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TORONTO, ON (August 10, 2015) — Toronto-based law firm Aird & Berlis LLP (A&B) has become the sponsoring legal partner to the University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology Program (UTEST).
UTEST is a 12-month incubation and acceleration program co-managed by the University of Toronto (U of T) and MaRS Innovation that allows selected U of T-affiliated early-stage startup companies to incorporate, use office space, receive mentorship and access $30,000 in funding, with opportunities for follow-on funding from MaRS Innovation.
In 2014, UTEST was named one of Canada’s most promising start-up accelerators in an online series by BetaKit, a digital publication that covers Canadian technology.
“We are thrilled to partner with A&B and leverage their legal expertise for our startups and emerging companies,” said Kurtis Scissions, who co-directs UTEST with MI’s Mike Betts. “To date, 17 companies, including Granata Decision Systems, Whirlscape, Crowdmark, eQOL and TrendMD, have successfully graduated from our program. We look forward to adding A&B’s Startups Team of lawyers to our mentorship group for the UTEST program, beginning in 2015.”
UTEST is now accepting applications to Cohort 4Editor’s note: As of today, the University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) program, which MaRS Innovation co-directs with the University of Toronto, is accepting applications for Cohort 4. The full application is available on the UTEST website. In meantime, it’s our pleasure to reprint Brianna Goldberg’s “day-in-the-life-of-an-entrepreneur” feature on Cohort 3 company Nvest, published for U of T News.
Jackie Yan focuses on tweaking his PowerPoint slide deck despite the chaos unfolding around him.
Near the entrance to the office space he shares with teams from the six other startups that are part of the UTEST accelerator program, a phone spits distorted tones of an investment-related conference call at Hanna Tomory, CEO of a fatigue-management start-up called Syncadian, as she scratches a list of notes.
A few steps down the hall, Marissa Wu, founder of the digital sports coaching wearable startup called Onyx Motion, goes over presentation notes with her co-founder Vivek Kesarwani. They discuss the finer points of athlete training with the intensity of so many layup drills performed on the basketball net propped against the wall of their desk space.
Across the table in the conference room where Yan is feverishly editing his slides, James McCrae pieces together 3D sculptures of horses, wasps and dinosaurs created with software from his start-up, FlatFab.
“We’re hoping to make more stable structures with our 1.0 design, maybe integrating finger-joints,” McCrae explains as he prepares to demo FlatFab’s wares for a video crew from the Privy Council Office in Ottawa, Ontario.
The videographers are producing a video about MaRS Innovation today, which co-directs the UTEST accelerator program with the University of Toronto, and are capturing b-roll of UTEST founders at work on their ventures. With seven companies currently sharing the working space, there’s always something happening.
- UTEST was named to FundThrough.com’s list of “6 Exciting Canadian Startup Accelerators to Watch in 2015.” Program co-directors Mike Betts and Kurtis Scissons point out that UTEST does take an equity position in the incubated companies and does not run on a grant basis as mentioned in the article. (It’s a sweetheart deal, but not that sweet.)
- UTEST company Nvest was featured in a Globe and Mail story, “Next big sector to face disruption? Financial services” by Brenda Bouw. Here’s a quote:
“Another emerging fintech startup is Nvest, an early-stage, crowd-sourced stock recommendation platform. Nvest compiles recommendations from its users, many of which are average retail investors, and builds a performance history others can track. The credibility of recommendations is based on a user’s past performance. Nvest co-founder Fredrick Zhou likens it to LinkedIn for stock recommendations. ‘Nvest is a place where investors post their trading resume.’ Investors are taking notice. Nvest recently received funding from the University of Toronto Early Stage Technology program and it is in the process of pitching the business to angel investors.”
Products range from wearable digital coaches to socially-drive financial investment tools
TORONTO (Dec. 2, 2014) — The University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) incubator, co-directed by U of T’s Innovations & Partnerships Office (IPO) and MaRS Innovation, has announced its third cohort of computer science start-up companies.
Betakit and Electronic Products &Technology covered this announcement; TechVibes featured Syncadian and Onyx Motion in recent features. The U of T magazine also featured Syncadian and CEO Hanna Janossy in this recent profile.
The five companies and the diverse sectors they target are (scroll for full company descriptions):
- FlatFab Inc. — 3D printing (designing 3D objects that print in 2D)
- ICE3 Power Technologies Inc. — hardware (universal charger for portable devices)
- Onyx Motion Inc. — wearables (digital coaching)
- Nvest Inc. — financial investing (socially-driven stock recommendations)
- Syncadian Inc. — digital health (fatigue management for enterprise clients)
Past graduates include Whirlscape, TrendMD, Crowdmark, eQOL and Granata Decision Systems, among others.
UTEST among the four U of T entrepreneurship programs to be funded through Ontario’s CLA program
The funding is part of the Campus-Linked Accelerator Program (CLA), announced today by Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research and Innovation, and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.
“Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit among students is a key component of Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy, through programs that help transfer their ideas and skills to the marketplace while creating rewarding careers,” said Minister Moridi. “By partnering with colleges and universities to support entrepreneurship, we are ensuring our province’s business leaders of tomorrow are getting the support they need to succeed today.”
With this funding, U of T will continue to build on its long track record of success in this area by expanding the entrepreneurship opportunities it offers to students, primarily through its four principal accelerators: The Creative Destruction Lab (Rotman School of Management), The Hatchery (Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering), The Impact Centre (Faculty of Arts & Science), and UTEST (The Innovation and Partnerships Office, produced in partnership with MaRS Innovation).
The CLA program provides critical funding that enhances the support U of T and MaRS Innovation offer to our current UTEST companies,” said Kurtis Scissons, co-director of UTEST. “It also allows UTEST to expand to work with a greater number of student entrepreneurs in computer software, and is a catalyst for other UT CLA’s to combine their entrepreneurship efforts in a synergistic, complimentary way.”
CoursePeer’s social collaboration intranet solution successful in amplifying members’ and citizens’ collaboration and engagement
TORONTO, Aug. 13, 2014 — If you run a community-led group to discuss key issues facing over 1.4 million people, how do you help them to do the best collaboration possible? What’s the best way to capture and retain their feedback?
After seven years of successfully holding the Western Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Summit—an annual meeting co-chaired by the mayors and business leaders of Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon and Oakville to discuss issues of significant importance to the Western GTA—the Summit’s task forces decided to further enhance their members’ means of collaboration and knowledge retention by adopting an innovative technology platform.
CoursePeer, a University of Toronto and MaRS Innovation start-up providing learning and collaboration solutions for enterprise and government, began a successful implementation at the Summit in January 2014.
“I find the program very intuitive, accommodating and simple to use. There is a bit of a fraternity building among the regular users,” said Peter VanSickle, co-chair of Brampton and president of the Brampton Downtown Development Corporation.
The University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) program helps U of T students, recent grads or professors to take their ideas to market.
Successful applicants get mentoring, funding and work space over a 12-month period as they advance their ideas. The program is co-managed by MaRS Innovation and the University of Toronto.
In a U of T “Spotlight on Startups” news article, Brianna Goldberg spoke with Mike Betts and Kurtis Scissons, UTEST co-directors, on what makes for a great applicant.
Here’s an excerpt:
What are you looking for in an exceptional UTEST application?
Evidence of a strong and committed team. It’s critical to have standout technology and a great market opportunity but at the end of the day it’s the team that makes these businesses work—it’s about having a balance of amazing technical talent and business leadership and execution skills. When we come across an application that has a really awesome team, it stands out. – Mike Betts, UTEST co-director
What’s one common mistake you see in applications for UTEST that might cause them to be rejected?
Commitment. We want entrepreneurs that are fully committed to the program and to their new companies. UTEST is a serious program for serious entrepreneurs who want support to create a sustainable successful company. The application must exude your confidence in your idea and the effort the entrepreneur(s) will commit to see it successful. – Kurtis Scissons, UTEST co-director
What advice would you give to those considering applying to UTEST?
1. Build a balanced team. Understand the strengths of your team members and ensure that gaps can be addressed either through internal change or be open to external hires.
2. Be passionate about your idea but also understand it will be a rollercoaster of emotions. –Scissons
Betts and Scissons are accepting applications for UTEST’s third cohort until April 17. Current students, current faculty and recent graduates of U of T are welcome to apply.
Techvibes, a publication dedicated to covering latest trends in start-up culture and social and mobile news, covered the University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) program’s call for applications in an online article on March 1, 2014.
Applications for UTEST’s third cohort are open until April 17, 2014. Co-directors Kurtis Scissons and Mike Betts will work with selected applicants for a period of twelve months to guide their idea to market. Successful applicants receive work space for a year, mentorship, $30,000 in funding and access to industry expertise.