Big changes

U.S. industrial giant Rockwell Automation announced plans to acquire Kitchener-based Clearpath Robotics and its fast-growing affiliate, OTTO Motors.

Terms of the deal were not released, and Milwaukee-based Rockwell did not comment on how the acquisition would affect Clearpath’s operations in Kitchener.

Clearpath was founded in 2009 by four University of Waterloo engineering students, originally for the purpose of using robots to “clear a path” through minefields. In 2015, Clearpath created OTTO Motors to focus on building autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for moving material around manufacturing and warehouse settings.

In other news, Kitchener-based D2L (TSX:DTOL) is making a push into the corporate-learning market with the unveiling of a new platform that offers one-stop shopping for businesses looking to upgrade the skills of their employees.

CEO and founder John Baker said he expects D2L for Business to be “transformative” for corporate clients and for D2L itself. 

Baker started the learning-tech company in 1999 while he was still a systems design engineering student at UW. Today, D2L boasts 1,240 customers in 40 countries. The vast majority of customers – 80 per cent – are in the education space, from kindergarten to colleges and universities. 

Innovation match-making

Communitech’s Fast Track team has been busy executing on an “integrated markets” strategy, which uses ecosystem engagement to connect Canadian tech leaders with potential customers to drive the adoption of made-in-Canada innovations.

In mid-September, the Communitech-led Fast Track Health collaborative held a showcase event that featured 10 Canadian tech companies pitching their solutions to a set of health-care challenges, which were identified by partners in the health-care sector. The event drew more than 90 attendees and highlighted the potential of data and technology to revolutionize health care.

Later in the month, the Fast Track Cities collaborative launched a call for solutions that invites Canadian tech companies to propose solutions to a set of transportation and supply chain challenges that have far-reaching implications for cities, communities and the economy.

Fierce Founders

As Communitech’s Fierce Founders program approaches its 10th anniversary, writer Suhani Saigal tells us about the origins and aims of this popular program, which provides support to women and non-binary founders.

Saigal also tells us about Fierce Founders graduate Rachel Drew, who launched a startup called Cadence in 2020 to help people navigate estate-management after the loss of a friend or family member.

The Cadence story is one in a series of Fierce Founder profiles that we’ll be running over the coming months. For more, check out Communitech’s Tech News webpage.

Bacon ’n eggs and networking

​​Communitech’s popular breakfast series featured two founders in September. 

Bidmii CEO Jon Christensen spoke about his journey from the world of food and beverage to becoming the head of Bidmii, a renovation marketplace. And Vambora Chief Strategy Officer Mark Dickens shared his journey as a fintech founder. 

Check out both their stories on Tech News.

Register now for our next Communitech breakfast, which takes place Oct. 5 and features OpenText Chair Tom Jenkins and Ingenyewity Inc. founder and CEO Maria Plummer.

Elevate Festival

Waterloo Region was well-represented at the recent Elevate Festival in Toronto.

Communitech Chief Strategy Officer Joel Semeniuk spoke on a panel that urged founders to leverage the resources available in tech ecosystems. He also did an interview with the Canadian Press about AI regulation, which ran in the Globe and Mail and elsewhere. 

Other Waterloo Region tech leaders who spoke on panels include Meti Basiri, co-founder and CEO of Applyboard, Kurtis McBride, CEO of Miovision, Ali Asaria, founder and CEO of Tulip, and venture capitalist Janet Bannister, a former Communitech board member, among others.

Founder retreat

Communitech’s annual Founder Retreat was another great success. More than 40 early-scale founders made time in their busy schedules to gather at the Tim Hortons Camp near St. George for some great mentoring, peer-to-peer learning and reflection. Special shout out to partners and supporters Invest Ottawa, MaRS and FedDev Ontario!

Speaking of Communitech members, our Annual Meeting attracted a packed house. Board Chair Catherine Graham and CEO Chris Albinson provided the organization’s financial highlights, shared our many wins from the past year and provided an outlook for the year ahead. Check out the Annual Report online and enjoy a gallery of photos from the event.

Other News

  • Researchers at Waterloo-based cybersecurity company eSentire are warning organizations to lock down their Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tools and remote access software as the notorious LockBit gang uses them to spread ransomware and hide in plain sight.
  • New research by Waterloo-based Auvik Networks and Enterprise Management Associates found that the ongoing shift to hybrid and remote work has resulted in key changes to the roles and priorities of network administrators.
  • Waterloo-based Mappedin announced the debut of Mappedin Maker, a free application within Mappedin's indoor mapping platform.