By Ariel Visconti
Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) celebrated another record-breaking year of success at its Annual General Meeting held on October 22, 2015 in Toronto.
Coinciding with the release of OCE’s 2014/15 Annual Report, the event highlighted achievements of the last fiscal year, recognized the winners of two prestigious OCE awards, and showcased technologies from high-potential OCE-supported companies.
In 2014/15, OCE exceeded past records for creating and retaining jobs, follow-on investments and engagement by industry, academia, investors and an entire new generation of young entrepreneurs. Some key achievements include:
- 5,471 jobs created or retained that can be directly attributed to OCE-funded projects, the highest in OCE history and a 65 per cent increase over last year
- $32.6 million invested in 614 active research, commercialization and talent projects managed by OCE
- $364.4 million in follow-on investment primarily from angel investors and venture capitalists, the highest in OCE history and more than double that of last year’s
- $95.5 million in funding leveraged from OCE’s initial program investment of $32.6 million for a combined total of $128.1 million being invested in the innovation ecosystem
- 1,194 start-ups supported, directly through OCE seed financing or indirectly through other OCE programs
“These quantitative measures are very important in helping us gauge the success of our efforts,” said OCE CEO and President Dr. Tom Corr at the AGM. “This is how we know that we are achieving the greatest possible results for the companies and entrepreneurs that we support, our industry and government partners and, of course, the people of Ontario.”
The outstanding achievements of two high-potential start-ups were also celebrated at the AGM with the announcement of OCE’s prestigious Martin Walmsley and Mind to Market award winners.
The Martin Walmsley Award supports the development of an Ontario student to create an innovative start-up with an economic impact in Ontario. The award gives a new entrepreneur the financial resources to focus entirely on making their ideas a viable business. The award honours the vision of Dr. Martin Walmsley, who was instrumental in founding OCE in 1987.
Sam Molyneux, co-founder of Toronto-based Meta (formerly known as Sciencescape), won the $25,000 Martin Walmsley Award for his company’s groundbreaking big data platform that links researchers with the most recent papers and publications in their field in real time.
OCE’s Mind to Market Award celebrates the best OCE-supported research collaboration between the business and research communities resulting in effective commercialization of leading-edge ideas and solutions.
Clear Blue Technologies was named winner of the $25,000 Mind to Market Award for its innovative approach to providing power to utilities like street lights and railway switching controls where access to an electrical grid is expensive or impossible. The award recognizes collaborations with Centennial and George Brown Colleges.
“These ventures are incredible examples of what can be accomplished through Ontario’s innovation ecosystem,” said Dr. Tom Corr. “They are bright and fearless representatives of the talent in this province who are serving to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.”
OCE’s AGM also provided the opportunity for attendees to get to know innovative technologies by OCE-supported companies from across the province. Twenty companies participated in the showcase, including:
The showcase also featured two winning companies from the Young Entrepreneurs, Make Your Pitch competition, Barks & Nibbles and Latch.