Markham, Ontario-based tech hub VentureLab has received a $2.5 million CAD investment from the Government of Ontario to establish a medtech stream within its Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI).
HCI is a lab and incubator for hardware and semiconductor companies. The provincial funding comes through the Ontario Together Fund, and follows other recent federal and provincial commitments towards bolstering the country’s semiconductor industry and capabilities.
“Hardware and semiconductors underpin virtually all modern devices, and … they are especially key in healthcare technologies.”
Melissa Chee, VentureLab
According to VentureLab, the funding will enable the tech hub “to support made-in-Ontario medical solutions and will strengthen Ontario’s MedTech sector and technical capacity to fight COVID-19 and respond to future pandemics.”
“Hardware and semiconductors underpin virtually all modern devices, and as we navigate our new normal, they are especially key in healthcare technologies, along with other sectors critical to economic recovery and growth,” said VentureLab President and CEO Melissa Chee.
VentureLab claims FedDev Ontario-backed HCI is “Canada’s only lab and incubator for founders building hardware and semiconductor-focused projects. Amid a sector that typically entails lengthy entry and scaling timelines, HCI aims to help tech companies to accelerate their time to market. HCI first opened in 2020. Since then, it has supported 24 Ontario-based hardware and semiconductor companies.
The provincial capital builds on the $9.7 million in funding VentureLab has received over the past few years for HCI through FedDev Ontario, which includes a $5 million from July 2019 and the $4.73 million promised in May 2021. It also comes a few months after VentureLab secured $1.5 million from the Regional Municipality of York to expand HCI.
Canada’s federal government has made a number of recent commitments to help address the global chip shortage, build on Canada’s existing semiconductor strengths, and bolster the country’s supply chain.
Earlier this year, the Government of Canada announced plans to invest a total of $240 million to strengthen the country’s semiconductor and photonics design and production capabilities. This total includes $150 million towards the newly created Semiconductor Challenge Callout fund, provided through the Strategic Innovation Fund, for targeted investments in semiconductor development and manufacturing, as well as a $90 million investment towards the existing Ottawa-based Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre.
At the time, François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s minister of innovation, science, and industry, said that funding stems from the government’s goal to turn Canada into “a strategic global leader in the semiconductor industry.”
This was followed by a further $45 million allocated by the federal government over four years as part of its 2022 budget, to engage stakeholders, conduct market analysis, and support semiconductor projects.
These moves follow calls from tech sector stakeholders to advance the country’s semiconductor industry, a push that led to the creation of the national Semiconductor Council last year. VentureLab’s Chee is notably a founding member of this council.
These investments and the launch of this council come during an ongoing global shortage of semiconductor chips, which are used in everything from cars, to game consoles, and home appliances. In order to thrive, Canada’s semiconductor sector requires investment and innovation as it contends with a number of challenges, ranging from access to venture capital and attracting and retaining talent.
VentureLab plans to use the capital to launch a medtech stream of HCI, with a new medtech lab focused on the hardware and semiconductor needs of healthcare companies that will be located within Vaughan-based medical device manufacturer Sterling Industries. VentureLab also plans to invest some of the funding in expanding HCI’s testing and prototyping capabilities.
Feature image courtesy VentureLab via Vendetta Media.