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Roundup for November 2023 – Communitech

Securing investment

The cybersecurity business continues to be a safe bet for investors – and companies in Waterloo Region are reaping the benefits.

Kitchener-based cybersecurity startup Cavelo announced a raise of CDN$5 million in venture capital in November. The raise was led by Canadian VC firm Inovia Capital with participation from existing investors. It follows a pre-seed raise of CDN$1.3 million back when the startup launched in early 2021.

“Cavelo represents the future of cybersecurity investments,” said Taha Mubashir, Principal at Inovia Capital. “Despite continued market headwinds, Cavelo is driving significant growth through its customer-first approach and commitment to attack surface management innovation.”

Pension power

A lot of Canadian tech leaders – including Communitech – were pleased to hear the federal government say in its fall economic statement that it will urge Canadian pension funds to invest more of their assets in Canadian companies. 

The topic was a key theme in a Senate report on the need for a Canadian data strategy, released this past June.

“Witnesses collectively emphasized that pension funds have a crucial role to play in addressing low business investment and promoting innovation in Canada,” the report states. “They argued that pension funds should invest more in Canadian businesses, particularly in innovative Canadian start-ups.”

Elevating IP

That same Senate report also mentioned the links between intellectual property, innovation and economic prosperity.

Communitech was awarded $38 million in federal funds in late 2022 to help deliver ElevateIP, a federally funded program that helps startups protect and leverage their intellectual property.

This past month, Communitech and partners Invest Ottawa and North Forge hosted a virtual event to launch ElevateIP services in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

For more information about the program, check out our ElevateIP webpage.

Fostering innovation

Multimodal trip-planning startup RideShark swam away with $25,000 in prize money at a Communitech-led Fast Track Cities Showcase.

The event featured five Canadian technology companies presenting solutions to a set of transportation and supply chain challenges that have far-reaching implications for cities, communities and the economy.

Communitech’s Fast Track initiative aims to bring Canadian founders and stakeholders together to identify industry-specific challenges and develop innovative, made-in-Canada solutions.

In a related program, Communitech worked with the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI) and the Ukrainian Startup Fund (USF) to co-organize the Canada Ukraine Innovation Challenge (CUSIC).

Five tech companies from Canada and five from Ukraine were chosen through an adjudication process to propose innovative solutions to a number of national-security challenges, such as data and infrastructure protection.

The 10 companies pitched their solutions to an audience of industry leaders, investors and national-security stakeholders during a virtual showcase event in November.

“The goal is to connect innovative startups from both countries with potential stakeholders within each nation's ecosystem,” OCI President and CEO Claudia Krywiak said.

Good AI

Artificial intelligence is evolving so rapidly that companies and governments face a real dilemma: Sit on the sidelines until the risks have been managed or jump in now and adapt as you go?

It’s a widespread concern that surfaced repeatedly at a national conference in Ottawa sponsored by Communitech and Google Cloud. The daylong event – called Data Effects Ottawa: Canada’s AI Future – attracted more than 100 participants from industry, academia and government. Check out the Tech News story as well as Communitech’s Good AI initiatives.

Quantum, too 

While AI has dominated the news over the past year, a group of prominent Canadian scientists issued a report in November that outlines a responsible approach to quantum-technology adoption.

The report, produced by an expert panel chaired by University of Waterloo quantum scientist Ray Laflamme, “outlines a responsible approach to quantum-technology adoption – a critical step toward ensuring Canada’s global competitiveness in the decades ahead.”

“Quantum technologies are poised to play a major role in Canada’s future, from its national security to its economic standing,” Laflamme said. “As quantum technologies emerge, it’s essential to think carefully about how policy should shape their adoption by end users – and how Canada might best navigate the accompanying challenges and opportunities.”

Taking flight

Medtech startup Rocket Doctor hit significant milestones in recent months, including securing a spot in the UCLA Health TechQuity Accelerator, winning the MedStartr VC pitch contest during NY Tech Week and surpassing 300,000 virtual patient visits. 

The company, launched in 2020, acts as a platform for doctors to establish independent virtual care practices, offering an online marketplace approach similar to "Shopify for physicians."

Meanwhile, Kitchener edtech company Forward Education announced a partnership with Let's Talk Science to bring climate change education to Canadian K-12 classrooms. 

CEO and serial entrepreneur Jeremy Hedges is enthusiastic about expanding their "climate action kits," which use Lego-like blocks and sensors for hands-on learning. 

The collaboration with Let’s Talk Science aims to distribute over 1,000 kits to students, promoting coding and robotics in regular science classes, marking a significant step for Forward Education in reaching 100,000 schools globally.

Speaking of founders, check out the Tech News profile of Serese Selanders, CEO and founder of SolusGuard and a participant in Communitech’s Fierce Founders programming.

Also in November, five companies from Waterloo Region featured in Deloitte Canada's Technology Fast 50 rankings. Read the story.

Navigating uncertainty

Communitech brought Whistler-based entrepreneur and leadership coach Shannon Susko to Kitchener for a breakfast event and workshop with founders.

The author and athlete shared the core elements of her “metronomics” and 3HAG approach to growing a company. Both involve setting a clear three-year strategy and a commitment to building an “A player” leadership team that’s aligned and dedicated to success, Susko said.

Global opportunities

Communitech Outposts wrapped up a four-part Global Growth series designed to help founders learn how to expand their business into foreign markets including the U.S., Europe, Central/South America and the Asia-Pacific region. 

“By exposing attendees to these insights, we aim to boost their confidence and broaden their perspective on the vast global market landscape, especially in comparison to Canada's relatively smaller market,” said Karen Klink, Director of Channel Partners and Founder Success at Communitech Outposts. Read more about the final session. 

This edition of the Roundup compiled by Kevin Crowley and Suhani Saigal. Sign up to receive the Roundup each month by visiting communitech.ca/technews and scrolling to the bottom of the page.

"Communitech helps tech-driven companies start, grow and succeed. Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to making Waterloo Region a global innovation leader. At the time it was crazy talk, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1400 companies — from startups to scale-ups to large global players. Communitech helps tech companies start, grow and succeed in three distinct ways: - Communitech is a place – the center of gravity for entrepreneurs and innovators. A clubhouse for building cool shit and great companies. - Communitech delivers programs – helping companies at all stages with access to capital, customers and talent. We are here to help them grow and innovate. - Communitech partners in building a world-leading ecosystem – making sure we have all the ingredients (and the brand) to go from a small startup to a global giant."

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