Category Archives: Innovation Factory

Customer Acquisition Strategy for Mobile Apps with Jesse Rodgers

jesserodgersWhen: Thursday July 30th 2015 from 11:00am to 1:00pm

Where: McMaster Innovation Park @ 175 Longwood Rd. South


Organizer: Innovation Factory


You have built that mobile app and had it approved for the app store. Now everyone is going to find it, give it 5 star ratings, and you will get millions of users! Right? Not exactly. The distribution channels for discovering new applications are clogged with the latest unhappy birds and photo sharing app. How can you find the people that will get value out of your application and keep using it?

Join iF on Thursday, July 30 for a workshop on bulding a customer acquisition strategy for your application. In this workshop we will go through a number of strategies you can try that will help people find your product.
Lunch will be provided for this event.


June IF Lunch ‘n Learn

Lunch_and_learn1When: Tuesday June 23rd at 11:30am – 1:30pm

Where: McMaster Innovation Park @ 175 Longwood Road South

Organizer: Innovation Factory



Please join iF on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 for a Lunch ‘n Learn on “What No One Told You About Operations Strategy & Your Brand” presented by Strategic Communications Consultant, June Ip!

This unique learning and networking opportunity will include a complimentary lunch!

So you have a nifty logo and a snazzy slogan. You may even have a thoughtful brand strategy. The next step is to “activate” that brand by infusing it into your operations, customer service, and decision making mechanisms. June will teach you how to use the principles in this session to create authentic customer touch points in your business that demonstrate your value to customers, win their loyalty, and improve the medium- to long-term prospects of your business.

Our Lunch ‘n Learn events are a great way to get out and network while enjoying a free lunch, and learning something new! Please forward this to all of the innovators you know.

11:30am-noon – Lunch & Networking
Noon-1pm –  Keynote Presentation and Factory 5 (TBA)
1pm – 2pm – Dessert & Networking (at iF’s Innovation Destination)

Parking Information
Parking is available for a cost of $0.50/ hour at McMaster Innovation Park Special Events and Conference Parking

About June Ip
June is a strategic communications consultant who has successfully led change initiatives at small and medium sized professional services firms, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and manufacturers that are facing unprecedented levels of globalization, economic upheaval, and technological change. She is an instructor for University of Toronto’s Business Innovation Certificate and holds an MBA from Rotterdam School of Management in The Netherlands.

15 ventures selected to compete in 2015 LiON’S LAIR


Hamilton, ON (June 11, 2015) – Fifteen companies have been selected as finalists for LiON’S LAIR, a competition that offers finalists the chance to pitch their idea to a panel of industry judges—the “Lions”—and solicit over $100,000 in cash and in-kind resources.

Hopeful participants submitted their business plans in April and each plan was evaluated based on the company’s product and commercial viability, ability to execute, and other factors by a panel of independent judges. The judge’s scores were tallied and this year’s fifteen finalists are: 12 Squared Diagnostics, Blue Orchid Care, BuckItLife, Chipsetter, ExVivo Labs, NanoSpin, OneBase, Peytec, Qidni Labs, QReserve, Sniper Skin, Tribute Tree, Virtual Possibilities, WeMesh and xocial.

“This year marks the fifth annual LiON’S LAIR competition and we’re delighted to see the diverse, high-potential businesses that have been selected as finalists,” stated Keanin Loomis, President and CEO, Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

This year, a new component has been added to the competition. Fifteen ventures have been selected and all fifteen will go through training over the summer months, but in July, five companies will be eliminated during a round of preliminary pitching. The remaining ten will move on to face the Lions with the goal of winning a portion of the over $100,000 in prizing.

“This elimination stages adds another exciting element to the competition,” said David Carter, Executive Director, Innovation Factory. ”It also allows us to offer more entrepreneurs the invaluable workshop sessions to help them refine their business plan, their pitch, and ultimately accelerate their business.”

This years’ “Lions” are: Mario Paron (KPMG), Tonia Jahshan (Steeped Tea), George McCarter (Pearson Dunn), Cheri Chevalier (Microsoft Canada), and Michael Macaluso (CARSTAR Automotive Canada Inc).

Each finalist will participate in a pitch session with the Lions which will include the entrepreneur’s pitch followed by a question period. The Lions ultimately decide which companies receive cash and in-kind service investments from participating sponsors.

The pitch sessions will be filmed at Cable 14 and will be shown at the LiON’S LAIR gala on September 30, 2015 at Carmen’s Banquet Centre. The Lions’ investment decisions will be revealed live on stage at the gala.

LiONʼS LAIR gala tickets will go on sale in early July at


More about this year’s finalists:

12 Squared Diagnostics has developed a diagnostic test for the new oral anticoagulants. It uses a drop of blood from a finger-prick at point-of-care, giving result in 30 minutes.

Blue Orchid Care has designed the ORCHIDlift, a compact and portable sit-to-stand lift which allows the caregiver to lift and transfer 3x their weight limit and eliminates the forward bending motion and twisting of the spine that can cause back injury.

BuckItLife is an online adventure tourism hub that connects consumers to service providers who can fulfill the activities on consumers’ bucket lists.

Chipsetter is developing a low­-cost pick-­and­-place machine for the printed circuit board (PCB) assembly process that is 10 times more cost­-effective, easier to use, and quicker to setup than existing entry­-level machines.

ExVivo Labs is developing skin patch technologies to make allergy testing less invasive and more accurate. Our technology provides an alternative allergy testing method to the commonly used skin prick test, and gives results that are safe, simple and certain.

NanoSpin presents a patent-pending cooling technology for computer servers. The result of a decade of research, this technology can reduce energy consumption of a data center by up to 50%, and reduce its real-estate footprint to a fifth.

OneBase has created a web platform that allows teams to effectively and efficiently onboard their members. OneBase lets you track the effectiveness of your initiatives, engage your new team members, and offers a one-stop-shop that is accessible anywhere – desktop or mobile.

Peytec is an award winning company, offers real-time location tracking and sensing solutions. Peytec mainly helps agriculture, manufacturing, retail, and logistics industries to better manage their inventory and product quality through utilization of Peytec’s scalable sensors and location chips.

Qidni Labs is working on an implantable renal replacement therapy (artificial kidney) for nearly three million patients with End Stage Renal Disease.

QReserve is a matchmaking service for researchers, students and businesses. Their platform connects people who need research equipment, services or expertise, building collaborative research partnerships. The QReserve platform is a publicly searchable database of research resources, which spans labs across Canada in universities, colleges, hospitals and research institutions.

Sniper Skin has created a revolutionary hockey tape alternative. Conventional hockey tape has remained the same for decades – it must be replaced every few games and does not protect the stick. Sniper Skin’s one piece sleeve is heat activated, with a special surface texture that slides over the blade.

Tribute Tree is the only Software as a Service (SaaS) website platform that meets all of the funeral planning, arrangement and digital communications needs of their customers (families) during their time of loss.

Virtual Possibilities has developed a patented, prototype for minimally invasive surgery. Comparable to the classic board game Operation, LaparoGuard tracks and records the delicate movements of laparoscopic tools during surgery, alerting medical teams when instruments approach the boundaries of an established safe zone. The overall effect is to reduce and prevent instrument and tissue collisions that cause injury during surgery.

WeMesh is the world’s first truly synchronous multimedia messenger app, letting users experience their favorite videos in perfect sync with all their friends while messaging through text and voice. WeMesh features simultaneous video playback, a versatile chat engine, high-quality Voice-over-IP, and full contacts and social network integration.

xocial™ (soh-shuhl) is a platform to motivate do-gooders, inspire healthy competition and help organizations engage audiences—all by measuring our positive social impact with the xo score™. The xocial platform helps brands, non-profits, charitable foundations, employers and third-party apps connect with everyday heroes.


About Hamilton Chamber of Commerce
Representing over 1,000 businesses and institutions that employ more than 75,000 people in Hamilton, Ontario, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce is the city’s 169 year-old voice of business and thought leader in commerce. In addition to helping provide solutions to the day-to-day challenges of its member businesses, the Hamilton Chamber provides leadership on city building initiatives that are designed to stimulate commerce and increase prosperity in the community.

About Innovation Factory
Innovation Factory is the Regional Innovation Centre for Hamilton in the Ontario Network of Excellence, leveraging funding and support from all three levels of government and the city’s top private sector and institutional partners. Our goal is to stimulate economic activity in this city by helping Hamilton businesses embrace the principles of innovation.


For more information, contact:
Emily Kinread
Marketing & Communications Manager, Innovation Factory
905.667.2611 x233 |

Keanin Loomis
President & CEO, Hamilton Chamber of Commerce
905.522.1151 x229 |


Innovation Night Showdown on June 18th

When: Thursday June 18th from 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Where: McMaster Innovation Park @ 175 Longwood Road South Hamilton, Ontario

Organizer: Innovation Factory

Join Innovation Factory on June 18, 2015 for our Innovation Night Showdown and Summer Social! If you haven’t been out to an Innovation Night before, this is a great opportunity to come out and see what it’s all about!

Innovation Night is open to the public and attendees will have the opportunity to observe up to 15 2 minute presentations from local innovators, vote for their favourite pitch, and network while enjoying a delicious dinner!

The Innovation Night Showdown will be held in the Atrium @ MIP from 6pm to 9pm.

The schedule of events is as follows:

6pm – Dinner & networking
7pm – Innovation Night Showdown pitches!
8pm – Post pitch networking


Register for Innovation Night Showdown below:



Thoughts on the 2015 BiG DiFIZEN of the Year Award!

Originally posted on


IMG_20150507_203111Perhaps few of us really know what it’s like to be recognized by your community – in this case the #HamOnt Startup community for your contributions to the whole ecosystem!

But again last night, our Innovation Factory presented the 2015 Mark Chamberlain BigDifIZEN of the Year award to Jay Rosenblatt! Kudos Jay….an honor well worth acknowledging!

As you can see the pix below, it was again a big nite for the whole Startup community and the cities “movers & shakers” were mostly all there…and it was a great evening gala!

While the speeches were short and oh-so-to-the-point, I’d like to congratulate Dave Carter – CEO of the Innovation Factory for his strong support of the #HamOnt Starup community – and Mark Chamberlain who was truly one of the first citizens to get our community started and up and running! Kudos to you both!


So…as I’ve said before…it was a great night for #HamOnt…a great gala and yes, truly a great winner….hat’s off to Mark Chamberlain himself for his leadership in getting the city moving towards it’s renewal and to our Innovation Factory for their sheparding of same….we truly do live in a great community…and judging by our latest DiFIZEN of the Year, it’s only going to be that much better, eh!


Applications close April 30th for LiON’S LAIR


Don’t miss your chance to apply for the fifth annual LiON’S LAIR competition, presented by Innovation Factory and The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

LiONʼS LAIR is an annual competition that brings together the entrepreneurial community in Hamilton, giving 10 companies the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of our city’s top business experts – the “Lions” – for a chance to win over $100,000 in cash and in-kind resources. The first LiON’S LAIR took place in 2011 and has grown significantly – in application volume, gala attendees, prizing and buzz – year after year.

Why should you apply for LiON’S LAIR? The competition offers:

1. Access to valuable training sessions to learn how to pitch your business, both to investors and the media

2. Excellent networking opportunities – both with other entrepreneurs as well as Hamilton’s innovation community. If you make the top 10, you’ll be pitching to a panel of top executives

3. The chance to win over $100,000 in cash and in-kind resources like meetings with IP lawyers and financial advisors!

Last years’ winners – Ranggo, The Greenlid, Sound Options, Hangry, and Special Appucations – each took home a portion of the over $160,000 in prizes, awarded by the “Lions”: Carmela Trombetta (RBC), Tonia Jahshan (Steeped Tea), Mario Paron (KPMG), Jeff Paikin (New Horizon Homes) and Blair McKeil (McKeil Marine).

Peter Basl of the 2014 grand prize winning team, Ranggo, says LiON’S LAIR was a transformative experience for his venture: “Every step of the competition helped shape the business and bring us to the stage we’re at now,” says Basl. “The training workshops helped tune our value proposition, pitch and strategy, and after winning, we received significant media exposure and credibility that helped open many doors. I definitely recommend any serious entrepreneur to apply for LiON’S LAIR.”

This year, another element has been added to the competition. Fifteen ventures will be selected from the pool of applicants. All fifteen companies will go through training over the summer months, but five will ultimately be eliminated during a round of preliminary pitching. The final 10 will then move on to face the “Lions”.

The 10 finalists’ pitches to the “Lions” are filmed at Cable 14, and clips from the taping will be shown at the competition’s gala event on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at Carmen’s Banquet Centre, where the winners will be announced live on stage; last year’s sold-out gala attracted over 500 of Hamilton’s startup and small business supporters.

“By initially selecting fifteen companies we not only amp up the competition a little throughout the summer, but it also allows us to offer more entrepreneurs vital training,” says David Carter, Executive Director at Innovation Factory. “Even if they don’t make it to the top 10, the training they receive will help them advance their ventures.”

Training and exposure is what finalists who don’t win a portion of the prize package point to as a tremendous value add to the LiON’S LAIR experience. “Participating in LiON’S LAIR was probably one of the best decisions we made as a team in our early stages,” says Seyed Nourbakhsh, Founder of Formarum and LiON’S LAIR 2014 finalist. “Besides the great workshops, the competition provided tremendous exposure for us, validating our product, opening new doors and creating opportunities that we could otherwise have not encountered.”

To apply now visit:

Introduction to Arduino workshop April 21st



When: Tuesday April 21st 2015 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm

Where: McMaster Innovation Park @ 175 Longwood Road South


The Arduino workshop is an introduction to microcontrollers, the “computers” that run our everyday devices. This workshop is suitable for anyone wanting to know more about the Arduino buzz. Software developers that are looking to make the leap into embedded programming or entrepreneurs wanting a better understanding of how hardware fits into the product design cycle.

Doug Petican is an electronics technologist, entrepreneur, and maker enthusiast. He has worked in government and industry for over 20 years, and started experimenting with electronics and computers in his teens during the 1980’s. Doug likes experimenting with anything hardware, particularly LEDs.

Please note this is a beginners workshop, advanced Arduino concepts will not be presented. Arduino boards will be shared but feel free to bring your own.


Sound Options wins second annual Synapse Competition


Hamilton, ON (April 9, 2015) – On April 8, Hamilton’s life science community gathered at McMaster Innovation Park to take part in the Synapse Life Science Competition final showcase.

The event showcased ten teams: seven through poster presentations while the top three teams presented their innovations live on stage to a panel of industry experts, competing for over $35,000 in cash and professional resources.

The top three finalists – Avertus, Blue Orchid and Sound Options – each had 20 minutes to impress the judges, which included executives from Amgen Canada, ASK Solutions Inc., Trellis Capital and Johnson & Johnson.

Sound Options was named the grand prize winner for their effective, affordable and convenient sound therapy for people suffering from tinnitus, a hearing condition that produces ringing in the ears. The company took home $15,000 cash, a $5,000 IP package, and a life science specific $5,000 consulting package from SHI Consulting.

Dr. Michael Chrostowski, founder of Sound Options, spoke to the impact that the awarded prizes will have on his company: “Sound Options will be able to benefit from the prizing we received from this competition in so many ways in our immediate future,” he said. “The prizes could not have been more timely. The Synapse competition and the supporting ecosystem are among many reasons why Hamilton is a great place to start a company. We look forward to continuing to grow and providing more tinnitus sufferers with an effective and customized sound therapy.”

The company’s cutting-edge software analyzes an individual’s tinnitus and hearing loss profile to develop a customized sound-therapy treatment that is clinically proven to be more effective than other solutions, and produces results in half the time of the leading competitor.

Blue Orchid and Avertus both tied for second place, each receiving $1,500 cash and a $5,000 IP package courtesy of one of our legal partners Gowlings, Ridout & Maybee, and Sabeta IP, and ANDzyme took home the poster board prize of $500 cash and an introductory meeting and $1,000 consultation package from Willow Tree Capital.

Avertus has created a home based, wireless, brain monitoring and seizure warning system with active dry electrodes. Over 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy and assessment times for treatment can be lengthy. This is because patients often do not realize they are having a seizure, which can lead to brain damage over time or even death. Avertus has designed a comfortable, home-use technology, which would allow physicians to record brain waves (EEG) without requiring extensive, time-consuming and uncomfortable patient preparation.

Blue Orchid has developed the OrchidLift: a compact and portable sit-to-stand lift aimed to provide an affordable, simple solution to lift, transport and assist with patients’ mobility in their own home. Inaccurate handling and lifting of patients by caregivers can put both parties involved at high risk for further injuries. With the aging population, devices that allow the elderly to remain in their own home longer are becoming increasingly important.

Executive Director at Innovation Factory, David Carter, points to the Synapse competition as a testament to the Hamilton’s growing strength in the health and life sciences: “The innovations we saw today have the potential to be life-changing,” says Carter. “I’m thrilled that our region is paying attention to research coming out of the life sciences. Synapse has shown that Hamilton’s life science cluster is thriving and I’m confident we have the supports in place here to help take these ventures to the world stage.”

The seven poster board finalists included: 12 Squared Diagnostics, ANDzyme, Colourimetric Biosensing, DNA Quantifier, Qidni Labs, RotaNovus and Virtual Possibilities. After the top three finalists presented to the audience, the judges deliberated while keynote Niall Wallace, co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Infonaut Inc., discussed his own experience building Infonaut from a start-up, to the successful evidence-based infection control company it is today. His talk touched on pitching for investment, what investors look for, and pointers for growing Hamilton’s life science cluster.

The event concluded with Dr. Clive Ward-Able, Executive Director, Amgen Canada, the appointed judge-representative, announcing the winners live on stage.

The Synapse final showcase is the culmination of months of hard work. Back in January, the competition teamed up life science innovators with business and engineering students from McMaster University. Together, each team produced both business and commercialization plans for their ventures. All of the finalists also participated in training sessions to help them complete the plans and fully prepare for the final showcase.

Generous prize contributors included Hamilton Health Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Mohawk College, Bay Area Health Trust, McMaster Innovation Park, Ridout & Maybee LLP, Gowlings LLP, Sabeta IP, SHI Consulting, Willow Tree Capital, and supporting partners included McMaster Industry Liaison Office, Ontario Centres of Excellence, TechAlliance, W Booth School of Engineering, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, the City of Hamilton and St. Joseph’s Healthcare.


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