IAF announced funding 8 companies

The Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation announced funding of up to $500,000 in 8 companies through the Investment Accelerator Fund. I’ve talked about how I think this program is AWESOME for early stage entrepreneurs, it provides access to capital for companies creating technical innovations that need with commercialization and getting to market. The program is not the only path for entrepreneurs but it is a good program that supports Ontario entrepreneurs. As Paul Buchheit at FriendFeed says, “overnight success takes a long time”. Many of these companies have used more than one OCE or IRAP program to get to this level.

The distribution of the companies is interesting. Six companies in Toronto, one company in Kanata, and one company in Hamilton. Spectrum of solutions covering optical crystal chips for a new generation of laser displays (C2C Link Corporation), water leak detection (Echologics), WAN QoS (IPeak Networks), marketing performance (Kneebone), wireless controller for energy reduction (Regen Energy), in-vehicle sensors (Skymeter) and social media monitoring (Sysmos).










Love starting off 2009 with a funding announcement in a down market.


theblackswan OCE is hosting it’s Discovery conference again. I’m looking forward to hearing Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. The rest of the schedule looks entertaining and includes Michael Raynor, author of The Strategy Paradox: Why committing to success leads to failure (and what to do about it) and The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth.

List on the Discovery08 web is:

New for 2008: Experience Discovery like never before. Test your pitch on venture capitalists and other business experts. Participate in exciting team challenges that pit your innovation skills against real-world problems. Take advantage of our expanded networking environment. See and hear what’s hot in Ontario’s critical sectors like Cleantech, Energy, Life Sciences, Digital Media and Manufacturing. And connect with some of the world’s best selling authors and pundits at keynote sessions.

The one thing I’m finding strange these days is the number of people mostly from government that are talking about an “innovation sector” and pitting your “innovation skills against real-world problems”. What the hell is the innovation sector? Aren’t companies typically innovative in the previously mentioned sectors (Cleantech, Energy, Life Sciences, Digital Media and Manufacturing)?

What is innovation? Dictionary.com has 6 definitions including “something new or different introduced; the act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods”. I just confused by the marketing speak used by the OCE team in promoting Discovery08. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised when I read the gibberish on the Ministry of Research & Innovation web site:

Places that invest in innovation, that stroke the creativity of people, that market their ideas most effectively will become the home to the most rewarding jobs, to the strongest economies and to the best quality of life. We want Ontario to be that place where innovation is inevitable.

While government involvement in my life is a series of tradeoffs, it’s great to know that at a provincial level there is support for the creation and commercialization of new technologies and business models. MRI supports MaRS, OCE and other organizations that support entrepreneurs, researchers and students with awareness, funding and policy.

What: Discovery08
How do you ride a curve that is yet to emerge? Or prepare for risks that have no name? Or create the next big thing when nothing is certain? Find out at OCE’s Discovery 2008, Canada’s premiere innovation and commercialization event. Be inspired, challenged and emboldened by influential thought leaders, daring visionaries, and over 1,500 delegates from every aspect of the innovation sector.
When: Monday, May 12, 2008 5:00 PM to Tuesday, May 13, 2008 4:00 PM
Where: Metro Toronto Convention Centre

255 Front Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5V 2W6 Canada

Dreaming the Next Web

Albert presented his vision for The Next Web at the October 2007 OCE Mind-to-Market Breakfast. I love that they’ve titled these events “Wake up and smell the future”. I hope it smells better than most CS labs.

OCE is offering a set of great programs like the IAF [PDF] up to $500,000 in early-stage funding for emerging technology companies. The Investment Accelerator Fund is AWESOME. “Investments are made in the form of a convertible debenture (loan) in return for a nominal equity position”. It’s very similar to the QuickStart Seed Funding from Charles River Ventures. I’ve written about this program when it was announced.

“It’s a challenge to find angels or early-stage firms like Ycombinator that develop entrepreneurs and companies. It’s a very different incubation model, i.e., incubate the people, the company, the technology – DON’T provide them space.” – David Crow – Nov 6, 2006

After the OCE breakfast we had an interesting discussion with entrepreneurs, community instigators, angel investment organizations, the Toronto Board of Trade and the OCE. Money is and important ingredient. One that we need to make it easier for Canadian entrepreneurs to find. But it is the people and skills to develop our talent that is just as important. There is the need for the right money, the right connections, the right skills to mentor and develop the people and the company into a powerhouse. Jevon and Jonas provide much better ongoing coverage and analysis of startup financing issues in a Canadian context at StartupNorth.ca.