Innovation - Round up
Ontario is investing in innovation. Ontario’s Innovation Agenda is the province’s $3.2-billion
commitment to help turn great ideas into good jobs for the future and better lives for Ontario
Ontario - One program helping emerging companies is the Innovation Demonstration Fund. The fund helps companies commercialize promising new technologies by supporting them at the pilot or demonstration project stage. These projects help companies attract the customers and investors they need to move their technology to the global marketplace.
Through the Innovation Demonstration Fund, Ontario is investing close to $1.5 million in
Waterloo-based Sober Steering. This company has developed a new approach to prevent
drinking and driving. Instead of a breath-based system, Sober Steering’s technology uses
sensors mounted on the steering wheel to take measurements through a person’s skin. The
system can detect alcohol as soon as two minutes after consumption. If an alcohol level above
the legal limit is found, the system prevents the driver from operating the vehicle.
Along with its life-saving potential, there is an enormous global market opportunity for this
product. Several U.S. states either have or are currently considering legislation that would make
this kind of system mandatory for people who have been convicted of driving under the
influence of alcohol. Sweden, meanwhile, has set a goal that by 2012, all new vehicles must be
fitted with devices that prevent drinking and driving and other European countries and Japan
are considering similar legislation.
Ontario’s investment will help Sober Steering refine its technology, develop and test its
prototype, and run a year-long pilot program. The company plans to bring its product to market
in 2011 and expects to create 10 permanent and up to 20 part-time high-skill jobs over the next
To date, Ontario has invested in 13 promising Ontario cleantech companies through the
Innovation Demonstration Fund. Most recently, Ontario invested almost $3.8 million to help Vive
Nano develop its eco-friendly process for creating nanotechnology-based products and
materials. Other emerging Ontario technology companies that have received support through
the fund include:
• BIOREM Technologies Inc. Designs and manufactures systems that remove odours
and contaminants from the air, including hydrogen sulphides and volatile organic
compounds, using an energy-efficient micro-organism technology.
• 6N Silicon Has a new, cost-effective process for purifying silicon to the degree needed
for solar panels. Last October, 6N announced the opening of its new head office and
production facilities in Vaughan.
• GreenCore Composites Inc. Has developed natural-fibre composites that can be used
to make environmentally-friendly parts for the automotive, furniture and toy industries.
• Menova Energy Inc. Designs and manufactures high performance solar heating and
electric systems. Menova partnered with a company called Woodbine Tool and Die on
its demonstration project, which helped Woodbine diversify beyond the automotive
• Verdant Power Canada Verdant’s Free Flow Turbine technology, which looks like an
underwater windmill, can generate power from river currents, yet rotates slowly allowing
fish to pass through safely with minimal environmental impact.
• The Woodbridge Group Woodbridge is researching and commercializing Biofoam, a
renewable, soy-based product that can be used in automotive seating and interiors.
OTHER SUPPORT FOR INNOVATIVE COMPANIES
In total, Ontario is making more than $500 million available to support emerging companies that
require access to risk capital in order to grow.
This includes the creation of the $205-million Ontario Venture Capital Fund, a limited
partnership between the Ontario government and leading institutional investors, to provide
investment funding for innovative, high-potential companies. As well, the 2009 provincial budget
boosted Ontario’s support for emerging companies by creating the new $250-million Ontario
Emerging Technologies Fund and by injecting another $50 million into the Innovation
Also supporting start-ups in Ontario is the Investment Accelerator Fund, which helps eligible
companies develop their technology and gain entrepreneurial expertise to bring their product or
service to the global market.