Putting Canada on the map for hardware innovation

Sara Mehraban

June 29, 2021

From insights on the future of hardware to a dynamic pitch competition, the HardTech Conference challenged the way we envision Canada’s role in tech innovation.

Over the past two days, the sold out HardTech Conference brought together industry leaders, tech founders, expert panelists, audiences from coast-to-coast, media personnel, government stakeholders and more. The inspiring and innovative virtual environment generated countless connections and new ideas that reflect Canada’s massive talent. Industry experts explored how Canada can capitalize on opportunities to safeguard industry supply chains and supercharge Canadian manufacturing capabilities. 

Day one set the tone for a phenomenal event. Moderated by Manjula Selvarajah, Technology Columnist for CBC Radio, The Evolution of Hardware Technology panel discussion welcomed The Honourable Minister Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Production and International Trade and MP for Markham-Thornhill, Kevin O’Neil, Corporate VP and AMD Canada Managing Director, and Jamie Dinsmore, VP and Country Manager, Siemens Digital Industries Software. The discussion centered on Canada’s opportunity to meet global market demand for hardware and semiconductors. Hardware technology are the building blocks of advanced technology and Minister Ng reassured entrepreneurs that Canada understands the importance and roles that semiconductors play in innovation.. 


“There are challenges in Canada’s innovation sector. We don’t support innovation as much as we celebrate invention.” – Tyler Whale, Ontario Agri-food Technologies 


Hardware technology intersects countless industries. The HardTech breakout sessions addressed three major sectors: healthcare, agriculture and automotive. Industry experts guided the audience through discussions that explored how Canada can capitalize on opportunities to safeguard industry supply chains and supercharge Canadian manufacturing capabilities. Agri-food Technologies President, Tyler Whale, pointed out that agriculture innovation is cleantech innovation; it contributes to Canada’s clean economy goal. Tom Conway, Director Automotive Products for Arm, pushed automotive as a global market opportunity for Canada. Katrina De Asis, Professional Engineer from NEMKO Canada Inc, stressed the importance of setting compliance standards for healthcare devices to ensure patient safety. In order for healthcare devices to succeed, companies must maintain meticulous commitment to patient safety and healthcare standards.


“Don’t just stay in your box, get out there and put [your idea] in the hands of customers.” – Julie Angus, Open Ocean Robotics


Closing the kick off day, moderator Manjula Selvarajah took the audience on a journey through the key factors for successful tech entrepreneurs with panelists Linda Zadeh, Founder and CEO, EPIC Semiconductors, Ray Minato, President and Founder, Inertia Product Development and Julie Angus, Co-founder and CEO, Open Ocean Robotics. 


Key Take-Aways:

  • Advice for new entrepreneurs: You have to not only love what you’re doing, but love how you’re building your businesses. 
  • Connecting with your network leads to connecting with markets – it’s essential when you begin to commercialize. 
  • Don’t be afraid of failing. Take it as an opportunity to change your thinking to set you up for future success.

The first day was an opportunity for entrepreneurs to gage the domestic opportunities in Canada, the needs of specific industries, and hear pro-tips from successful entrepreneurs. 

On Day Two, scaling hardware companies competed in a high-stakes pitch competition. Eight companies pitched their revolutionary products for a chance to win cash and in-kind prizes totalling over $100,000. These are our pitch competition winners:

  • RockMass, 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. 
  • TITANS 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.
  • 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.

Closing the conference was an inspiring discussion looking towards the future of hardware, featuring three founders who created their products through ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative. The founders showcased how their devices power crucial solutions. Rachel Batholowmew, Founder and CEO,  HyIvy Health joined the Hardware Catalyst Initiative with the intent to further advance her pelvic rehabilitation device. Dr. Abdoulaye Berthe, Founder and CEO, Low Power Futures, a company providing our customers with innovative, low power consumption, secure and smart IPs, and Dr. Joseph Ma, Founder and CEO, Bionic-i, a sterilization robot that eliminates indoor viral aerosols. 

The HardTech Conference was hosted by ventureLAB in partnership with the Regional Municipality of York. Get the most out of Canada’s premier hardware and semiconductor conference: watch the panel discussions, breakout sessions, and pitch competition. To make sure you don’t miss out on future events, news, and opportunities, subscribe to our weekly newsletter


About ventureLAB

ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,000 jobs and raise more than $200 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets.

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