Taking a customer-first approach

Tech companies can grow through funding or acquisition—so how does a founder know which strategy to pursue and when the right time is?

On Jan. 18, Miovision announced it had acquired CJ Hensch & Associates, a Texas-based traffic technology company. Miovision co-founder and CEO Kurtis McBride said that a customer-first approach has contributed to the company’s success over the last 19 years. 

“Deeply understanding our customers’ challenges – and how they work – has enabled us to develop really compelling solutions,” said McBride. 

Miovision, a graduate of the Accelerator Centre and a long-time Communitech member, will celebrate its twentieth anniversary in 2025.

From engineer to entrepreneur

Can technology provide a solution to increase the pace of housing construction nationwide? Equator co-founder Rebecca Swabey says yes.

“I have seen from my experiences, people often associate delays in housing with construction, overlooking the years of planning by civil and environmental engineers,” Swabey said. “Equator aims to streamline and accelerate this pre-construction phase."

The company is piloting Equator Land Development Intelligence (LDI), which integrates artificial intelligence (AI) and content libraries to expedite engineering proposals and reports. It is set to launch this year.

“We want to cut the time in half,” Swabey said.

ApplyBoard has entered the chat

Recently announced changes to how international student visas are approved have post-secondary institutions and provincial governments scrambling to meet new requirements, including issuing provincial attestation letters. These letters from the province say where a student will be studying, and the federal government requires them before a visa can be issued.

The challenge—provinces need to have a system in place by March 31.

Kitchener-based ApplyBoard said it is ready to deliver a solution. In an article from Terry Pender in The Record, Apply Board CEO Meti Basiri said the company has a technology solution ready to address this challenge.

“We know this technology, we are the market leader in this sector,” Basiri said.

The company has already sent proposals to some provinces, and Basiri said they have meetings set up.

Improving patient outcomes

University of Waterloo spin-off KA Imaging announced its dual-energy mobile system, Reveal Mobi Pro, is available for sale in the U.S. The product combines KA Imaging's Reveal 35C detector with SpectralDR technology into a mobile X-ray solution that lets healthcare providers capture regular and dual-energy X-ray images in one bedside shot. 

“It’s a win-win-win: good for the technologist operating it, good for the radiologist reading better images and good, of course, for the patients who will have access to high-end technology in a highly used modality, which is X-ray,” said Amol Karnick, CEO and President of KA Imaging.

Karnick added that KA Imaging plans to expand its staff as it expands sales into the U.S.

“We strongly believe that we can contribute to improving outcomes in the US while simultaneously expanding and positioning ourselves as a strong Canadian company,” Karnick said.

Making it safer to rinse and spit

Sure, your dentist knows you’re not flossing, but do they know what’s in the water system in their office? That’s the question founders Ela and George Botos asked themselves when they learned nearly 60% of dental offices are unaware of water contamination and its risks.

“While testing water in dental offices, George discovered that they were treating it without testing it after,” Ela said. “He stumbled upon a technology at the University of Waterloo, repurposed it for water testing, and worked to unlock its potential.”

The couple founded ExactBlue Technologies in 2015 to provide rapid water testing for microbial contamination. Ela participated in the Communitech Fierce Founders Intensive Track program, which she said had a transformative impact on the company she and George co-founded.

“Fierce Founders has been a game-changer for ExactBlue Technologies,” she said. “Before joining the program, our progress was steady, but being part of it was like night and day.”

Welcoming new companies to Team True North

On Jan. 30, we welcomed six new members to Team True North. Joining the roster are GoBolt, Humi, Smile Digital Health, SWTCH, ZayZoon and Connect Tech. Team True North companies are selected based on their potential to reach $1 billion in revenue by 2030. 

“Communitech is proud to support Canadian founders who are striving to build globally competitive tech companies,” said Chris Albinson, CEO and President of Communitech. “Data shows that these companies drive innovation and enhance prosperity for all by creating an environment of talent and know-how that fosters new generations of promising startups.”

Fast-tracking healthcare solutions

On Jan. 15, six Canadian tech companies were selected for the next Fast Track Health Showcase pitch event. Leaders from Grand River Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital and Cambridge Memorial Hospital helped to choose the companies based on their innovative solutions to some of the country's most pressing health-care challenges.

"Collaborating with our partners to uncover top-notch Canadian solutions for healthcare challenges has been truly inspiring," said Joel Semeniuk, Chief Strategy Officer at Communitech. "The potential impact of this collective effort underscores the strength of Canada's innovation community."

The six companies will receive coaching from Communitech’s experienced growth coaches and professionals in the health and tech industries across the country. They will also be introduced to healthcare providers and potential customers. The companies will pitch their solutions at the Fast Track Health Showcase event on Feb. 27, 2024.

Conversations over coffee

At a breakfast event at the Communitech Hub, Cohere’s Jaron Waldman shared insights into the company's journey, developments in AI and the role of responsible and ethical AI in the product development lifecycle.

He also highlighted that large language models (LLMs) and generative AI are the next major shift in computing. 

“Every 15 years, major tech shifts like PCs, the internet and mobiles redefine how we live,” Waldman said during a fireside chat with Kevin Tuer, CTO of Communitech. “Now, LLMs are set to reshape how we build and use applications, marking another pivotal change in the way technology influences our lives.”

The event, which attracted 85 attendees from across the tech ecosystem, also included a presentation by Mardi Witzel, COO of PolyML. Witzel shared how the company is collaborating with a $5 billion Canadian auto parts manufacturer, Martinrea, and has deployments in Canada and a forthcoming pilot in Mexico.

Other news

This edition of the Roundup was compiled by Alex Kinsella. Sign up to receive the Roundup each month by visiting communitech.ca/technews and scrolling to the bottom of the page.