Transformative Solutions Made in Markham – ventureLAB Launches the Hardware Catalyst Initiative

February 10, 2020

First announced in June 2019, with $5 million in funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the Hardware Catalyst Initiative is Canada’s first hardware and silicon-focused incubator, allowing breakthrough companies from southern Ontario to develop transformative hardware solutions that power the products of tomorrow, including healthcare technology, consumer electronics, telecommunications, smart energy, and connected transportation.

The Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI), Canada’s first hardware and silicon-focused lab and incubator, officially launched on February 6, 2020, with the support of the inaugural HCI cohort, founding partners, and government officials. The HCI launch was used as a platform for executives, industry experts, and more to meet face-to-face with the inaugural cohort to learn about their plans for the future utilizing the equipment and resources provided through the Hardware Catalyst Initiative, and to hear about the transformative solutions that they are developing.

The Inaugural Cohort of the HCI

The eight companies selected will use the access to specialized equipment and industry expertise to realize their ideas, bring their products to market in an accelerated fashion, and help put Canadian talent at the forefront of global innovation. Learn more about the inaugural cohort and the HCI below:

  • Bionic-i — A hardware biotechnology company focused on augmenting vision and combating blindness with a surgically implantable device that can treat and monitor an “orphan” genetic disease, as well as rejuvenate cataract surgical patients by eliminating their need for reading glasses
  • BluMind.AI — Analog machine learning inferencing; engines for network Edge devices
  • Cyberworks Robotics —AI-based technology for autonomous self-driving wheelchairs
  • Ekidna Sensing — Will provide a rapid and critical testing solution for licensed producers in the global cannabis industry
  • Humantec Inc. | Menopod — Manufactures the ‘Menopod’, a handheld electronic cooling device for women suffering from hot flashes during menopause
  • Micromensio — A semiconductor company developing a unique biosensing technology to provide transformative solutions for healthcare, the environment, and industry
  • TARTAN AI— A hardware company optimizing machine learning to offer processing elements and transparent memory compression technologies; the result is a reduction in the computation, storage, and communication needed when executing machine learning models on silicon.
  • Wind Shape Technology Inc. — Design and manufacture proximity sensors for electronic faucets

The Founding Partners of the HCI

To support the HCI, global tech leaders and emerging industry leaders from within York Region’s deep tech ecosystem (home to more than 4,300 tech companies) have committed up to $8 million in resources, expertise, and mentorship for the participating companies. Together, these founding partners will play a critical role in the success of Canada’s first silicon incubator:

  • AMD — As a global leader in high-performance computing, graphics and visualization technologies, AMD will provide business mentorship to HCI participants.
  • Synopsys — As a world leader in electronic design automation (EDA), Synopsys will offer licenses for design software and business mentorship for companies participating in the HCI.
  • Microart Services Inc. — As a leading contract electronics manufacturer with expertise in design, turn-key global procurement, assembly, and test engineering services for Printed Circuit Board Assemblies (PCBA) and full Box Build System Assemblies. Microart Services Inc. will contribute business and technical mentorship and workshops.
  • ReMAP— As an integrated shared ecosystem for the acceleration of the commercialization of electronics products, ReMAP will contribute business and technical mentorship and workshops.
  • Bereskin & Parr — As an internationally renowned intellectual property & technology law firm, Bereskin & Parr will contribute business and technical mentorship and workshops.
  • MNP — As one of Canada’s largest full-service chartered accountancy and business advisory firms, MNP will contribute business and technical mentorship and workshops.

HCI Launch Highlights

  • ventureLAB President and CEO, Melissa Chee, announced that NUVIA Inc., a leading-edge silicon design company, will be opening its first international office as a part of ventureLAB. Find out more in their news release here.
  • James Meddings, Deputy Minister, FedDev Ontario, congratulated ventureLAB on the Hardware Catalyst Initiative, made possible through their support and investment.
  • Hon. Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade praised ventureLAB for being an integral part of the City of Markham, and highlighted the economic value that the Hardware Catalyst Initiative will add to Canada.
  • Hon. Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, visited ventureLAB for the first time, and commended the team for their effort in developing and executing on this initiative.
  • Mayor Frank Scarpitti, City of Markham, welcomed and congratulated the inaugural cohort of the Hardware Catalyst Initiative.
  • Councillor Amanda Yeung Collucci, City of Markham, presented ventureLAB with a commemorative plaque congratulating the successful launch of the Hardware Catalyst Initiative.

Image Gallery:


Please direct all media inquiries to:

Justine Kintanar –
Director, External Relations & Communications


About the Hardware Catalyst Initiative

The Hardware Catalyst Initiative is Canada’s first hardware and silicon-focused lab and incubator. Funded in part by the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), this competitive program supports companies building 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.

To learn more about the Hardware Catalyst Initiative, visit

About ventureLAB
ventureLAB is a leading technology hub located in Markham in York Region, Canada’s second-largest tech cluster. Through its programs focused on capital, talent, technology, and customers, ventureLAB has supported over 2,000 tech companies and entrepreneurs, including 100 companies that have raised over $100 million and created 3,500 jobs. ventureLAB’s innovation hub is a 50,000 square foot facility that is home to over 45 tech companies and partners that employ more than 300 people. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada.

About FedDev Ontario
For more than 10 years, FedDev Ontario has actively worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation and growth in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving their productivity, growing their revenues, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Read more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario.

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