The University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) program's second cohort is coming to a close, with applications for a third cohort open until April 17. The incubator program, a University…
Crowdmark, a graduate of the University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) program’s first cohort, was the focus of a February 17 article by Ivor Tossell, The Globe and Mail‘s technology culture columnist.
Created by U of T professor James Colliander, Crowdmark allows educators to quickly and efficiently grade large amounts of tests and exams. Tossell highlighted Crowdmark’s innovation and ease-of-use for the grader. The product is cloud-based, meaning that a team of educators marking the same group of exams don’t have to be in the same room at the same time. Instead, grading can be done remotely.
Tossell spoke with Colliander and Lyssa Neel, Crowdmark’s chief operating officer and a former MI project manager. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
James Colliander, a professor at the University of Toronto, found himself staring at about 5,000 pages of papers from a national math exam. Traditionally, a cadre of markers would sit around a large table for marathon grading sessions, assembly line style, each one tackling the answer to one question before passing it on to the next marker.
Mr. Colliander hacked together an expedient: He scanned the pages into a software framework and distributed them to markers digitally. He was essentially able to parallelize the marking process.
“The markers didn’t all have to be in the same place, so they could move much faster,” says Lyssa Neel, COO of Crowdmark, the company that, with Mr. Colliander as CEO, has brought the idea to market.
Crowdmark is an online service that takes the idea of distributed marking and scales it to an institutional level.
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.
Program’s second cohort includes eQOL, E-Twenty Development, Root2Crown, Treata Smart Solutions and TrendMD
TORONTO (May 14, 2013) — Five companies tackling pervasive healthcare challenges — such as assessing dental health, helping patients and medical personnel navigate hospitals with greater ease, staying current with medical literature, or creating digital tools to help care for the elderly or those with chronic health conditions — have been admitted to the University of Toronto Early Stage Technology (UTEST) program’s second cohort.
UTEST, supported by the University of Toronto’s Connaught Fund, Innovations & Partnerships Office (IPO) and MaRS Innovation (MI), is part of a growing system of incubators and commercialization support services at U of T.
Two companies in UTEST’s second cohort, E-Twenty Development Inc. and Treata Smart Solutions Inc. are participating in Canada 3.0 at the Metro Convention Centre May 14 and 15, 2013, in Toronto.
This announcement was covered in PE Hub.
Each company will receive up to $25,000, incubation space in the MaRS Discovery District, mentoring and business strategy support to develop protectable intellectual property, launch their products and gain market traction. They are also eligible to become clients of MaRS Discovery District’s ICE or Healthcare practices.
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. The program is co-directed by Kurtis Scissons (U of T IPO) and Dr. Lyssa Neel (MI).
The second cohort has big shoes to fill. UTEST’s first cohort has collectively secured over $1.2 million in follow-on funding and currently employs 29 highly skilled people (HQPs). Each company also filed solid patent protection and most have secured customers. Notably, Whirlscape’s Indiegogo campaign secured over $87,000 in crowd-sourced product funds from nearly 10,000 users, and was featured in the Financial Post, TechCrunch, Mashable and The Verge, among other global media outlets.
MaRS Innovation’s (MI) Lyssa Neel, co-director of the UTEST program and project manager, has been selected to represent MI’s ICT start-up companies at the TechWomen Canada program in San Francisco, which runs May 13 to 16, 2013.
The announcement was covered in TechVibes:
TechWomen Canada is run by the Canadian Consulate and is focused on providing Canadian women leaders in the ICT sector an opportunity to expand both professional and business networks in Silicon Valley.
“There is a path somewhere between extended study and becoming an office worker,” wrote The Varsity‘s Angela Brock, in “Be Your Own Boss: Student entrepreneurs combine creativity and business to forge new career paths” (February 3, 2012). “As it turns out, there are plenty of opportunities for those looking to flex their entrepreneurial muscles without straying too far from the bosom of U of T.”
Brock’s article describes UTEST, the joint U of T-MaRS Innovation program that helps students, faculty and recent alumni commercialize software ideas.
Students, faculty and recent alumni with software ideas must apply by Feb. 22
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 District, mentoring 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.
Shotlst is one of six inaugural UTEST companies; next UTEST application round to begin shortly
What if you could turn on Microsoft Word’s “track changes” tool and apply it at will to the world around you?
Sound like science fiction?
Meet Matt Ratto, a professor in the University of T’s Faculty of Information, and Mike Borg, a recent graduate of the faculty. They’ve formed Shotlst, a new software company being incubated by the University of Toronto Early Stage Technology (UTEST) program.
The central metaphor of Shotlst is the “shot list,” a list of scenes a film director plans to get each day on a movie set. It serves to organize the cast and crew’s time and activity for the day.
For example, an architect might take pictures of a cardboard model of a building, 3-D renderings and, later, the actual construction site. These shots would serve as raw material that colleagues could use to annotate and collaborate using the software.
TORONTO, ON – A new program that provides nascent software companies with start-up funds, work space, mentoring and business strategy support, was launched today by the University of Toronto and commercialization partner MaRS Innovation, with support from the MaRS Discovery District.
The new program, called University of Toronto Early Stage Technology (UTEST), is part of a growing ecosystem of incubators and commercialization support services at U of T, including the newly-launched Banting and Best Institute. UTEST is unique among campus incubators in that its companies receive start-up funds—$30,000 each in this inaugural year—and because it accepts companies in the very earliest stages of idea generation, before they’re ready for traditional incubators.