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Introducing the Hardware Catalyst Initiative

August 29, 2019

The Hardware Catalyst Initiative 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.

We’re delighted to officially launch the Hardware Catalyst Initiative! 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. 

On October 1, we’ll be launching our first call for applications, and will be accepting 3-5 companies into the Winter 2020 program.

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 the 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 www.venturelab.ca/HCI, or sign up for our email newsletter.

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