Pitch Competition


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The 2021 HardTech Pitch Competition will award up to $25,000 in prizes, and serve as an application to the coveted third cohort of ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative. Apply for your chance to win up to $25,000 in prizing and a spot in the Hardware Catalyst Initiative.

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The 2021 HardTech Pitch Competition will award up to $25,000 in prizes, and serve as an application to the coveted third cohort of ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative. Eligible companies will fast-track their applications to the Hardware Catalyst Initiative, Canada’s only hardware and semiconductor lab and incubator to help accelerate commercialization at scale.


The HardTech Pitch Competition will be held on June 23, 2021, in partnership by ventureLAB and the Regional Municipality of York. The competition is open to small businesses developing hardware and semiconductor-focused products. Up to eight finalists will have the opportunity to showcase their solution to a broad audience, including industry leaders, investors, government, media, and more!


Company innovations can impact, but are not limited to, the following industries:

  • Cleantech
  • Electric Vehicles, Smart Vehicles, and Mobility (inclusive design)
  • MedTech and Wearables (Smart Glasses, etc.)
  • Smart Agriculture and Industrial Solutions
  • Drones
  • Smart Retail and Fintech hardware
  • 5G and Next Gen Communications
  • Smart City and Smart Factory applications deploying sensor systems, IOT and IIOT, and accelerated AI hardware



Are you a Canadian startup and think you have what it takes?


Apply Now


Key Dates

Application Period: April 15 – May 12, 5:00 p.m EST
Finalists Selected: May 17 – 21
Pitch Preparation: May 25 – June 2
Mock Pitch Day: June 2 – June 8 (TBC)
Pitch Day: June 23, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. EST (time subject to change)

How to apply

Complete the application form by May 12, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. EST.


Please note: 

Admission to the Hardware Catalyst Initiative is not guaranteed to the winners of the Pitch Competition. All applications will undergo a thorough review process by ventureLAB prior to program admission.


If you meet all of the eligibility criteria listed below, and have not previously won the 2019 or 2020 Made in York Region Pitch Competition, you may still apply to this competition. 

Eligibility Criteria

Companies must meet the follow criteria to be eligible for the HardTech Pitch Competition and Hardware Catalyst Initiative application: 

  1. Company was founded within 5 years immediately preceding the application
  2. Company earned less than $5M in revenue in last 12 months
  3. Developed or are developing a novel semiconductor and sensor product, silicon-based IP or an embedded hardware product
  4. Company is incorporated in Canada
  5. You have a CRA business number
  6. Have 99 or fewer employees
  7. If you are not located in Southern Ontario, you plan to establish a long-term presence in Southern Ontario (HCI applicants only)
  8. If you are not already located in York Region, you are committed to co-locate to York Region or at ventureLAB’s innovation hub for at least six months upon winning the prize (dependent on public health regulations). Note that this can be fulfilled through a ventureLAB membership, which will be provided free of charge to the winners (HardTech Pitch Competition applicants only)
  9. All finalists must be available to participate on the following dates: (HardTech Pitch Competition applicants only)
    • Pitch preparation, Mock Pitch Competition and tech check from May 25-June 8 (details TBC)*
    • HardTech Pitch Competition June 23 (9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. EST – subject to change)*

Evaluation Criteria

Eligible applications will be evaluated and scored based on criteria aligned with the challenge statement, which include:

  • Alignment with ventureLAB’s goals and priorities to develop products and chip innovations to enable the economic sustainability of the Canadian semiconductor industry and its broader ecosystem
  • Innovation: how novel, creative and/or improved the product/technology is, relevant to technological and economic growth 
  • Feasibility: A clear vision of the product or service being built, and depicts a good business model that has a compelling mission to grow a commercially viable business
  • Scalability and Market Opportunity: Demonstrates a potential for sustainability, scalability and growth of their product or technology
  • Financial Stability: Stable and sustainable financial projections


Applications close on May 12, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. EST.



Are you a Canadian startup and think you have what it takes?


Apply Now

Have a question?

For questions related to the application process, contact hci@venturelab.ca

What is the Hardware Catalyst Initiative?

ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI) is Canada’s only lab and incubator for founders building hardware and semiconductor-focused products, enabling the creation of transformative technologies that will power our products of tomorrow — including healthcare technology, consumer electronics, telecommunications, smart energy, connected transportation, and more. Funded in part by the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the Hardware Catalyst helps tech companies accelerate their time to market in a sector that normally incurs lengthy entry and scale times, enabling Canadian hardware and semiconductor companies to grow and scale locally, and compete globally.

About the York Region Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund

The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund encourages innovation towards business continuity and business recovery efforts by supporting promising early stage start-ups, accelerators, incubators, and community partners.

See how ventureLAB is changing Canada's tech innovation ecosystem.