Thank you for attending ventureLAB’s HardTech Conference on June 22 & 23, 2021. HardTech is Canada’s premiere hardware technology-focused conference, featuring prominent thought leaders in the tech ecosystem that are creating transformative experiences for those around the world. Hosted by ventureLAB in partnership with the Regional Municipality of York, our mission is to emphasize the importance of hardware technology and the impact it has on our globe


We hope that you found the conference informative and worthwhile. This year, we focused on how we can put Canada on the map for hardware and semiconductor innovation. Our diverse and dynamic group of speakers provided incredible insight into hardware and semiconductor technology, the impact that the global chip shortage has had on innovation, and entrepreneurial journeys and the challenges that come with scaling.


Didn’t get to attend HardTech? Watch the videos on-demand in the drop-down menus below.



Already looking forward to next year’s conference? Stay tuned for details through our newsletter.


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HardTech On-Demand Videos

Keynote Panel Discussion – “The Evolution of Hardware Technology”

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As technology becomes more intelligent, the demand for chips that power our devices continues to surge. 2021 began with manufacturers around the world sounding the alarm about a global chip shortage, and in Canada, we’re already seeing the impacts in consumer electronics supply and automotive production slow-down. For us to truly understand today’s market, we need to look at the evolution of technology and examine the increasingly important role that hardware plays. 


Meet our speakers:

Kevin O’Neil 

Corporate VP, AMD Canada 

Kevin O’Neil is responsible for AMD’s global intellectual property and licensing programs and AMD Canada’s government and university relationships. Kevin has been with AMD (and its predecessor, for more than 15 years. Primary amongst his roles with AMD is to capture, protect and manage AMD’s global patent portfolio and the strategic use of this valuable global portfolio. Prior to joining AMD in 2004, Kevin held positions in the private practice of law with two prominent Toronto law firms and as in-house counsel with IBM. While at IBM, Kevin was responsible for the patent portfolio for IBM’s DB2 database and Websphere middleware software products and the monetization of this portfolio.


Jamie Dinsmore 

VP and Country Manager, Siemens Digital Industries Software

Jamie Dinsmore is the Vice President and Country Manager of Siemens Digital Industries Software and is responsible for leading the Canadian software organization. Jamie also serves as President and CEO of Siemens Industries Software ULC (Canada); and CEO of Mentor Graphics (Canada) ULC.

Jamie is passionate about helping and mentoring children. He is actively involved with Smilezone and the Lighthouse for Grieving Children. He previously served as Vice Chair for the Peel Children’s Aid Foundation and as a coach for boys’ hockey.

Panel Discussion – “Inspiring the Next Generation of Tech Titans”

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Navigating complex, unprecedented and sometimes unpredictable challenges is the very nature of building and scaling a company, often filled with hard decisions, visionary transformation and robust personal and professional growth. For founders, sharing struggles is just as important as sharing wins. 


Meet our speakers:


Julie Angus Julie Angus 

Co-founder and CEO, Open Oceans Robotics 

Julie is the CEO and cofounder of Open Ocean Robotics, a marine robotics and data analytics company. She is a bestselling author, scientist and explorer who received National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year award when she became the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean from mainland to mainland. She is a keynote speaker who has inspired hundreds of corporate audiences sharing lessons in leadership, teamwork and overcoming challenges. Julie has written three books, has a graduate degree in microbiology and is a serial entrepreneur who cofounded two previous ocean-focused businesses. In 2020 she was awarded Innovator of the Year by BC Business and in 2021 she was recognized as Industry Icon by the BC Cleantech Industry.

Linda Zadeh  

Linda Zadeh 

Founder and CEO, EPIC Semiconductors

Linda is the visionary founder and CEO of EPIC Semiconductors. With her profound knowledge in biomedical engineering (MSc from SFU) and a passion to be at the spearhead for Next-Gen Innovations, Linda has dedicated her life to invent nano sized self-powered (battery-free) semiconductors that can “feel, think, learn, and respond” to any changes in the environment. Her endeavour is on the way to lead the “pre-quantum age” as she found new ways to use “electron-entanglement” to wirelessly power- and communicate with printable and flexible (hybrid) circuits. Starting from zero and a decade of intensive self-financed R&D, Linda’s outstanding technology is valued more than $700M and has secured over 20 granted patents. She has earned the respect of Fortune 500 leaders on a global scale and successfully has established international cooperations.


Raymond Minato 

President and Founder, Inertia Product Development

Ray Minato is an accomplished mechanical engineer, leader, and entrepreneur on a mission to build world-class product innovation, design, and manufacturing teams who deliver outstanding products and customer experiences. With a career now spanning over 25 years, Ray is constantly learning and adjusting course. Ray created his own exciting entrepreneurial journey with the founding of Inertia in 2004. Recently recognized as the #1 Best Place to Work in Canada, and one of Canada’s fastest growing companies, Ray leads an outstanding team at Inertia Product Development, a global hardware-product innovation, design, and manufacturing consultancy with offices in Toronto and Guangzhou, works with start-ups to multinationals across a wide range of industries spanning medical devices, agricultural robotics, internet-connected home products, and high-tech sporting equipment. Inertia partners with those companies to innovate, design, engineer, manufacture, and sometimes invest in – not just what the world needs, but what will make life easier, and what makes us smile.

Panel Discussion – “Hardware Breakthroughs: Powering the Products of Tomorrow”

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The Hardware Catalyst Initiative was born out of the increasing demand in hardware and semiconductor technologies. These foundational technologies power our products of tomorrow — from smartphones to electric vehicles to agri-tech equipment and beyond. Join our Hardware Catalyst founders as they showcase the groundbreaking products they’ve been building since they joined the Hardware Catalyst Initiative last year. 


Meet our speakers:


Rachel Bartholomew

Founder and CEO, Hyivy Health 

Rachel Bartholomew has been involved in the Canadian start up community for the past 8 years working in various roles in small businesses, venture capital, innovation labs and ecosystem partners. She currently working on her second business, HyIvy Health, focused creating a medical device for women with pelvic based cancers and diseases. Her involvement and dedication to the health care community came from her recent cancer diagnosis and her passion and motivation to help improve the health care industry for patients and practitioners alike.


Dr. Joseph Ma

CEO, Bionic-i 

Dr. Ma has been involved in helping to pioneer and set new standards to improve procedures to achieve both the safest and the best patient outcomes. In 2002, Dr. Ma was one of the first to begin using Femtosecond Lasers for Laser Vision Correction surgery, and then for Intraocular Surgery, and subsequently for Refractive Cataract Surgery, work that has been presented internationally. Dr. Ma presents and teaches regularly at major professional ophthalmic conferences worldwide, and has received many academic awards.


Abdoulaye Berthe

Founder and CEO, Low Power Futures

Dr. Berthe has a Ph. D. in Wireless Communication with more than 8 years of industry experience in the field of wireless communication and embedded systems. During his MS and Ph. D research, he investigated medium access control and physical layer optimization for low power consumption Wireless Sensor Networks and high data rate short-range wireless networks operating in the ISM band around 60 GHz. His industry experience includes working with companies such as Intel, Sony Mobile Communication and AMD.

2021 HardTech Pitch Competition

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ventureLAB partnered with the Regional Municipality of York, Siemens Digital Industries, AMD, Inertia Product Development, Dena Technologies, and MicroArt Services Inc. to provide small businesses developing hardware and semiconductor-focused products the opportunity to showcase their solution. 


Eight finalists battled it out in front of a live audience and an incredible judges panel for over $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizing. 


Check out our 2021 HardTech Pitch Competition winners here.


HardTech Pitch Competition

HardTech Pitch Competition Awards Ceremony 

Breakout Session – “Modernizing our Healthcare for Today's Needs”

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At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a mad dash to secure Personal Protective Equipment and life-saving equipment like ventilators. In Canada, this global competition exacerbated gaps in our supply chain as countries around the world fought to protect their citizens by producing or securing sensors required in ventilators and other critical medical devices.

Breakout Session – “Powering the Vehicles of the Future”

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By 2030, electronic systems will account for 50% of the total cost of the average car. As electric vehicles become more the norm and autonomous transportation integrates into society, Canada must take a leading role in producing some of the electronic components like electric batteries, chips, and sensors, rather than just assembling vehicles.

Breakout Session – “Revolutionary Technologies Shaking Up the Agriculture Industry”

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Traditional industries like agriculture play an important role in Canada’s economic prosperity. As traditional industries digitize and modernize, technologies like hardware and semiconductors are becoming increasingly important, and can even address global challenges like food supply.

HardTech Speakers

2021 Pitch Competition Winners

First Place: RockMass Technologies

RockMass is a Toronto-based mining technology company that started in 2016. The Axis Mapper is a LiDAR-based mobile data collection solution that uses point cloud data to determine and digitally record structural orientation measurements in real time. The Axis Mapper improves safety, increases productivity, and saves time, while reducing development cycle time. 

Titan Haptics

Second Place: TITAN Haptics

TITAN Haptics is a haptics company developing next-generation wideband HD motors called LMRs. Instead of springs or flexures, the motor uses a floating magnetic array with 1 moving part, providing superior durability, and wide frequency response and new effects.

Third Place: Cyberworks

Cyberworks has developed a vehicle agnostic autonomous navigation technology platform for third party commercial equipment. Their smart technology replaces the driver of any type of equipment that is pushed or steered, thereby mitigating labor shortages, reducing labor costs and increasing operating efficiencies for customers by redeploying employees who work with wheeled machinery.

Pitch Competition Judges

Tarun Verma Duncan Stewart Shelley Kuipers Rani Pendse Olivier Rousseaux Tony Di Benedetto
Managing Partner, Silicon Catalyst

Partner, BDC Deep Tech Fund

Founder, The51 Senior Partner Development Manager, Microsoft  Director Venture Development, imec CEO, Launch Capital


Thank you to our partners

Seneca College

HardTech offers sponsorship opportunities that are tailor-made to fit your brand, marketing objectives and budget. Our partners are displayed at the forefront of ventureLAB’s vast tech ecosystem, and connects you to a broad audience of industry leaders, innovators, investors, media, mentors and startup enthusiasts.


As a sponsor, you have the unique opportunity to support tech start-ups and entrepreneurs within Canada by providing them with access to resources and networking connections. With a focus on the journey and development of start-ups and entrepreneurs, the ventureLAB team strives to guide companies through the processes of business development with a highly-skilled and experienced team of advisors, and programming tailored to the phases of start-ups.


Contact to secure your spot as a 2022 HardTech sponsor.


We look forward to seeing you next year!


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