Rural Innovation Challenge

Rural Innovation Challenge

background arrow image

Reimagine business continuity for main street businesses in Simcoe County amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Rural Innovation Challenge gives small and medium-sized enterprises incorporated in Canada the opportunity to pilot and scale novel solutions that support business continuity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

background arrow image


The Rural Innovation Challenge took place in December 2020. The Challenge was hosted by ventureLAB, the County of Simcoe, and Digital Main Street to explore, source, and pilot novel solutions that support Main Street business continuity in Simcoe County amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Our partners are a community of organisations that include the Centre For Business and Economic Development, North Simcoe Community Futures Development Corporation, Nottawasaga Futures, Orillia Area Community Development Corporation, and Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre. Solutions must address one or a combination of the following challenge areas:


  • Enhance streamlined delivery and order fulfillment services for online purchases made from Main Street businesses
  • Expand and optimize schedule and ticket management services for Main Street businesses
  • Enable Main Street businesses to better manage and care for the physical and mental well-being of their staff and employees 


The winning finalist received $10,000; the runner-up received $7,000, and the second runner-up received $4,000 in funding to pilot or scale their solutions. A portion of the funding will be awarded in the form of advisory services during the course of the program.


First Place: TAKU RETAIL

The TAKU Retail  cloud platform allows established main street retailers to seamlessly move their operation online while making it easier for local shoppers to see what products are available and in-stock nearby.

First Runner-Up: Wrmth

Wrmth provides the first 100% Canadian designed and manufactured outdoor heated furniture to extend the patio season. Wrmth chairs provide incubating warmth, with three temperature settings, comfortable contours, and multiple safety features, while providing a green energy solution that adds months to the outdoor patio season.

Second Runner-Up: delivereh.

delivereh. A “new normal” logistics company founded to support small businesses during the pandemic and beyond. End to End digital solution. We deliver, Eh!




Immunodex helps you trust your users’ health and vice versa so you can resume business safely. Immunodex’s four step solution easily screens and alerts users with symptoms to seek medical help before arriving, and flag those who may need additional care.

Phyxable is an online solution for physiotherapy, chiropractic and occupational therapy care with their end-to-end virtual rehab platform. They empower people in pain to quickly diagnose, self-care and prevent their injuries from coming back, without stepping outside of their home or workplace.


EAIGLE offers an AI solution for crowd monitoring & occupancy data analytics for public places with high foot traffic. With the rise of COVID-19, EAIGLE introduced a new AI solution that automates the total COVID-19 screening process for employees at points of entry. The solution monitors large crowds non-invasively without any interruption in traffic flow.

Key Dates

Application Period: December 2 to 11

Advisory & Shortlisting Period: December 14 to 21

Pitch Day: December 21

Solution Implementation: Late December 2020 to mid-February 2021 (Dates to be Finalized) 


Thank you to our partners who share our passion and commitment to supporting entrepreneurs all across rising cities across the country.


Have a question?

Send your questions to

About ventureLAB

ventureLAB is a leading technology hub located in York Region, Canada’s second largest tech cluster. Through our programs focused on capital, talent, technology, and customers, ventureLAB has enabled the growth and scale of thousands of tech companies and entrepreneurs located in York Region, Simcoe County, the Greater Toronto Area, and beyond, including 100 companies that have raised over $100 million and created 3,500 jobs. Our community of entrepreneurs, innovators, and tech leaders has always been at the heart of what we do at ventureLAB. Through this initiative, we will engage our community to help main street businesses adopt digital solutions and help future-proof Ontario businesses.


Read more on what this means for businesses in York Region, Simcoe County, and across Ontario.

About Digital Main Street (DMS)

Digital Main Street is a program and service that helps main street businesses achieve digital transformation. It is cost-free, made possible by the generous support of the Government of Canada and FedDev Ontario through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund. It was introduced to help Ontario’s bricks and mortar businesses and the economy get through this challenging time.

About County of Simcoe Economic Development Office

The County of Simcoe Economic Development Office is responsible for the attraction, retention, and expansion of businesses and business opportunities within Simcoe County. The Economic Development Office works closely with Simcoe County’s sixteen member municipalities, the Cities of Barrie and Orillia, and with regional service providers to help businesses thrive and grow.

About North Simcoe Community Futures Development Corporation

NSCFDC is supported by the Government of Canada and is dedicated to helping small and medium sized businesses access services and capital, and enhancing the community’s economic and employment growth through community-based planning and economic development initiatives.

About Nottawasaga Futures

Nottawasaga Futures is a not-for-profit organization supported by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). We offer support, financing and training for rural businesses in South Simcoe.

About the Orillia Area Community Development Corp. (CDC)

The Orillia Area Community Development Corp. (CDC) helps businesses start, grow and succeed! We provide counselling, training & funding to local businesses to support job creation, growth and innovation. We also work with many community partners on various community economic development projects to build an economy in Orillia & Lake Country that is prosperous, growing and sustainable.

Apply for $10K in funding through ventureLAB's Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund

Sign up for our Newsletter