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Students, faculty and recent alumni with software ideas must apply by Feb. 22

University of TorontoGot a killer software-based idea? Are you passionate about turning that idea into a start-up company?

If you’re a current student, faculty member or recent graduate of the University of Toronto, consider applying to the University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) program.

Applications are now closed. Stay tuned for the third UTEST application call.

Created as a pilot in 2012 to help the U of T community bring their software-based ideas to market, UTEST is part of a growing ecosystem of incubators and commercialization support services.

UTEST accepts companies in the very earliest stages of idea generation— before they’re ready for traditional incubators — and awards each company up to $30,000 in start-up funds.

It also provides nascent software companies with office space in the MaRS Discovery Districtmentoring and business strategy support.

“From a results standpoint, we couldn’t be more satisfied with first cohort of companies,” says Kurtis Scissons, co-director of UTEST at U of T. “In six months, they secured over $650,000 in follow-on funding. Each has filed solid patent protection and some are already gaining customer traction. They have also collectively created 21 highly-skilled jobs (HQPs).”

Update May 2013: Those figures now stand at $1.2 million and 29 jobs; most of the companies have secured customers.

For its second cohort of companies, UTEST seeks scalable, enterprise-focused software applications interested in building business-to-business customer bases — and preferably operational products with a short term to market.

Lyssa Neel
Lyssa Neel, co-director of UTEST and MaRS Innovation project manager.

“We focus on software-based companies, but the founders can come from any department,” explains Lyssa Neel, co-director of UTEST at MaRS Innovation. “Software is everywhere and we recognize that commercializable ideas can arise in any discipline. Committed, passionate entrepreneurs are welcome to apply.”

The program is now accepting applications for its 2013 cohort of companies. The submission deadline is February 22, 2013.

You can download Guidelines and Application Forms from the UTEST page in the MaRS Innovation portfolio or on U of T’s Research website.

The Innovations & Partnerships Office at the University of Toronto and MaRS Innovation jointly administer UTEST.

What’s it like to be a UTEST company?

Hear from our first group of founders in their own words:

Granata Decision Systems logo“UTEST has provided me with the entrepreneurship education I need to take my technology from an academic project to a commercial product. I get support from the UTEST team on patents, corporate issues, strategic relationships, marketing, and company leadership. Running a start-up is not a 9 to 5 job; I can e-mail or call on my UTEST advisers at any time day or night and get a quick response. Having the space to work in the MaRS building has also been great.”

Tyler Lu, founder, Granata Decision Systems Inc.

Thotra logo“Being part of UTEST has been invaluable to us. U of T and MaRS Innovation have put together an amazing program that has included focused mentorship and several enlightening speakers who provided useful information in easily digestible formats. We greatly appreciate the care and detail with which our UTEST mentors have guided us in establishing our company.”

Frank Rudzicz, founder,Thotra Inc.

Crowdmark Logo: Grade Better“My company, CrowdMark, is in the process of what looks to me to be a successful launch through the UTEST incubator. I’m a professor. I have a very good understanding of the scientific research process. I understand students, learning and how to teach. The incentives that drive me to do mathematics are orthogonal to those that drive business creation, so I sometimes find myself uncertain about my next action. The UTEST team has provided valuable resources to me and to CrowdMark. They understood the value of my invention and saw its potential when others didn’t. (Others are starting to now!) The UTEST team continues guide me and my team toward entrepreneurial success.”

James Colliander, founder, CrowdMark Inc.

Shotlst Logo“Having the opportunity to take part in the competitive UTEST program has allowed Shotlst to focus on what matters: our product and clients. UTEST has provided invaluable access to early-stage financing, office space, mentorship, intellectual property support, access to some of the world’s brightest minds at the University of Toronto, and outstanding resources at MaRS Innovation. We are tremendously proud to be a part of this impressive program, and look forward to growing with the other promising UTEST participants.”

Mike Borg, founder,Shotlst Inc.

Whirlscape logo“Aside from the business essentials (funding, space, etc.), the UTEST program’s greatest strength is the people: mentors, colleagues, and a vast network of industry connections through U of T and MaRS Innovation.”

Will Walmsley, founder,Whirlscape Inc.

CoursePeer Logo“Being part of UTEST’s first ICT cohort was the best thing to ever happen to CoursePeer. The University of Toronto and MaRS Innovation supported us throughout our expansion; their world-class advisers are people you can rely on.”

Hadi Aladdin, founder, CoursePeer Inc.

By Elizabeth Monier-Williams, marketing and communications manager.

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