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The British are coming (again): U.K. manufacturing startups aim to make it in Canada

MaRS has partnered with Innovate UK to launch its second cohort of promising advanced-manufacturing startups towards North American expansion.

Another British invasion is afoot. But this time the Brits aren’t hoping to wow us with their music. They want to win us over with their manufacturing prowess.

MaRS has partnered with Innovate UK, an economic development agency, to support seven British companies as they expand into the North American market. Over six months, the firms — which do everything from build self-driving vehicles to create software for correctly sizing clothes — will attend workshops and receive advisory support to sharpen their value propositions. They will also tour Toronto and Montreal to meet with MaRS partners such as NGen, which leads Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, and design company Autodesk.

“Ontario has incredible expertise in advanced manufacturing that these companies will be able to draw on,” says Morgan Lorimer, manager of accelerator programs at MaRS. “Our aim is to help these firms better understand the North American market and create partnerships with local organizations to enable them to expand to Canada to bring their innovations here.”

This is the second time MaRS and Innovate UK have run this program. Last year’s cohort saw several successes. Muddy Machines, which manufactures a robotic asparagus harvester, secured £1.5 million in seed funding with Calgary-based Thrive by SVG Ventures participating in the round. Meanwhile, Rivelin Robotics, which makes robots for metal manufacturing, sold a demonstrator unit to a major potential customer and Loop Technology, which makes entire suites of machines to help manufacturers improve efficiency, began to expand its focus beyond aerospace as a result of discussions around broader opportunities during the program.

“We introduced our first cohort to dozens of Canadian organizations and these connections will continue to bear fruit over the next few years,” says Lorimer. “We’re impressed with the calibre of companies interested in working with MaRS to explore the North American market and can’t wait to integrate them into the ecosystem for shared learning with our network of local startups.”

Meet the seven startups that will be bringing British innovations to Canada this fall.


Autonomous Enterprise Management Systems takes project management beyond human capabilities

AEMS is a Cambridge University spinout developing the world’s first AI-assisted project management software. Its innovative features include the ability to predict knock-on effects of decisions and real-time project monitoring that flags when things are starting to go awry. The product is still in development, but its beta-stage clients include GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Jaguar.


Bodi.Me is taking the guess work out of buying clothes

Bodi.Me has developed garment-size recommendation software for the clothing industry. It uses AI and data based on 3D body scans and models to determine sizing with just a few clicks. Bodi.Me says its technology reduces waste and returns. The company is currently working with the fashion technology company Gerber to integrate its Size-Me tool into its Accumark software.


CAE Tech makes ‘made-to-order’ simple

Anything custom or customizable, from a wheelchair to cabinetry, can become a self-service purchase with CAE Tech’s web-based 3D software. Using a graphical interface, users can adjust factors like sizes, shapes, materials and colours, and the software will calculate how this impacts the product’s performance and cost. The technology then sends out the precise information manufacturers need for production and to manage their inventories of necessary materials.


Go Monitor helps manufacturers track their processes 

The complexity of modern industrial processes makes optimizing them a mind-boggling task. Go Monitor installs networks of sensors and other industrial-internet-of-things devices to help manufacturers gather data on factors like energy use, machine performance and location of parts and raw materials. It sends the data to the cloud, where it can be analyzed for productivity, efficiency, energy management and safety.


Performance Projects makes electric vehicles for niche markets

From a solar-powered taxi that’s reminiscent of a giant hamster wheel to a self-driving tractor and an all-electric ice cream van, there is almost no vehicle that Performance Projects can’t reimagine. The company is pushing electric vehicles beyond city streets and onto racetracks and farms. It will soon be testing GoFAR, a tough little robot designed for continuous operation in rugged environments. Among the uses envisioned for the metre-long vehicle are moving soft fruit harvests around farms and acting as a platform for other robotic implements.


Raplas Technologies opens the door to unlimited 3D manufacturing

Manufacturers of home printers long ago realized there was a profit in making it difficult for their customers to go elsewhere for replacement ink. Companies making 3D printers are using the same strategy by tying buyers to specific resins and materials. But Raplas Technologies has created open and flexible 3D printing systems that don’t force customers to use particular sources or brands of materials. These printers are built from the ground up for high-performance productivity and customization and even meet U.S. military security standards.


Synbiosys speeds adoption of next-generation manufacturing materials and technologies

Advanced new materials are opening the door to a wide range of new products in industries like energy and aerospace. But it can take hundreds of tests to ensure components are up to spec. Synbiosys’ Validation Platform simplifies the task by using AI to reduce the number of tests needed to provide a complete understanding of a material and so accelerate the manufacturing process.

Leaders of these companies will be visiting Toronto between Nov. 5 and 11. If you are interested in meeting them, please email us at [email protected]

MaRS Discovery District
MaRS is the world's largest urban innovation hub in Toronto that supports startups in the health, cleantech, fintech, and enterprise sectors. When MaRS opened in 2005 this concept of urban innovation was an untested theory. Today, it’s reshaping cities around the world. MaRS has been at the forefront of a wave of change that extends from Melbourne to Amsterdam and runs through San Francisco, London, Medellín, Los Angeles, Paris and New York. These global cities are now striving to create what we have in Toronto: a dense innovation district that co-locates universities, startups, corporates and investors. In this increasingly competitive landscape, scale matters more than ever – the best talent is attracted to the brightest innovation hotspots.

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