Category Archives: Innovation Factory

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.


Meridian and Innovation Factory partner to Champion Entrepreneurs



HAMILTON, MARCH 4, 2015 – Ontario’s largest credit union, Meridian, today announced a three-year partnership with Innovation Factory, Hamilton’s Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) and a member of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs. Combining their expertise and resources, the partners will work with local entrepreneurs — both aspiring and established — to help launch their businesses and ensure sustainable success.

“Meridian is committed to championing financial literacy among the entrepreneur community in Ontario. A study commissioned by Meridian shows that while many small business owners have the passion, drive and enthusiasm to start their own business, they often lack the financial acumen to see their business come to fruition,” says Jeff Brown, Vice President, Small Business at Meridian. “By working with Innovation Factory, we can help budding entrepreneurs realize their dreams faster and inspire them to focus on the long-term success and sustainability of their businesses.”

Dedicated to integrating innovation into the way people do business, Innovation Factory has been a vital driver of small business growth in the Greater Hamilton Region for over 4 years. Through the partnership, Meridian will be involved in two of Innovation Factory’s pillar programs — LiON’S LAIR and LiFT. LiON’S LAIR is an annual competition that gives ten local companies the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of Hamilton’s top business experts for a chance to win more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind resources. LiFT assists entrepreneurs by assessing and overcoming the challenges they face within the current stages of their businesses. Within both programs and on an ongoing basis, Meridian experts will provide financial advice and counseling to these impassioned entrepreneurs supported by Innovation Factory.

“We are always looking to develop partnerships with the best and brightest in Hamilton,” says David Carter, Executive Director, Innovation Factory. “Partnerships require a common vision for the future, and Meridian supports our belief that entrepreneurs will have a significant impact in the future growth in the City and its surrounding region.“

About Meridian
With over 70 years of banking history, Meridian is Ontario’s largest credit union, helping to grow the lives of its more than a quarter of a million Members, including over 21,000 business Members. Meridian has $11 billion in assets under management and delivers a full range of financial services online, by phone, by mobile and through a network of 67 branches and 7 business centres. Meridian Members also have access to THE EXCHANGE® Network, with more than 2,500 no-fee ABMs across Canada and 360,000 ABMs in the United States. For more information, please visit:

About Innovation Factory
Innovation Factory is the Regional Innovation Centre for Hamilton in the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs, 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 principals of innovation.

A member of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), we are focused on strengthening Hamilton’s next generation of job generators.

Funded by the Government of Ontario, the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) is Ontario’s innovation system. The ONE is made up of regional and sector focused organizations designed to help Ontario-based entrepreneurs rapidly grow their companies, and create jobs. For more information visit

Financial tool workshop at Innovation Factory

IFlogoWhen: Wednesday February 18th 2015 from 3:00pm to 5:00pm

Where: Innovation Factory @ 175 Longwood Road South



Dear entrepreneur:

We all know that sound financial planning is key for new business success.

Innovation Factory, other entrepreneurship organizations of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), and Meridian, Ontario’s largest credit union, are committed to working together to help new and future business owners like you to navigate early financial planning.

We’re building an online tool to be shared by new business owners & entrepreneurship organizations across our network, to be used and improved by all of us.

We want to hear from YOU about what YOU need.

Come to our Tool Co-Creation Workshop!

Join staff from our centre, the entrepreneurship network and Meridian in a small group session with other new business owners to give your opinion on the help that you need when it comes to your financial understanding and planning: What topics do you want to learn about? What resources would be helpful? What shape could these tools take?

You will be directly contributing to the development of a new resource to help yourself in running the finances of your business and thousands of new business owners just like you.

You’ll also have the chance to meet and network with other business owners to discuss issues facing your businesses.

We will also be providing free food and refreshments for all attendees.

Registration is limited to just 20 people, so register quickly to have your voice heard!

For more information, please email:

More background:

Innovation Factory, member organizations of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) and Meridian, Ontario’s largest credit union, are working together to develop an exciting new tool for new business owners to use to navigate many of the financial planning issues we all face in the first few years of running a new business.

Last year, we conducted a study on emerging and experienced business owner financial literacy in partnership with regional innovation centres across our network and Futurpreneur, and learned that a business owner’s understanding of financial topics is a key indicator of the business’ long-term success. We also learned that new business owners are lacking in several crucial areas of financial understanding.

To help address this issue, Innovation Factory, the network and Meridian are currently developing an online tool to help new business owners in these areas, and will be making it available for all of Ontario’s entrepreneurship organizations to use and share with new and future business owners.

To make this tool as relevant as possible to new and future business owners in our community, we are hosting several co-creation workshops to get their direct input into the content and design of the tool. We appreciate your support in this aspect and look forward to developing a tool that is based on the feedback that your clients provide.

Innovation Night in March

innightWhen: Wednesday March 11th from 6:00pm – 8:30pm

Where: McMaster Innovation Park @ 175 Longwood Road South


Organizer: Innovation Factory (@itbeginswithIF)

Join Innovation Factory for Innovation Night on March 11!

Innovation Night is Hamilton’s key event for innovators and entrepreneurs to practice and perfect their pitch, and present their ideas to their peers and Hamilton’s innovation community.

Innovation Night is open to the public, and attendees will have the opportunity to observe up to 15 2-minute presentations, meet the innovators, network, and enjoy light refreshments.

Innovation Night will be held on March 11, 2014 from 6:00pm-8:30pm in the Atrium at McMaster Innovation Park. Networking will start at 6:00pm.

Interested in pitching at Innovation Night?

Prospective Innovation Night Presenters are required to attend a workshop to refine the presentation of their idea – up to 15 ideas will be chosen to be presented to a panel of judges at Innovation Night.

The Innovation Night Workshop will be held on March 5 from 6:00pm-9:00pm at McMaster Innovation Park.
Be sure not to miss out on this great opportunity! Register today!

Innovation Factory hosts KPMG SRED workshop

IFlogoWhen: Tuesday February 3rd 2015 from 10:00am to 11:30am

Where: McMaster Innovation Park @ 175 Longwood Road South


Organizer: Innovation Factory (@itbeginswithIF)

Innovation Factory is hosting KPMG to present on SRED Credits and how your start up can benefit from them. SRED Credits are a federal tax incentive program, administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), that encourages Canadian businesses of all sizes, and in all sectors to conduct research and development (R&D) in Canada.

Please join us if you are interested in taking advantage of SRED Credits.

Tickets are limited so register today!

Talk by Karen Grant at next IF Lunch ‘n Learn

karengrantPlease join iF on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 for a unique learning and networking opportunity presented by KPMG. Enjoy a complimentary lunch while Karen Grant, Executive Director of the Angel One Investor Network, presents “What are Angel Investors Looking For?”

It is hard to raise money from strangers as every entrepreneur knows. While there is no magic formula that guarantees success, there are some fundamentals that help. Having helped her angel group members make 53 investments of almost $16 million in under 3 years, Karen will draw on her years of experience and identify the many of important factors involved in obtaining Angel funding.

This session is great for startups or anyone looking to learn a little more about Angel investment.


11:30am-noon – Lunch & Networking

Noon-1pm – Factory 5 and Keynote Presentation

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 Karen Grant

Karen has launched three angel groups: Angel One Investor Network (2011), Northern Ontario Angels (2005) and Toronto Angel Group (2001).

Karen is an entrepreneur, company director, consultant, and mentor. She has founded companies and has worked in the commercialization field for over 20 years. Earlier in her career ran the Toronto Venture Group, working with hundreds of companies that were seeking capital. Karen’s corporate experience includes 12 years with IBM Canada where she had roles in sales, marketing and communications.

Boards and Affiliations:

• The RIC Centre Director 2012 – Present
• Vida Holdings Inc. Director 2012 – Present
• Northern Ontario Angels Board Director 2005 and Chair 2008 – Present

About Innovation Factory

Innovation Factory ( is a not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centre, located in Hamilton, ON committed to connecting and enabling active collaboration between the city’s communities of science, business, government, academia and finance to accelerate the innovation process and amplify economic and social impact of key new ideas and discoveries. Funded by the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), we are focused on strengthening the next generation of wealth and jobs generators.

About KPMG

KPMG International’s ( member firms have 140,000 accounting professionals, including more than 7,900 partners, in 146 countries. Their clients include business corporations, governments, and public sector agencies and not-for-profit organizations.


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