Waterloo Accelerator Centre and FedDev Ontario Provide up to $175,000 in JumpStart Funding for Start-Ups in Southern Ontario

Waterloo Region – August 28, 2013 – The Waterloo Accelerator Centre (AC), a world-renowned, award-winning facility dedicated to developing and commercializing technology start-ups announced today it has handed out $25,000 in JumpStart funding to seven young companies, following a highly competitive pitch competition held at the AC’s Waterloo facility. Twelve finalists pitched their company’s story for 5-minutes each before a panel of expert judges, including Dave Caputo, CEO of Sandvine, Chris Howlett, Technology Mentor at the Waterloo Accelerator Centre, Steve McCartney, VP Startup Services at Communitech, and Tim Ellis, CEO of the Waterloo Accelerator Centre.

The winning companies now receive $25,000 in matching seed funds and the right to participate in the AC’s extensive mentoring program, which provides start-ups with access to experts in marketing and sales, HR, PR/communications, technology, and finance.
The funding is being provided through the JumpStart program, which received an investment of up to $945,000 by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario’s (FedDev Ontario) Scientists and Engineers in Business initiative.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, congratulations to all the finalists and winners in the Waterloo Accelerator Centre’s JumpStart program,” said the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for FedDev Ontario. “Our investment in the program is helping the region’s science and technology entrepreneurs develop their business and management skills and launch promising start-up companies. This will help bring innovative ideas to market, creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for our region and all of southern Ontario.”

The seven JumpStart winners are:

  • USB Hub – a company designing the world’s best USB Hub
  • SoundBrush (www.getsoundbrush.com) – a tech-based company that promises to revolutionize the way people create and discover music

  • TrendyMED (www.trendymed.com)- a medical devices company developing a ground-breaking line of intravenous (IV) infusion products
  • SciGit (www.scigit.com) – a Waterloo-based company whose collaboration software is used by over a hundred institutions
  • Concertninja (www.concertninja.com) – a platform for live music fans to crowd fund events in their city. Think KickStarter, but for concerts
  • Kite (www.runkite.com) – a productivity tool that accelerates building web applications
  • Milao Language (www.milaolanguage.com) – a Waterloo based educational technology start-up that will radically change the way people learn a new language

In addition to its $25,000 seed funding, Milao Language’s CEO Camelia Nunez also took home the $1,250 People’s Choice award from the Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN). The Accelerator Centre is a member of the CDMN.

This group of seven companies is the third cohort of JumpStart program beneficiaries. The program was launched in June 2013, benefitting from $945,000 in support from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (www.feddevontario.gc.ca) through its Scientists and Engineers in Business Program. The third cohort will wrap up at the end of March, 2014.

“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,” said Tim Ellis, CEO of the Waterloo 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. ”

“The JumpStart program not only provides us with critical funding at a very vital stage in our company’s growth. It also gave us an opportunity to practice our pitch in front of an audience of our peers and industry experts. We were delighted to be selected as one of the seven companies to enter the JumpStart third cohort, and to bring home the People’s Choice prize for our pitch. It is terrific validation we are on the right path. Thanks FedDev and to the Waterloo Accelerator Centre for providing us with this amazing opportunity,” says Camelia Nunez, CEO Milao Language.

About the Waterloo 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. For information visit us on the web at www.acceleratorcentre.com

For more information, contact:

Shane Pegg, Director of Strategic Initiatives
519-342-2400 or spegg@acceleratorcentre.com

Accelerator Centre Graduate Clearpath Robotics receives prestigious International Business Award

Clearpath Robotics announced that it was named the winner of the Gold StevieĀ® Award for “Best New Product or Service of the Year – Industrial Products & Services” in the 10th Annual International Business Awards. Clearpath’s new product to be recognized for the Gold Stevie is their most recent robotic platform, Grizzly Robotic Utility Vehicle (RUV). See Exchange Magazine September 2013 Monitor Section.

International Business Awards (IBAs) are one of the world’s top premier business award programs. The Stevie Awards, nicknamed the Stevies for the Greek word “crowned,” were created to honor and generate public recognition of the achievements and positive contributions of organizations and working people worldwide.

More than 3,300 nominations from organizations in over 50 nations and territories were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories, including Most Innovative Company of the Year, Management Team of the Year, Best New Product or Service of the Year, Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year, and Executive of the Year, among others. The Stevie Award winners were selected by more than 250 executives worldwide who participated in the judging process this year.

“The 2013 International Business Awards are noteworthy for featuring the best collection of entries we have ever received,” said Michael Gallagher, president and founder of the Stevie Awards. “The judges have been unanimous in their comments about the quality of achievements, and the expertise with which they were portrayed, in the nominations we received this year. We extend our most heartfelt congratulations to all of this year’s Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award winners.”

Clearpath Robotics introduced Grizzly RUV in March 2013. The autonomous vehicle is engineered to handle harsh, dangerous environments. With four high-torque motors, rugged 26″ all-terrain tires, class-leading ground clearance, a solid steel chassis, 48V at 400Ah of power, and a base weight of 1450lbs, it is ideal for industrial applications, particularly in agriculture, mining and defense.

“We are honored to be recognized by the International Business Awards and congratulate all of the nominees and fellow honorees for their achievements”, said Matt Rendall, CEO of Clearpath Robotics. “Grizzly Robotic Utility Vehicle is the first of its kind in the industry and the team here at Clearpath is beyond excited for their acknowledged accomplishment – Grizzly would not have come to fruition without the dedicated, awesome team of engineers that stand behind it.”

Details about The International Business Awards and the list of Stevie Award winners are available here. The awards will be presented to winners at a gala awards banquet at the W Hotel in Barcelona, Spain on 14 October 2013.

Source: Exchange Magazine

August 15, 2013

Underwater Drones are Multiplying Fast

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.

Deep Trekker, 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, Deep Trekker’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 Deep Trekker’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.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

June 24, 2013