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ventureLAB Receives $4.73M in FedDev Ontario Funding to Expand Canada’s First Hardware Lab and Incubator, Catapulting Canadian Tech Founders to the Global Stage

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ventureLAB announces Hardware Catalyst Initiative Advisory Board

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About HCI

ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative is Canada’s only lab and incubator for founders building hardware and semiconductor-focused products. Funded in part by the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), this competitive program enables tech companies building foundational technologies in transformative sectors like AI, clean tech, IoT, and beyond, to accelerate their time to market in a sector that normally incurs lengthy entry and scale times. The Hardware Catalyst enables the creation of transformative technologies that will power the products of tomorrow — including healthcare technology, consumer electronics, telecommunications, smart energy, connected transportation, and more.

Quickly growing its reputation as Canada’s Hardware Hub, the Hardware Catalyst enables ventures to become competitive players in the global semiconductor industry — an industry that generates $7 trillion in economic activity and creates 4.89 indirect new jobs for every one semiconductor job.


Prototype Lab


Indirect jobs are created for every 1 semiconductor job created


in total GDP created by the semiconductor industry


Increase in chip equipment spending in 2020


“When the Hardware Catalyst Initiative team first announced its mission, it sounded like quite a challenge as the first program of its kind in Canada. But the program’s success was inevitable. This hardworking team has laid out clear objectives, established partnerships with the top tech companies in the region, and set up a facility with state-of-the-art technologies. It has been a pleasure working with ventureLAB, a team that is both professional and personable.”


Denis Jacques, President & CEO, Keysight Technologies Canada Inc.

“The Hardware Catalyst Initiative has provided WST with significant benefits. Having access to the latest test equipment through the HCI Lab has accelerated our prototype and product development and allowed us to troubleshoot and test our hardware design reliably and efficiently. The team has been a pleasure to work with, contributed their expertise on ESD and testing methodology, and is readily available to address our questions.”


John Tryhub, Vice President, Wind Shape Technology Inc.

“ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative team has great expertise in hardware development, manufacturing, deployment, and more. They have strong industry expertise and a large hardware network to connect us with key partners and customers. The program has guided us through the electronics and hardware industry in ways we would never have considered – and to the benefit of our team and product.”


Nic Boileau, President & CEO, Ekidna Sensing

“The Hardware Catalyst Initiative program has given us invaluable guidance, networking opportunities, and resources, which have dramatically enhanced our road to success. The opportunity to collaborate with the ventureLAB team and partners has helped our team learn and grow. I highly recommend the program to anyone who wants an edge on the competition.”


Patricia Copeland, President, Humantec Inc.

“The Hardware Catalyst Initiative is exactly what we needed: industry-specific mentorship, connections to the necessary partners in a semiconductor supply chain, and access to a state-of-the-art lab to support our product development. Joining the program was a major step forward for our company.”


Brendan Crowley, Co-Founder & CEO, Micromensio Inc.

“Synopsys is a proud partner of ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative, and we are excited to see the expansion of this program to include additional cohorts. After successfully engaging with existing companies that are part of this initiative, we are eager to help new companies joining the HCI by supplying Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tools and expertise so they can realize their potential. We look forward to further supporting this important partnership with ventureLAB and Canadian high-tech companies.”


Mario Dorio, Director, North America Sales, Synopsys

“The Hardware Catalyst Initiative team has been an invaluable resource throughout our journey. The ventureLAB advisors are always available to share the wealth of their experience, and it has been fantastic working with them this past year. I would highly recommend the program to any hardware company looking to scale their business.”


Joseph Ma, CEO, Bionic-i Inc.

“Silicon development places a significant financial burden on start-ups. The Hardware Catalyst Initiative introduced us to partners who have helped to reduce our initial capital spend, allowing us to grow and raise funding with more ease.”


John Gosson, Founder & CTO, Blumind.ai

The Ontario Innovation Corridor

Canada is a leader for creating and scaling IP-rich semiconductor and hardware companies and a magnet for home-grown and global talent. Our location is based in York Region, Canada’s second-largest tech cluster, home to an ecosystem of global tech leaders, homegrown leaders, and 400+ global multinational companies. More than 4,300 tech companies that employ over 60,000 people call York Region home, the highest concentration of tech workers in Ontario’s Innovation Corridor. The importance of the Hardware Catalyst is significant: it enables the creation of a tech cluster of companies, here in Canada, to become global competitors for the $7 trillion global semiconductor market.

Accelerating Commercialization

We’ve built a team and network that leverages decades of industry experience in building IP-rich companies and commercializing transformational products, to give unbiased support to founders in this program. They get access to our growing global network and comprehensive support services.

  • Prototyping and testing facilities
  • Hardware and silicon development
  • Intellectual property (IP) protection
  • Market development
  • Supply chain management
  • Product environmental compliance
  • Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) compliance
  • Capital financing


Explore the Program

We understand that hardware founders experience unique challenges and have a finite amount of capital and time to bring their vision to reality. The Hardware Catalyst Initiative is a competitive program that is offered at no cost and no equity requirement to eligible companies. The Hardware Catalyst Initiative provides direct resources to accelerate commercialization at scale through our initiatives focused on four pillars: raising capital, retaining talent, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition.

  • 24/7 access to the in-house prototyping and testing lab with state-of-the-art specialized equipment
  • Access to highly experienced hardware and semiconductor development experts
  • Dedicated advisory team 
  • Specialized support for intellectual property (IP) protection, market development, purchase and supply contracts
  • Support through the Capital Investment Program to identify potential public and private funding opportunities
  • Access to Market Intelligence and premium reports from top-tier research firms
  • Premium access to curated educational programming and exclusive partner 1-on-1s
  • Free workspace (up to 2 spots per team) at ventureLAB’s Innovation Space
  • Access to ventureLAB’s Alumni Network, which connects graduated ventureLAB founders from across the tech ecosystem to resources, networks, and opportunities


  • Company was founded within 5 years immediately preceding the application
  • Company earned less than $5M in revenue in last 12 months
  • Developed or are developing a novel semiconductor and sensor product, silicon-based IP or an embedded hardware product
  • Company is incorporated in Canada
  • You have a CRA business number
  • Have 99 or fewer employees
  • If you are not located in Southern Ontario, you plan to establish a long-term presence in Southern Ontario


April 15 – May 17, 2021: Application period for HCI Cohort 3*

May – June 2021: Evaluation period for HCI Cohort 3

July 15, 2021: All candidates will be notified of their application status

August 2021: Program starts


*Applications are now closed. 



The Hardware Catalyst Initiative continues to grow every year, and it is part of our vision to create a globally recognized hub in commercializing breakthrough products and growth companies on a global scale with a focus on hardware and enterprise software. It currently includes a dynamic community of 16 startup companies and a growing global network of emerging and industry leaders that include engineers, developers, manufacturers, and founders.


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Meet the Third Hardware Catalyst Initiative Cohort

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EPIC Semiconductors has developed a microscopic AI sensor chip called SMART DUST: A battery-free, energy-harvesting sensor with an integrated pre-quantum superposition processor and AI that communicates wirelessly with the Cloud.

Just Vertical is an indoor vertical hydroponic company that creates furniture that feeds you. They created the AEVA, a modern indoor hydroponic garden system that brings fresh, nutritious sustainable food to your home, while eliminating food waste.

Lemurian Labs develops disruptive, ultra low-powered inner-product architecture to make deep learning and computer vision applications on the edge sustainable by reducing energy consumption, and decreasing heat generated through chip processing.

NURO Corp is the manufacturer of NUOS, the Neural Operating System. NUOS allows instant communication and full-scale computing by brain signals without surgery.

Pontosense’s mission is to enable everyday devices with powerful and user-friendly smart home technology accessible to people around the world. WISe accurately measures heartbeats and breath rates without wearables. Integrations span many industries, empowering everyday products through health and biometrics measurement.

RockMass Technologies is a mining technology company that was founded in 2016. They provide hardware and software data collection and management tools to record, generate, and process accurate geotechnical information. Their solutions increase productivity, reduce cost and time by automating processes, and improve efficiency and safety of operations.

TITAN Haptics develops advanced haptic motors for smartphones, consoles and touchscreen devices. Based on a solid-state magnetic suspension, TITAN’s patented Linear Magnetic Ram (LMR) technology offers a console-like experience in smaller devices, key for delivering virtual buttons and AAA-gaming on portable devices.

Meet the Second Hardware Catalyst Initiative Cohort

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Weavair: Weavair is an end-to-end solution for air distribution systems that prevents the spread of contamination and infection, while reducing operational and maintenance costs.

Low Power Futures: Low Power Futures provides the most complete Silicon IP Platforms for the next generation of IoT devices with highly integrated, secure, and ai-enabled IP Platforms designed for ultra-low power consumption.

Scope Photonics: Scope builds tunable lenses that bring high quality optical zoom to a compact form factor, for use in smartphone cameras, depth sensors, microscopes, and more.

Qoherent: Qoherent helps engineers harness the power of machine learning and quantum computing through a platform created to rapidly design, prototype, and deploy machine learning solutions for RF communications design problems.

Braze Mobility: Braze Mobility provides an affordable navigation solution for wheelchair users through intuitive audio, visual and vibration alerts to the wheelchair driver.

Hyivy Health: Hyivy Health creates the first intelligent and holistic pelvic rehabilitation device for women experiencing symptoms from pelvic cancers and diseases with their modular device.

Urban Stalk: Urban Stalk Inc. is an agri-science based organization with the core mission to reduce food insecurity for at risk and urban populations along with reduce the negative environmental impacts that originate from agricultural activity

Enertics: Enertics provides an early health monitoring, diagnostics and predictive maintenance solution of electrical assets, used by industrial and utility customers, with a goal to maximize their life and to minimize the unplanned downtime and associated costs.

Meet the inaugural Hardware Catalyst Initiative Cohort

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Bionic-i: A hardware biotechnology company focused on augmenting vision and combating blindness with a surgically implantable breakthrough device that can treat and monitor a genetic disease.

BluMind.AI: A fabless semiconductor start-up with deep expertise in AI, semiconductor and automotive technologies, applying unique analog concepts to machine learning inferencing to dramatically lower power consumption and latency.

Cyberworks Robotics

Cyberworks Robotics: A developer of Autonomous Self-Driving Software for non-automotive vehicles.

Ekidna Sensing: Ekidna sensing provides rapid, simple to operate, and on-demand cannabinoid testing for the growing cannabis industry, solving a pressing need for simplified testing.


Humantec Inc.: Manufactures and markets the Menopod, a handheld electronic cooling device for women suffering from hot flashes brought on by menopause.

Micromensio Inc.

Micromensio: Micromensio is a fabless semiconductor company with a unique, portable, platform bio/chemical sensing solution.


Tartan AI: A hardware/firmware company targeting optimizations for machine learning workloads, offering processing elements and transparent memory compression technologies.

Wind Shape Technology

Wind Shape Technology Inc.: A Canadian technology company dedicated to finding solutions to safe and sustainable water use with the aim to promote conservation and health.


The growing global network of ventureLAB Hardware Catalyst Initiative partners recognizes the unique opportunity and role for Canada as a valuable player in the global semiconductor supply chain. It demonstrates a unique public-private partnership that has both local and global impacts. 


Advisory Board

The Advisory Board for the Hardware Catalyst Initiative helps shape our long-term strategy to secure Canada’s position as a global leader in creating and commercializing semiconductor and hardware-related technologies and pioneering innovations.

Julia Elvidge

Past President and Co-founder, Chipworks

Niraj Mathur

President, Coreus Technologies Inc.

Richard Dasher

Director, US-Asia Technology Management Center and Adjunct Professor, Stanford University

Warren Ali

Senior Vice President, Innovation, Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA)


Have a question?

Contact our HCI team at hci@venturelab.ca.

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