Filomena Tassi swept into Communitech today bearing funding and encouragement for the Canadian tech community.
“All of us here today understand how vital the tech sector is to the economic prosperity of our region and our nation,” said Tassi, the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). “Together we are positioning Canada as a leader in digital technology.”
Tassi said the federal government understands that to achieve and hold that position it needs to ensure that founders "have the tools and the support to seize the opportunities to produce made-in-Canada products that grow our economy and create jobs.”
The support she brought with her came in the form of $7.5 million to help three Waterloo Region tech companies scale their businesses and create jobs.
- Waterloo-based Shinydocs Corp. will receive a $4-million repayable contribution through the federal Jobs and Growth Fund. The funding will help the 11-year-old company to enhance its information-management software and create 40 jobs.
- Kitchener-based Encircle Inc. will receive a $2.1-million repayable contribution, also through the Jobs and Growth Fund. The money will help the insurance-tech company further develop its mobile platform, which enables restorers, adjusters and insurance companies to collaborate on claims documentation. The funding will also help the 10-year-old company expand into new export markets and hire an additional 20 employees.
- Proto Research Inc. a Kitchener-based startup that provides inclusive and multilingual chatbot services, is receiving a $1.4-million repayable contribution through the Business Scale-up and Productivity program. Proto Research plans to use the funds to add new language profiles for services in Africa and Asia, and create 15 jobs.
“You are the example of the kind of innovation that Kitchener-Waterloo is known for around the world,” Tassi said. “I want to offer every bit of encouragement that I can to you to keep being competitive, to keep growing and to keep making us proud of the amazing results that we are producing right here.”
A lawyer and former high school chaplain, Tassi has held several ministerial portfolios since being elected as a Hamilton-area MP in 2015. She took up her most recent post in August, and her visit to Kitchener was her first official ministerial event as the Minister for FedDev Ontario.
It was also her first visit to the Communitech Hub.
“What a fantastic vibe this place has!” she said. “It’s really impressive, and it’s fantastic work that’s going on here.”
Tassi was welcomed by Communitech CEO and President Chris Albinson, who acknowledged the important role that FedDev plays in supporting Canadian tech companies.
“Communitech is celebrating our 25th anniversary,” he said. “We’ve been able to help 1,600 founders across Canada, mostly here in the Waterloo Region, grow everything from start to scale-up and now world-class, at-scale companies, and it would not have been possible without the strategic and focused investment by FedDev.”
Tassi said her new portfolio was “absolutely fantastic” because it allows her to see first-hand how investments in small and medium-sized businesses have an impact on the entire economy.
“It’s important for me to confirm the commitment of our government in recognizing the leadership, the hard work of small and medium-sized businesses and the importance of providing opportunities for our talent here to grow, develop and to flourish,” she said.
Before her visit to Communitech, Tassi swung by the annual Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest kickoff where she announced $2.4 million in federal tourism relief to support the full-scale return of the annual German cultural festival and three other area tourism initiatives.