Durham Region Sparks World Class Business

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Spark Centre uses global connections to to open international markets to successful local start-ups.
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At Spark Centre, they believe its imagination. But as much as imagination may be the source, they recognize that collaboration is the fuel that brings innovation to life. “Collaboration attracts success and creates the nexus where unexpected and amazing things happen,” says Spark CEO, Sherry Colbourne.

At Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre in Oshawa, collaboration is the backbone of growth. Together with their industry partners and stakeholders, they are building a globally recognized technology and innovation ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs who seek to create competitive, world-class businesses. From Pickering to Northumberland County, they are thinking local but acting global. Countries around the world want to join forces with Canada and Spark Centre is establishing itself as an innovation centre poised to accept these innovations to the eastern GTA through collaborative agreements with international knowledge centres around the globe. With only one year under its belt as a Canada Startup Visa designate, they have attracted interest from 85 foreign startups, representing 6 major regions around the world, to immigrate to Durham Region and grow their businesses. They are also using these global connections to open international markets to their many successful local startups.

The recent award of Spark Centre and its innovation partners, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s (UOIT) Automotive Centre of Excellence (ACE) and Durham College (DC), as one of six Regional Technology Development Site (RTDS) for the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN), acknowledges the inroads the region has made as an innovation cluster. This unique opportunity to be part of a larger network of innovation, is expected to harness the talents across the province and enhance Ontario’s position as a leader in the next generation of mobile technologies. Focused on the human/ machine interface and user experience, the Durham RTDS AVIN consortium will utilize its many local and global connections to advance the development of autonomous technologies. Managed by Ontario Centres of Excellence, the province will invest $5 million through Spark Centre to establish a Regional Technology Development Site for controlled-environment driverless vehicle testing inside the university’s three-storey ACE Climatic Wind Tunnel. AVIN is expected to provide a competitive advantage to Ontario and allow it to reinforce its position as a North American leader in transformative automotive technologies, as well as transportation and infrastructure systems.

“RTDS activity will bring demand-driven AV innovation and commercial-scale new technologies to market in the heart of the Windsor Ottawa Automotive Innovation Corridor,” says Justin Gammage, PhD, Industry Liaison Specialist, University of Ontario Institute of Technology. “Ontario’s evolving cluster of clean energy companies will also integrate AV-enabled technologies with other devices we use every day in the ‘Internet of Things’: new connections with applications for work, travel and play.”

So, what might some of these technologies look like? How about an AI powered in-car natural language productivity and collaboration tool that provides blazingly fast, real-time transcripts of meetings and business conversations? Spark Centre client Meetscribe.io is working on this very innovation and could turn the daily commute into a high productivity extension of the office.

Or, how about in-seat sensors for measuring human health? Perhaps thought leaders at Durham College’s AI Hub can partner with Lakeridge Health and UOIT’s ACE Centre to drive advances in sensor technology and bring this kind of solution into commercial use. The possibilities are endless. But, one thing we know for sure is that through imagination and collaboration, the region of Durham is generating transformative innovations and enabling local SMEs to start, scale, compete and win in the global marketplace.