has tentatively been dubbed the International Business Centre because it will offer Accelerator Centre programming that focuses on helping tenants scale globally, said Ellis.

Current tenants of the Accelerator Centre are too young to expand internationally, but once they leave the nest they could use some assistance and coaching in that regard, he said.

As well, the park occasionally gets inquiries from international companies looking to establish a small presence in the region in the kind of collaborative and flexible setting offered by the Accelerator Centre, said Stewart.

Another tenant in the new building likely will be Capacity Waterloo Region, which helps non-profit organizations find new ways to raise funding and create social enterprises.

Capacity Waterloo Region is housed in the Accelerator Centre building, but is looking to expand as it works on a new concept to support social innovators, said Ellis.

“They love being with the entrepreneurs and they don’t want to change that.”

The innovative “collision” between the profit and non-profit sectors is one of the things that work well in the Accelerator Centre, he said.

The units in the International Building Centre will be larger than those in the Accelerator Centre, but still compact in size at about 1,500 to 7,500 square feet, and will lease for three years or less to give tenants more flexibility, said Ellis.

Leases in privately owned buildings in the region typically start at three years.  The norm is at least five years for an existing building and 10 to 15 years for a new building, said Conrad.

The International Business Centre will be the 10th building to go up in the research park since it was launched 10 years ago as a joint venture by the University of Waterloo, government and the private sector.

Located north of Columbia Street on the north part of the UW campus, the purpose of the 40-hectare park was to attract private tenants looking to capitalize on the university’s top-flight graduates in math, computer science and engineering and to build this area’s knowledge economy.

Other buildings in the park include Sybase, two OpenText facilities, the InnoTech building which is leased to BlackBerry, the Accelerator Building, the TechTown service centre, two research advancement centres owned by UW and a Cora-owned building that houses Agfa and other tenants.

UW owns the land and leases it to private-sector developers such as Cora, which has already erected three buildings in the park.

Besides the International Business Centre, the technology park has room for three more buildings in the first phase of its development, said Stewart.

The smaller phase-two section consists of about 28 hectares between Sybase and Bearinger Road.  The number of buildings to be established there hasn’t been determined yet.

“There’s a whole lot of planning we have to do yet for that,” said Stewart.

One of the objectives of the International Business Centre is to nurture the kind of larger enterprise that will want to occupy future buildings in Johnston Park, said Ellis.

“If we build the right culture in the park, they will want to stay in the park.”

Source:

Jun 08, 2013
ByChuck Howitt

How the founder of Magnet Forensics is helping to grow his start-up and helping to protect the community

Ctl, alt, delete

Magnet Forensics is everything a start-up should be. The company is lean, logs an incredibly strong revenue growth and grows by retaining earnings, not seeking investment. But what makes it stand out is that the company’s technology offers a community service.

Magnet, based in Waterloo, Ont., recovers deleted information from a computer. It’s used to help police find information that a suspect thought had been deleted. This could be communications between people, financial records, or even contraband photos. It’s particularly effective in the fight against child pornography. “We’ve developed forensic software to recover internet-related communications from computers and mobile devises,” says CEO Adam Belsher. “Anything you’re doing on your computer to communicate-uploading pictures, going to chat rooms-there’s a good chance we can find it.”

I met Belsher last month when I was doing a story on the tech community in Kitchener-Waterloo for USA Today, and was amazed by the company. I usually only cover Atlantic Canadian companies, but here is a look at a Canadian company that can serve as a role model for others. And it started out as a free service.

The story began when a 26-year-old police officer called Jad Saliba contracted Hodgkin’s lymphoma and took a leave of absence to recover. When he returned, he was taken away from his beat work to become a digital forensics investigator and thrived at the position. He developed software that could recover deleted material from hard drives, and for two years gave it out free to other police forces.

In 2009, he left the police to launch the company, which was originally called JADsoftware. The company solved an extreme problem in the police department because it reduced the manual work needed in retrieving deleted files and greatly increased the amount of material that could be brought back.

Today, the company’s 1,500 clients include law enforcement agencies in almost 100 countries, such as the FBI and the office of Homeland Security in the U.S. The company’s revenues have increased 1,800% over the past two years and last year it captured the No. 16 spot on Profit magazine’s list of Canada’s fastest-growing companies. Belsher expects to improve on that position this year.

As it outgrows the police business, Magnet Forensics is looking for more corporate clients, and is already making headway in that market. When employees leave a company and sue for wrongful dismissal, they typically leave behind their desktop computer. Magnet’s technology can dig up material that can establish why the employee was let go and help to protect the employer.

Belsher, a former Research in Motion exec, joined the company in September 2011, and continued to grow the company. The company now has 30 employees and he expects to increase the work force in the coming year.

One interesting fact about the company is it has never raised equity investment, which means that it has preserved the founder’s capital and allowed the CEO to focus on the business rather than on fundraising.

Above all, Belsher and his colleagues thrive on knowing that they have helped fight the abuse of children. In the middle of the interview, the CEO whipped out his cell phone to read an email he had received the day before from a police officer in the U.S. who had just prosecuted a pedophile because of evidence retrieved with Magnet’s software. “If we can save just one kid’s life or stop the abuse of a child,” he says. “that’s what makes us tick, really.”

Peter Moreira is the principal of Entrevestor.com, a website with news and analysis on investment and entrepreneurship in Atlantic Canada.

Deep Trekker Inc. featured in "The Wall Street Journal"

Underwater Drones Are Multiplying Fast
Robots Are Invading the Sea for All Kinds of Inspections—With an Eye on Prey

The next army of unmanned drones are scurrying beneath the ocean’s surface.

Hundreds of small camera-equipped robots developed by a range of companies are sending video and other data to laptop and tablet screens above.The next army of unmanned drones are scurrying beneath the ocean’s surface.

What began as a niche industry for wealthy hobbyists has matured into a fast-growing market catering to a wide variety of industries and government agencies.

A VideoRay underwater vehicle equipped with a camera and radiation detector inspects the hull of a ship.

Unmanned marine vehicles have been around for years-the U.S. Navy and the Coast Guard, for example, use them to help detect mines and thwart drug smugglers. Big military contractors such as Boeing Co. BA -1.97% and General Dynamics Corp. GD -1.17% offer torpedo-like underwater vehicles for the military and other government agencies.

Now, a new wave of independent companies are developing cheaper, smaller models-typically the size of a football-meant for commercial and recreational use, from inspecting oil rigs and fish farms to helping hunt for sunken treasure.

But as the industry grows, drone-making companies are also running into hurdles. The companies must figure out how to market these technologies for applications beyond traditional uses, compete with bigger defense contractors, and keep costs low enough to appeal beyond deep-pocketed buyers.

Operating machines underwater is no easy task. Motors sometimes malfunction, causing the robots to sink, or a previously undiscovered crack can cause critical leaks. Last week, a team from Memorial University in Newfoundland lost contact with an autonomous underwater vehicle that looks like a yellow torpedo and was worth about $165,000.

Then there is the prey. Two years ago a shark attacked a sea-gliding robot piloted by Liquid Robotics Inc., causing the device used to collect data for BP BP.LN -1.25% PLC to malfunction. Sam MacDonald, co-founder and president of Ontario company DeepTrekker Inc., said a barracuda “took a quick bite” out of a demo device in Antigua “but decided against making it meal.” The robot survived.

“Because of the dangers of doing things underwater you’re going to see these robots do more practical things,” said Durval Tavares, the chief executive of AquaBotix Technology Corp.

His company sells an underwater remote-operated vehicle, or ROV, called the HydroView, which can be controlled from a laptop or mobile device and cost between $4,000 and $8,000. Mr. Tavares, who started the Fall River, Mass., company in 2011 after 20 years working at the U.S. Navy Laboratories, says he has sold near 200 devices to customers including a Florida police department that used them for underwater inspections.

One of the bigger companies in this field is VideoRay LLC, which sells its ROV to coast guards, the U.S. Corps of Engineers and other commercial and military bodies. The Pottstown, Pa., company’s devices have been used to search for underwater mines, assess hurricane damage and make hull inspections for oil companies.

VideoRay uses specially made software, joysticks or smartphones to pilot its robots. Stripped-down ROVs sell for $7,000, but the versions sold to governments and oil companies are priced around $150,000. Scott Bentley, VideoRay’s co-founder and president, says the 40-employee company sells from 200 to 400 underwater drones a year and makes about $10 million in sales annually.

Both Aquabotix and VideoRay are working on their own version of “automated underwater vehicles,” which don’t require someone remotely controlling them the whole time.

Another sign of popularity in the devices is a growing community of ROV builders who want the technology to be open sourced, available for scientists and explorers who can’t afford more expensive models.

OpenROV sells an underwater ROV kit for $850. Co-founder David Lang said the Berkeley, Calif., company has sold several hundred so far to scientists and hobbyists. The project is “like making a smartphone waterproof and giving it thrusters,” Mr. Lang said.

“We want to be able to have an ROV that is approaching the performance of some of these more expensive commercial ROVs at 1/10th of the cost. “These ROV makers are finding a diverse group of interested customers.

DeepTrekker, which makes an 18-pound ROV starting at $3,000, has sold devices to customers such as Florida Power and Light Co. to examine inside a nuclear reactor and Disney DIS -1.93% World to inspect water filtration systems.

At a recent military trade show in Canada, DeepTrekker’s Ms. MacDonald said several military agencies approached her about the ROV. One agency asked if she could put a weapons deployment system on it. The company is working on that request.

Ms. MacDonald has also had more nefarious-seeming inquiries. One potential customer asked questions about DeepTrekker’s maximum payload and whether the ROV could be operated from 10,000 feet away. Ms. MacDonald suspected they might be drug-runners, but they never made an offer.

Write to Will Connors at william.connors@wsj.com

A version of this article appeared June 25, 2013, on page B4 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Unmanned Drones Take a Dive.

The Accelerator Centre gets support from FedDev Ontario

The Accelerator Centre will provide entrepreneurship training and seed funding to help up to 30 science, technology, engineering, and math entrepreneurs launch new innovative start-up businesses, thanks to a new investment of $945,000 from the Government of Canada. The investment was announced today by Peter Braid, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo, on behalf of the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

“Our Government’s top priority is creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity,” said MP Braid. “This investment will support the Accelerator Centre’s successful model that assists science and technology entrepreneurs in developing their business and management skills and launching promising start-up companies. Helping to bring these innovative ideas to market will benefit Waterloo Region and all of southern Ontario.”

The investment is being provided through FedDev Ontario’s Scientists and Engineers in Business initiative. The Accelerator Centre expects the project will create up to 30 new start-up businesses and 70 to 90 new full-time jobs, and anticipates up to $5 million in private investments could be generated for these new companies through its support. The Accelerator Centre will provide up to $750,000 in seed capital for the businesses.

“For early-stage companies seeking to bring their technologies to market, access to funding and mentorship at this formative stage can be a significant hurdle,” says Tim Ellis, CEO of the Accelerator Centre and Accelerator Program Inc. “The JumpStart program addresses both of these challenges for start-ups. It provides essential funding, and through our Accelerator Program, offers these companies access to experts who can provide business guidance and mentorship. I firmly believe that because of JumpStart, many more early-stage companies will realize success in the market.”

Scientists and Engineers in Business, one of FedDev Ontario’s Southern Ontario Advantage initiatives, aims to improve the success rate of start-up businesses in southern Ontario by developing business skills of entrepreneurs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, and providing targeted support to help them bring innovative ideas and products to market.

To date, over $420 million in funding has been committed to over 240 projects under the Southern Ontario Advantage initiatives, resulting in partnerships with more than 5,000 organizations, and over $1.2 billion in additional leveraged investments from almost exclusively non-government sources.

Created in 2009, FedDev Ontario supports the southern Ontario economy by building on the region’s strengths and creating opportunities for jobs and economic growth. In Budget 2013, the Government of Canada demonstrated its continued commitment to workers, families and communities in southern Ontario with the renewal of FedDev Ontario. Economic Action Plan 2013 provides $920 million over five years for the Agency, starting on April 1, 2014. As part of the renewal, FedDev Ontario will be allocating $200 million over five years for a new Advanced Manufacturing Fund in Ontario. To learn more, please visit www.FedDevOntario.gc.ca or call 1-866-593-5505.

As outlined by the Prime Minister, the Government of Canada remains focused on what Canadians care most about: their families, the safety of our streets and communities, their pride in being a citizen of this country, and their personal financial security.

Follow us on Twitter @FedDevOntario

– 30 –

For more information, contact:

Stephanie Thomas
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Gary Goodyear
613-960-7728

Media Relations
FedDev Ontario
416-954-6652

The Accelerator Centre Announces the Graduation of Three More Start-ups

BigRoad, Boom Digital Media, and InfiniDy Join Rising Tide of Market-Ready Companies Graduating from the Accelerator Centre’s Award Winning Incubation Program.

Waterloo (Ontario), CANADA, June 19, 2013 – World-renowned for its cultivation of technology entrepreneurship, Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre announced today the successful graduation of BigRoad, Boom Digital Media Group and InfiniDy from its award-winning incubation program. The three companies bring the total number of graduates from the Accelerator Program to 31.

Founded by brothers Kelly and Terry Frey and technologist Dan Collens in less than two years, BigRoad has become the #1 electronic log app on Android. Leveraging the Frey brother’s extensive experience in the transportation and fleet management sector, BigRoad is dedicated to improving a commercial carrier driver’s life on the road while streamlining small- to mid-sized fleet operations. In the last year, the company has signed partnerships with the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, as well as Sprint and Bell to bring their smartphone app to market.

InfiniDy, located at the Communitech Hub, is a mobile gaming company discovered by two University of Waterloo Graduates, Xun Cai and Rashid Khan. In its short lifespan, the company has created several top ranking games for the iOS. “9,000 BC” developed by InfiniDy in 2009 was featured by Apple as one of the Best Archer Games! 2012’s “Zombies vs. Aliens” was ranked as one of the Top Paid Games in the US and on other worldwide App Stores. And InfiniDy’s latest title “Happy Park” has been downloaded millions of times and continues to be a global success.

Boom Digital Media Group, founded by senior broadcast executive and serial entrepreneur David Debono, is leveraging its team’s years of experience in the television and video production area to create a unique cross-platform gaming solution that merges social gaming with high definition live video. Boom now has hundreds of thousands of registered users that are are able to play syncronously across Web, Facebook, iOS and Android platforms. Boom’s games include Boom Bingo, Beach Bingo with more gaming channels launching soon.

“Each of our graduating companies today have achieved exceptional traction within their respective markets for their products and services. From apps for truckers to games for the young and young at heart, BigRoad, Boom Digital Media Group and InfiniDy are shining examples of the innovative businesses being cultivated within the Accelerator Centre’s Accelerator Program,” says Tim Ellis, CEO of the Waterloo Accelerator Centre and Accelerator Program Inc.

About the Accelerator Centre

The Accelerator Centre, located within Waterloo’s David Johnston Research and Technology Park, is a world-renowned, award-winning facility dedicated to developing and commercializing technology start-ups. Through its Accelerator Program, early-stage companies benefit from in-depth business coaching and seamless support services, including access to office facilities, coaching and mentoring, education, connections to capital, networking, R&D support and outreach, talent recruitment, technology transfer assistance, and commercialization expertise, enabling technology start-ups to move to market faster, create jobs and stimulate economic activity.

Social Media Links

Follow us on Twitter @AC_Waterloo
Join us on LinkedIn

For further information, please contact:
Ellyn Winters-Robinson
Communications Advisor
Accelerator Centre
Phone: 519-624-2402
Email: ewinters-robinson@acceleratorcentre.com
@ellynjane

Waterloo helps kick-start food technology initiative

The city is spending $200,000 to kick-start a new food technology initiative at the Accelerator Centre.

On Monday, councillors approved a recommendation from the city’s economic development committee to provide seed funding for what they’re calling Canada’s Technology for Food Initiative.

The goal is to marry Waterloo’s tech and academic communities with the world of food processing and production to innovate, increase efficiency and try to keep processors here.

The food technology innovation cluster would be the first of its kind in North America.

“It just looks fantastic,” Coun. Scott Witmer said. “It’s pretty exciting stuff.”

Economic development committee members heard from local food and beverage processors including Pillers and Brick Brewing that there’s a need for more innovation, talent retention and attraction and co-ordination of efforts.

The economic development committee heard similar concerns from Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food delegations.

Those challenges are resulting in lost local food and beverage processors as companies try to minimize operating costs, says a city report.

To make the project’s three phases work would require $17 million in funding, which organizers expect to be raised by a combination of provincial and federal grants and from local players in the industry.

Each phase is made up of challenges presented by processors that researchers will try to solve.

Ted McKechnie of the economic development committee said this is no overnight project.

“Our long-term vision is really to incubate and commercialize the tech for food products,” he said.

It’s envisioned to be local, national and international in scale, he said.

Waterloo’s $200,000 will be paid to the Accelerator Centre to set up Canada’s Food Technology Initiative. The Accelerator Centre is dedicated to developing technology startups and will be the project lead.

“I’m excited about our next steps,” Mayor Brenda Halloran said.

pdesmond@therecord.com

The food and beverage processing industry:

•More than 1,400 local farms earn at least two times more in farm receipts than the provincial average per acre

•Food production is the second largest industry in the province, next to automobile production

•There are 100 processors and distributors locally

•Conestoga College recently opened its Institute for Food Processing Technology

•Food production began in Waterloo Region in the 1800s

Source: City of Waterloo staff report

Press Release: The Waterloo Accelerator Centre and City of Waterloo announce Canada’s Technology for Food Collaboration

Groundbreaking initiative bringing together industry, academia and government to foster innovation and sustainability in food and beverage processing in Ontario

World-renowned for its cultivation of technology entrepreneurship and commercialization, Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre announced today it has partnered with the City of Waterloo to launch Canada’s first innovation program focused on the food and beverage processing industry. Canada’s Technology for Food (CTFF), spearheaded by the Waterloo Economic Development Committee (WEDC) and its vice-chair Ted McKechnie, will bring industry and academic partners together with Waterloo’s business community to foster innovation and accelerate the commercialization of technologies aimed at advancing Canada’s food and beverage processing industry at home and abroad. CTFF will focus on innovation, retraining, and building a highly skilled workforce to bridge the labour gap.

“Waterloo Region enjoys a long history in food and beverage production, stretching back to the 1800’s, and today, South-western Ontario remains the largest food manufacturing region in Canada and third largest in North America,” said Tim Anderson, CAO, City of Waterloo. “We need to continue to innovate, to inject new ideas and technologies into the industry to maintain our position as a world leader. We have been actively seeking an opportunity to support the advancement of this industry for some time. Canada’s Technology for Food is the solution we’ve been seeking; it can be a catalyst for real change in the food and beverage processing industry here in Waterloo, across Ontario and Canada, and in time, globally.”

“This collaboration partnership brings together the best of the best in this community. It marries industry partners that have real challenges, with the academic knowledge, technology, fabricators and commercialization and start-up expertise we have in Waterloo,” said Ted McKechnie of the Davies Group of Companies, former president of Maple Leaf Foods, and the current chair of CTFF. “We’ll work with industry partners to identify challenges and opportunities for improvement. Then we’ll match that industry partner with a consortium of solution providers to build an answer to that challenge. When the solution has potential to benefit the rest of the industry, we’ll work with the Accelerator Centre to commercialize the technology and grow the business.”

The CTFF will be located at the Waterloo Accelerator Centre (AC), an award-winning incubation and commercialization facility located in Waterloo’s David Johnston Research + Technology Park. The AC assists entrepreneurs and early stage companies in commercializing their technologies and establishing market traction, through an up to three year program provides business advisory, mentorship, education, connections to capital and other partners and commercialization expertise.

“We are extremely excited to play a leadership role in this important partnership,” says Tim Ellis, CEO of the Waterloo Accelerator Centre and Accelerator Program. “Every day within our facility we are inspired by the creative thinking of entrepreneurs and start-ups who apply out of the box thinking, fearlessness and creativity to solve economic and business challenges. Canada’s Technology for Food brings an industry with significant economic impact in Ontario and a new sphere of opportunities into the mix. I’m really looking forward to fostering some new innovative companies who I know will bring exciting new answers to the challenges facing our food and beverage processing industry today.”

Among the founding members of the CTFF are:

Founding Partners:

The Waterloo Accelerator Centre
The City of Waterloo

Academic Institutions:

The University of Guelph
Conestoga College
University of Waterloo
Wilfrid Laurier University
Niagara College

Food and Beverage Companies:

Piller’s Fine Foods
Brick Brewery Co Ltd
Conestoga Meat Packers

Fabricators:

KL Products Inc
Cambridge Metal Products Inc (CPM)

About the Accelerator Centre

The Accelerator Centre, located within Waterloo’s David Johnston Research + Technology Park, is a world-renowned, award-winning facility dedicated to developing and commercializing technology start-ups. Through its Accelerator Program, early-stage companies benefit from in-depth business coaching and seamless support services, including access to office facilities, coaching and mentoring, education, connections to capital, networking, R&D support and outreach, talent recruitment, technology transfer assistance, and commercialization expertise, enabling technology start-ups to move to market faster, create jobs and stimulate economic activity.

About the Waterloo Economic Development Committee:

The City of Waterloo’s economic development committee advises council on policies that are consistent with the intent of their economic development program. Led by members of the public, the committee also facilitates a number of activities including providing the economic development division with information and intelligence on the community’s markets, labour force, and industrial and commercial sites. It also acts as a resource to businesses to assist in feasibility assessments, proposals to council and other initiatives and provides input to council on matters of industrial and commercial requirements, zoning, transportation, utility services, tax implications and industrial land sales and acquisition policy

Follow the Accelerator Centre online:
@AC_Waterloo
Facebook

Follow the City of Waterloo online:
@CityWaterloo

For further information, please contact:
Ellyn Winters-Robinson
Communications Advisor
Accelerator Centre
519-624-2402
ewinters-robinson@acceleratorcentre.com
@ellynjane

Megan Harris
Director, Communications
City of Waterloo
518-747-8513
megan.harris@waterloo.ca

Press Release: The Waterloo Accelerator Centre and City of Waterloo announce Canada’s Technology for Food Collaboration

Groundbreaking initiative bringing together industry, academia and government to foster innovation and sustainability in food and beverage processing in Ontario

World-renowned for its cultivation of technology entrepreneurship and commercialization, Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre announced today it has partnered with the City of Waterloo to launch Canada’s first innovation program focused on the food and beverage processing industry. Canada’s Technology for Food (CTFF), spearheaded by the Waterloo Economic Development Committee (WEDC) and its vice-chair Ted McKechnie, will bring industry and academic partners together with Waterloo’s business community to foster innovation and accelerate the commercialization of technologies aimed at advancing Canada’s food and beverage processing industry at home and abroad. CTFF will focus on innovation, retraining, and building a highly skilled workforce to bridge the labour gap.

“Waterloo Region enjoys a long history in food and beverage production, stretching back to the 1800’s, and today, South-western Ontario remains the largest food manufacturing region in Canada and third largest in North America,” said Tim Anderson, CAO, City of Waterloo. “We need to continue to innovate, to inject new ideas and technologies into the industry to maintain our position as a world leader. We have been actively seeking an opportunity to support the advancement of this industry for some time. Canada’s Technology for Food is the solution we’ve been seeking; it can be a catalyst for real change in the food and beverage processing industry here in Waterloo, across Ontario and Canada, and in time, globally.”

“This collaboration partnership brings together the best of the best in this community. It marries industry partners that have real challenges, with the academic knowledge, technology, fabricators and commercialization and start-up expertise we have in Waterloo,” said Ted McKechnie of the Davies Group of Companies, former president of Maple Leaf Foods, and the current chair of CTFF. “We’ll work with industry partners to identify challenges and opportunities for improvement. Then we’ll match that industry partner with a consortium of solution providers to build an answer to that challenge. When the solution has potential to benefit the rest of the industry, we’ll work with the Accelerator Centre to commercialize the technology and grow the business.”

The CTFF will be located at the Waterloo Accelerator Centre (AC), an award-winning incubation and commercialization facility located in Waterloo’s David Johnston Research + Technology Park. The AC assists entrepreneurs and early stage companies in commercializing their technologies and establishing market traction, through an up to three year program provides business advisory, mentorship, education, connections to capital and other partners and commercialization expertise.

“We are extremely excited to play a leadership role in this important partnership,” says Tim Ellis, CEO of the Waterloo Accelerator Centre and Accelerator Program. “Every day within our facility we are inspired by the creative thinking of entrepreneurs and start-ups who apply out of the box thinking, fearlessness and creativity to solve economic and business challenges. Canada’s Technology for Food brings an industry with significant economic impact in Ontario and a new sphere of opportunities into the mix. I’m really looking forward to fostering some new innovative companies who I know will bring exciting new answers to the challenges facing our food and beverage processing industry today.”

Among the founding members of the CTFF are:

Founding Partners:

The Waterloo Accelerator Centre
The City of Waterloo

Academic Institutions:

The University of Guelph
Conestoga College
University of Waterloo
Wilfrid Laurier University
Niagara College

Food and Beverage Companies:

Piller’s Fine Foods
Brick Brewery Co Ltd
Conestoga Meat Packers

Fabricators:

KL Products Inc
Cambridge Metal Products Inc (CPM)

About the Accelerator Centre

The Accelerator Centre, located within Waterloo’s David Johnston Research + Technology Park, is a world-renowned, award-winning facility dedicated to developing and commercializing technology start-ups. Through its Accelerator Program, early-stage companies benefit from in-depth business coaching and seamless support services, including access to office facilities, coaching and mentoring, education, connections to capital, networking, R&D support and outreach, talent recruitment, technology transfer assistance, and commercialization expertise, enabling technology start-ups to move to market faster, create jobs and stimulate economic activity.

About the Waterloo Economic Development Committee:

The City of Waterloo’s economic development committee advises council on policies that are consistent with the intent of their economic development program. Led by members of the public, the committee also facilitates a number of activities including providing the economic development division with information and intelligence on the community’s markets, labour force, and industrial and commercial sites. It also acts as a resource to businesses to assist in feasibility assessments, proposals to council and other initiatives and provides input to council on matters of industrial and commercial requirements, zoning, transportation, utility services, tax implications and industrial land sales and acquisition policy

Follow the Accelerator Centre online:
@AC_Waterloo
Facebook

Follow the City of Waterloo online:
@CityWaterloo

For further information, please contact:
Ellyn Winters-Robinson
Communications Advisor
Accelerator Centre
519-624-2402
ewinters-robinson@acceleratorcentre.com
@ellynjane

Megan Harris
Director, Communications
City of Waterloo
518-747-8513
megan.harris@waterloo.ca

New building aims to take tech firms to next level

Tim Ellis sees it every time a startup packs its bags and leaves the business incubator he runs in Waterloo.

The dreaded M-word – moving – keeps him awake at night and messes with his mandate.

His job is to remove barriers for young companies. But at the point when they’re just starting to take off, moving can be a real momentum-buster, said the chief executive officer of the Accelerator Centre.

Headaches such as finding a new office, setting the terms of the lease and securing enough parking slow down startups at the worst possible time, said Ellis.

“It delays the companies,” he said. “When they leave here, there is a blip, like a stock chart where things drop. We want to eliminate that.”

Ellis hopes he found the solution to this dilemma in a new building planned for the David Johnston Research & Technology Park, where the Accelerator Centre is located.

The three-storey, 115,000-square-foot building will welcome graduates of the Accelerator Centre program and a mix of other selected tenants, including foreign companies looking to dip a toe in the waters of Waterloo Region.

Many of the graduating companies of the Accelerator Centre, and its offshoots at the Communitech Hub in Kitchener and the Stratford Accelerator Centre, want to replicate the shared environment offered by the program, said Ellis.

The new building will attempt to recreate that ambience of collaboration without most of the mentoring, coaching and other formal programming offered by the Accelerator Centre itself, he said.

Instead of removing grads from the entire tree, “We want to push them out of the nest into a branch of the tree,” Ellis said.

A date has not been set for the start of construction because stakeholders are still deliberating about the right mix of occupants.

The aim is not just to fill up the building with tenants, said Carol Stewart, manager of the research park.

“You can’t just go out and be straight real estate. You have to be laser-focused” on finding the right tenants, she said.

The plan is to have the $30-million building ready for occupancy in 2015, said Adrian Conrad, president of Cora Developments, which will construct the facility.

“We want to make sure we get the right package (of occupants) before we start,” he said.

It will be located at 435 Wes Graham Way on the same roundabout occupied by Sybase and a Cora-owned building housing Agfa Healthcare, Enflick and Cisco Systems.

The new building has tentatively been dubbed the International Business Centre because it will offer Accelerator Centre programming that focuses on helping tenants scale globally, said Ellis.

Current tenants of the Accelerator Centre are too young to expand internationally, but once they leave the nest they could use some assistance and coaching in that regard, he said.

As well, the park occasionally gets inquiries from international companies looking to establish a small presence in the region in the kind of collaborative and flexible setting offered by the Accelerator Centre, said Stewart.

Another tenant in the new building likely will be Capacity Waterloo Region, which helps non-profit organizations find new ways to raise funding and create social enterprises.

Capacity Waterloo Region is housed in the Accelerator Centre building, but is looking to expand as it works on a new concept to support social innovators, said Ellis.

“They love being with the entrepreneurs and they don’t want to change that.”

The innovative “collision” between the profit and non-profit sectors is one of the things that work well in the Accelerator Centre, he said.

The units in the International Building Centre will be larger than those in the Accelerator Centre, but still compact in size at about 1,500 to 7,500 square feet, and will lease for three years or less to give tenants more flexibility, said Ellis.

Leases in privately owned buildings in the region typically start at three years. The norm is at least five years for an existing building and 10 to 15 years for a new building, said Conrad.

The International Business Centre will be the 10th building to go up in the research park since it was launched 10 years ago as a joint venture by the University of Waterloo, government and the private sector.

Located north of Columbia Street on the north part of the UW campus, the purpose of the 40-hectare park was to attract private tenants looking to capitalize on the university’s top-flight graduates in math, computer science and engineering and to build this area’s knowledge economy.

Other buildings in the park include Sybase, two OpenText facilities, the InnoTech building which is leased to BlackBerry, the Accelerator Building, the TechTown service centre, two research advancement centres owned by UW and a Cora-owned building that houses Agfa and other tenants.

UW owns the land and leases it to private-sector developers such as Cora, which has already erected three buildings in the park.

Besides the International Business Centre, the technology park has room for three more buildings in the first phase of its development, said Stewart.

The smaller phase-two section consists of about 28 hectares between Sybase and Bearinger Road. The number of buildings to be established there hasn’t been determined yet.

“There’s a whole lot of planning we have to do yet for that,” said Stewart.

One of the objectives of the International Business Centre is to nurture the kind of larger enterprise that will want to occupy future buildings in Johnston Park, said Ellis.

“If we build the right culture in the park, they will want to stay in the park.”

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