Cash is King

So much for the dog days of August. A series of big-time money deals unfolded in recent weeks, putting paid to the notion of late-summer relaxation. The biggest of the three was claimed by Cambridge e-security firm eSentire, which announced an injection of funds from global private equity firm Warburg Pincus said to be worth more than US$100 million. A day later Waterloo Region- and Toronto-based mobile commerce software company Tulip Retail announced it had raised US$40 million in a Series B round led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Communitech News’ Editorial Director Tony Reinhart followed up the development with an intriguing story about the unconventional way the deal unfolded. And the month was led off with the news of a CAD$15 million Series B raise by Auvik Networks, the Waterloo-based maker of network monitoring and management software. The round is being led by Boston-based venture capital firm OpenView.

Two startups, meanwhile, got a sweet cash injection of $50,000 at the Fierce Founders Bootcamp pitch competition in August. Furnishr.com, a Toronto-based home decorating platform, and SomaDetect, a Fredericton, N.B., maker of a sensor that measures indicators of milk quality and cow health, split the $100,000 grand prize, provided by Deloitte.

Made in Ontario, made in Canada 

Still more money to boost the ecosystem was at the heart of an announcement by the Ontario government in late August. Kitchener Centre MPP Daiene Vernile was on hand at Communitech to launch a $25.8 million fund to help clean-tech companies get established. And Deb Matthews, Ontario’s Minister Responsible for Digital Government, joined Hillary Hartley, Ontario’s new Chief Digital Officer, to launch the Ontario Digital Service Lab at Communitech, which aims to retool the way the government delivers services to Ontarians. Hartley, by the way, was the subject of a not-to-be-missed Nimble Hippo podcast. Not to be outdone, the federal government had a late-August announcement of its own: Minister of Small Business and Tourism and Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger was at the Tannery offices of D2L to unwrap the Information Technology Association of Canada Career Ready Program, which will provide jobs for post-secondary students and will underwrite up to 50 per cent of their salaries.

Real estate roundup

The rapid redevelopment of Waterloo Region real estate continued, with Voisin Capital announcing plans to add two floors in a $12 million redevelopment of a 103-year-old Kitchener building at 48 Ontario St. N., the former Royal Canadian Legion building. Doing so will maintain the city core’s makeover momentum and provide another ripe location for a budding tech company’s headquarters, similar, for instance, to the way Vidyard moved into the 40,000 square foot, brick-and-beam heritage building at 8 Queen St. N. – a building which just happened to be the subject of an extensive photo essay last month in Techvibes. Likewise, Communitech’s two locations, at the Tannery in downtown Kitchener and the Data Hub at 14 Erb St. W., in Waterloo, received feature treatment in a Globe and Mail story entitled Raw spaces enable startups to sprout in Canada’s Silicon Valley. And Communitech News produced a story about the remarkable, 17-acre, Lot 42 Global Flex Campus taking shape near Ottawa St. and Homer Watson Blvd. The site – did we mention it’s enormous? – will be home for the much-anticipated Communitech 151 event this May. Finally, InFlight, maker of a product that improves legacy software, celebrated the opening of its midtown Kitchener location, a party sweetened by the long-awaited reopening of King Street. The occasion was captured in a video produced by Communitech’s Phil Froklage.

Working on the block chain

Kik’s plans to launch its own cryptocurrency, called Kin, began to take shape. Kik, the Waterloo-based messaging app company, announced that its token distribution event will begin Sept. 12, and is aiming to raise CDN$157 million. Kik CEO Ted Livingston spoke about Kin and his concerns over the regulatory challenges facing cryptocurrency during the FinTech Canada Bitcoin and Ethereum Summit, which took place at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. Still with digital currency, a new Waterloo Region organization calling itself ETHWaterloo, co-founded by Atomic’s Liam Horne, announced a three-day Ethereum-based hackathon on Oct. 13-15 at CIGI, the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Smart cities, smart people

Kurtis McBride, CEO of Kitchener-based IoT firm Miovision, penned a thoughtful piece explaining the importance for civic policy makers to adopt an open infrastructure foundation to speed development of smart cities.

A smart city is top of mind these days for Karl-Allen Muncey, who recently left Postmedia to take on the task of leading The City of Kitchener’s new innovation lab. Muncey described his early plans for the lab in a piece in The Kitchener Post. The lab is set to open at Communitech in September. On the talent front, Thalmic Labs, the Kitchener-based maker of the Myo armband, will no doubt go to school on the expertise of new hire Cheryl Eng, who takes on the role of Director of Retail. Eng was previously at Apple, where she led the team that created Genius Bar, and she’ll work out of Thalmic’s San Francisco office.

Good vibrations

When fire began ravaging forests in British Columbia this summer, the crew at O2 Canada, a Waterloo-based startup that makes high-tech air filter masks and pairs them with an air quality app, stepped up. Company co-founder Rich Szasz flew to China, expedited production and arranged for the distribution of 250 free masks to front-line workers battling the blazes. While O2 Canada was helping out in B.C., closer to home University of Waterloo Professor Jesse Hoey talked to the Waterloo Region Record about how he is developing an artificial intelligence-based virtual assistant that will help people with Alzheimer’s better manage their lives. That’s a mission well understood by the folks at Waterloo-based Emmetros, who make software designed to assist people suffering from dementia. Executives from Emmetros sat down with Communitech News and described the commitment they make not only to their customers, but to their own employees, enshrining work-life balance in contracts.

In other news

  • Kitchener-based Clearpath Robotics has partnered with Cepton Technologies of San Jose, Calif., making Cepton’s sensors available at Clearpath’s online store.
  • Fast growing ad optimization startup Sortable, based in Kitchener, launched a machine learning-based product called Sortable Analytics.
  • Waterloo-headquartered Dejero Labs, which helps companies deliver video over IP, announced a partnership with Luxembourg-based Intelsat to improve reliability of video transmission.
  • The Waterloo Region Record wrote about a pair of University of Waterloo grads who report to an audience based in China on the goings-on in the Waterloo Region tech sector. Their firm, W.I.T. Insider, is based in the Laurier LaunchPad, located at the Tannery.

This edition of the Roundup compiled by Craig Daniels.

Subscribe to get the Roundup delivered to your inbox on the first Sunday of each month."