A capital month!
October was a good month for investment in Waterloo Region tech.
Kitchener-based FluidAI Medical announced a US$15-million Series A raise. The medtech scale-up, which uses artificial intelligence and nanotechnology to monitor a patient’s post-operative condition, said it will use the cash to enhance its medical-record integration, fuel international expansion, hire additional employees and develop new solutions to assist medical professionals with post-operative patient care.
“This funding not only validates our vision but also fuels our mission,” said co-founder and CEO Youssef Helwa.
Miovision also had some welcome funding news. The Kitchener-based maker of traffic-management technology closed a CDN$36-million add-on to a CDN$260-million raise announced earlier this year. The combined CDN$296 million will help Miovision continue to grow organically and perhaps through acquisitions, CEO and co-founder Kurtis McBride told Tech News.
McBride had some fundraising tips for fellow founders. Despite the cautious investment climate, there is money to fund growth strategies that involve the acquisition of profitable companies, he said.
In other investment news, BDC announced an additional $50-million injection into its Seed Venture Fund, which provides much-needed support for emerging Canadian startups. The fund will focus primarily on promising pre-seed and seed-stage software companies within enterprise SaaS and other software verticals, including Digital Health and FinTech, that are using AI in their products and services.
Despite these wins, the investment in Canadian tech in 2023 remains sluggish compared to previous years. A report by briefed.in found that companies in Waterloo Region have attracted $304.6 million so far this year. With two months to go, that’s 36 per cent of the $856.4 million raised in all of 2022.
In other news, Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation Inc. completed its acquisition of 15-year-old Clearpath Robotics and its industrial offering, OTTO Motors, both of Kitchener.
Co-founder and CEO Matt Rendall said the deal is good for Clearpath, OTTO Motors and the Waterloo Region tech ecosystem.
“We are planning to stay in K-W and we’re looking forward to continuing to call K-W home and grow a really amazing manufacturing business here,” Rendall told Tech News.
Waterloo Region’s thriving medtech scene got a healthy boost in October with the official opening of McMaster University’s innovation centre in the Communitech Hub.
Dubbed ‘MACcelrate,’ the centre will strengthen the university’s existing collaborations with Waterloo Region’s growing medtech community. Those ties involve McMaster’s expertise in health sciences and clinical trials, and Waterloo Region’s proven strength in commercialization.
“We chose to be a part of the thriving innovation ecosystem in the Kitchener-Waterloo Region, and in many ways, Communitech defines the innovation districts we aim to replicate,” McMaster President and Vice-Chancellor David Farrar said during an official opening in the Hub. “With an existing node of our MD program here and the training opportunities it offers, the real question is not why we're here, but why we didn't join sooner.”
Speaking of medtech, columnist Alex Kinsella brings us the inspirational story behind AskEllyn.ai.
The local startup is billed as the world’s first conversation AI tool to help people diagnosed with breast cancer.
AskEllyn.ai uses generative artificial intelligence to help people get answers to their questions about breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. It’s the brainchild of public relations leader Ellyn Winters-Robinson, a breast-cancer survivor herself, and Patrick Belliveau and Chris Silvestru of Gambit Technologies.
In other health-tech news, Grand River Hospital in Kitchener was named the 2023 CAN Health Network Edge of the Year for its dedication to health-care innovation in Canada.
The award was presented at the annual meeting of Communitech partner CAN Health, a national partnership of 31 leading Canadian health organizations working with tech companies to address health-care challenges.
Pfizer Canada announced the first three winners of its inaugural health-care innovation accelerator program, which was created in partnership with Communitech.
The three companies were chosen through a competitive process based on a set of five health-care challenges. The three winners, who will share $1.4 million, include:
- CANImmunize (Ottawa, ON)
- PharmaGuide (Richmond Hill, ON)
- Wave View Imaging (Calgary, AB)
Also in October, Communitech issued a new call for solutions through its own Fast Track Health program. Based on an engagement model, the program brings tech companies together with health-care officials to find ways to solve health-care challenges through innovation.
What do you get when you mix a lot of tech talk with sausage, schnitzel, polka music and a few cold beverages? Techtoberfest!
The Communitech Hub was filled with plenty of Gemütlichkeit on Oct. 12 as the tech community came together for an Oktoberfest-style day of learning, networking and celebrating. The event attracted more than 500 founders, investors and partners from the local ecosystem, the Waterloo-Toronto corridor and farther afield for a variety of workshops, panel discussions, peer-to-peer talks and socializing.
“What a testament to the energy and spirit of Canadian tech!” said Chris Albinson, CEO and President of Communitech. “Events like Techtoberfest help fuel the sense of community that is so important in building a strong, world-leading tech ecosystem like the one we enjoy here in Waterloo Region and across Canada.”
Check out our photo gallery from the event!
Earlier in the month, a Communitech Breakfast attracted another big crowd to the Hub to hear from Tom Jenkins, Chair of OpenText, and from medtech founder Maria Plummer, CEO of Ingenyewity Inc.
Jenkins shared wisdom from his many years in tech, including the importance of cash flow and building trust with customers and partners. Another tip: in this era of volatile inflation, make sure you include a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in contracts to order to keep pace with rising costs.
Plummer shared her journey from nursing to entrepreneurship, introducing her innovative product, YewTwist, a device that offers a quick and secure way to disconnect and change intravenous and feeding-tube connections.
Speaking of startups, check out writer Suhani Saigal’s profile of Daily Blends. Launched In 2020 by sisters Shriya and Purva Gupta, the AI-powered company is on a mission to revolutionize food access and reduce food wastage.
The Communitech Outposts employer-of-record team wrapped up a four-part series designed to help founders learn more about hiring sales and other staff in foreign markets. The Global Growth Series brought founders together with experienced business leaders to learn about expanding into the U.S, Europe, Central and South America and Asia-Pacific.
Check out a blog post by our Head of Outposts, Azhar Janjua, to learn more.
In other news
- Founder Alisha McFetridge’s RainStick Shower, a water-recycling system that cleans and reuses shower water, was named one of the Best Inventions of 2023 by the TIME media company.
- NuEnergy.ai, an AI governance company, has secured a U.S. patent for its Machine Trust Index, a system that helps convey complex technical AI assessments in a comprehensible manner for those overseeing AI use.
- Researchers at the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute (CPI) at the University of Waterloo have received $3.3 million from the National Cybersecurity Consortium under the federal government’s Cyber Security Innovation Network program.
This edition of the Roundup compiled by Suhani Saigal and Kevin Crowley. Sign up to receive the Roundup each month by visiting communitech.ca/technews and scrolling to the bottom of the page.