Hardware Catalyst Initiative Applications Open

October 1, 2019

Applications for the Hardware Catalyst Initiative have officially opened. Read on!

We’re delighted to announce that applications for the Hardware Catalyst Initiative have officially opened! On June 27, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, announced FedDev Ontario’s $5 million investment into ventureLAB for the development of the Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI), Canada’s first hardware and silicon-focused lab and incubator.

Since then, we’ve been making strides to launch the HCI, like hiring industry veterans and experts to lead the development of this initiative and getting started on building the lab and expanding our expert network.

How to Apply

Applications for the first cohort of the Hardware Catalyst Initiative have officially opened. To those interested in applying, please complete the following steps:

  1. Fill in the ventureLAB client registration form available here.
    (if you are already a ventureLAB client, or have completed this form previously, please proceed to step 2)
  2. Fill in the Hardware Catalyst Initiative application form available here.
  3. Based on the Hardware Catalyst Initiative application, select ventures will be invited into ventureLAB for a review panel/assessment.

Apply by October 31, 2019, for your chance to join the inaugural cohort of the Hardware Catalyst Initiative!

Key Dates

  • October 1-31: Applications open for first cohort of companies
  • November 1-22: Evaluation period for applicants
  • Week of November 25: Announcement of successful applicants
  • January 2020: First cohort kicks off

Why a hardware and silicon lab?

A couple of years ago, together with industry and not-for-profit partners, we explored the need and feasibility of a Hardware Catalyst Initiative in Ontario. A common challenge discovered was the lack of access to expensive tools, resources, and clean rooms for SMEs building hardware and silicon technologies in Canada, as well as a significant mentorship and talent gap.

Access to expensive tools, equipment and resources is the top challenge hardware companies face in growing and scaling in Canada. On average, a design license for a small startup team ranges from $50K to $75K per seat, per year, and available through only two companies. The HCI would give companies access to the equipment and industry expertise to accelerate time to market, and significantly reduce costs of market entry and commercialization for hardware SMEs.

This competitive program will support tech companies that build foundational technologies that support transformative sectors like AI, quantum computing, 5G, IoT, UAV, virtual reality, and beyond. Over the next five years, the HCI will support up to 40 companies, create over 200 jobs, and commercialize 15 new products and technologies. Based in York Region, Canada’s second-largest tech cluster, the HCI will help southern Ontario-based tech SMEs accelerate their time to market in a sector that normally incurs lengthy entry and scale times, enabling Canadian hardware and silicon companies to grow and scale locally, and compete globally.

York Region’s existing strong deep tech ecosystem includes hardware design leaders such as AMD, IBM, Celestica, and Synopsys, and is also home to emerging prototyping and testing companies that are hardware-focused, including MicroArt and Creation Technologies.

To learn more about the Hardware Catalyst Initiative, visit, sign up for our email newsletter, or contact

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