"With massive amounts of cash being pumped into development by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and context-aware startups such as Flybits, the PA in everybody’s pocket could soon be a reality," Nick…
UTEST, the tech accelerator co-directed by MaRS Innovation and the University of Toronto, was named to BlogTO‘s Top 10 list of technology accelerators on November 8, 2015.
The list was published just weeks before the announcement of the fourth UTEST cohort, and included recognition of TrendMD and Whirlscape as notable startups among the graduated UTEST companies.
Here’s the excerpt:
UTEST, a collaboration between U of T and MaRs Innovation, is in its fourth year of operation with 15 teams. The program is one year in length and is only available to current students, recent grads and university faculty. UTest invests $30,000 in its companies in return for 5% equity. Two notable alumni are scholarly content recommendation engine TrendMD and mobile keyboard creator Whirlscape.
The article also mentions Slyce as a breakout company from the INCubes accelerator; the company acquired York University technology through a license deal negotiated by MaRS Innovation prior to their IPO.
Company plans future sports applications for tennis and golf for its Motion Marketplace
Swish by Onyx Motion “takes advantage of motion sensors to provide accurate tips and feedback to improve play,” wrote Robert Liwanag in “App for smartwatches helps users become better basketball players” for the Financial Post‘s “Entrepreneur” section on September 28, 2015.
“Using it is simple — you turn it on, press calibrate and lift your arms and hands as you would to shoot a basket,” wrote Liwanag. “The objective is to bring the circle hovering inside the target on the watch’s screen to go green. When it does, the user is in the right starting position and has the ability to achieve consistency shot after shot.”
Onyx Motion is a graduate of the UTEST program‘s third cohort (and is currently based in Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone). Their basketball app, which is scheduled to launch in November after a successful Indiegogo campaign, is the first of several sports-focused products planned by CEO Marissa Wu.
TechVibes gave UTEST, an incubator program jointly run by MaRS Innovation and the University of Toronto, a mention in Laura Leslie‘s “Canada’s Startup Communities Shining Brighter Than the California Sun,” published November 24, 2014, which explores the ecosystem-wide supports in place to encourage entrepreneurship in Canada.
Silicon Valley may be the first place that comes to mind when you think of tech startups, but when considering resources, financial support, and a welcoming atmosphere, Canada has been steadily putting itself on the map. The startup communities in cities such as Vancouver, Waterloo, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal have proven to be a sought after home for some of the world’s most notable tech innovations of the last few years.
In a section on university supports, two of MaRS Innovation’s member institutions, the University of Toronto and Ryerson University, are cited for encouraging technology incubation and entrepreneurship:
Toronto start-up to advance context-aware mobile experience platform
TORONTO, Canada (August 20, 2014) — Flybits Inc., a Toronto start-up that has created a context-aware experience development platform for mobile environments, has closed a $3.75 million Series A financing. Led by Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH (RBVC) and Trellis Capital Corporation with participation from MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund and Ryerson Futures, Inc., the investment will advance the company’s product development and international growth in the United States and Europe.
Since spinning off from Ryerson University in 2012, Flybits has raised a total of $4.05 million to date, including a seed round from MaRS Innovation. Flybits technology has been used in developing smarter cities, connected stadiums, smart corporate campuses, shopping malls, conference venues and even fashion shows. The company also concurrently incubated its technology at the Ryerson Digital Media Zone in Toronto and Vodafone Xone in Redwood City, California.
“Flybits is RBVC’s first investment in Canada,” said Luis Llovera, managing director of Robert Bosch LLC based in Palo Alto, California. “The company has demonstrated a unique and innovative approach in building foundational technology to deliver Contextual Mobility Services for both display-driven devices and for the emerging Internet of Things applications. Flybits’ strong roots in tangible and high impact R&D, their ability to predict the required infrastructure for the industrial Internet and their global entrepreneurial ambitions were some of the reasons we were attracted to this company.”
“Involving high-quality investors such as Bosch and Trellis demonstrates the potential in our unique approach to designing Intelligent Mobility Solutions that are intuitive and scalable,” said Dr. Hossein Rahnama, CEO and founder of Flybits. “In particular, having Bosch as a strategic investor means we leverage their global expertise in software automation, connected communities and sensor technologies as we support new and existing international customers, and scale and develop both our team and our products.”
“Recognizing the Flybits’ platform potential to create next-generation mobile experiences at an early stage, MaRS Innovation worked closely with Flybits to launch the company and secure initial market traction,” said Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation.
In “Big-Brain Hunting: The Key to Supercluster Success,” the Huffington Post‘s Pat Lynch investigates how and what makes start-ups successful. Attracting top-talent is listed as a major reason, but so is the environment required to give start-ups the tools they need to flourish.
Lynch highlights MaRS Innovation as a driving force in sustaining the innovation industry in Canada by attracting big ideas and global talent, using former MI project manager Lyssa Neel as an example.
Neel helped launch the education sector start-up Crowdmark, and is now the company’s chief operating officer. Crowdmark is a graduate of University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) program; UTEST is now accepting applications for their third cohort until April 11, 2014.
The City of Ottawa and Flybits Unveil New Traffic Management Tool That Provides Real-Time Traveler Information to Residents TORONTO, November 18, 2013 — The City of Ottawa and Flybits, an…
TORONTO, Canada (April 24, 2013) — Flybits Inc. announced today that Forrester Research Inc. has recognized Flybits, a Toronto-based start-up company, as a tool for on-demand marketing processes in a recent report.
The February 2013 Forrester report, written by Anthony Mullen, “Emerging Touchpoints Require a Marketing Mind Shift,” states that to master the new basics, marketing professionals must increase corporate spending on innovation and formalize working relationships in areas such as customer experience, analytics, IT and product design — all of which the Flybits framework addresses.
To address the problem of information overload on mobile devices, Flybits unifies the mobile user experience across multiple channels, creating a cohesive mobile presence for a company’s communication needs. Rather than introducing heterogeneous mobile channels to users, all relevant information can be structured within Flybits Zones — semantic-driven, rule-oriented geo-fences.
Hossein Rahnama, CEO of Flybits, a MaRS Innovation spin-off company, appeared on CBC’s Lang and O’Leary Exchange on August 24, 2012.
Watch Rahnama’s interview on CBC’s Media Player. The interview begins at the 13:40 mark and runs to 19:30.
Rahnama, who is also a professor at Ryerson University and and research director at Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone, was recently named to the MIT Technology Review’s prestigious 35 Inventors Under 35 list for 2012 along with fellow MaRS Innovation inventor Joyce Poon.
He describes his context-aware mobile technology, the importance of adapting research to solve real-world problems, the advantages to running a start-up in Toronto, and growing Flybits while keeping the business in Canada.
Professors Joyce Poon and Hossein Rahnama, who each have inventions within MaRS Innovation’s portfolio of spin-off companies and licenseable technologies, have been named to the MIT Technology Review‘s prestigious 35 Inventors Under 35 list for 2012.
Poon, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Toronto, was recognized for, according to MIT’s Technology Review, “creating new optical modulators with microscopic loop-the-loops through which light can shuttle data between servers and even from chip to chip within a single server.” She is working with MaRS Innovation to license her technology.