Four startups from The Entrepreneurship Hatchery and Start@UTIAS have received a total of $180,000 from the Ontario Centres of Excellence’s SmartStart Seed Fund. The funding will help the young companies take the next steps in bringing their innovative products to market. All four recipients won prizes at the Hatchery’s Demo Day last fall, and several are building on $55,000 in support from the Start@UTIAS incubator program.
“I am very proud of the accomplishments of all our Hatchery teams,” said Joseph Orozco, executive director of the Hatchery, one of U of T Engineering’s accelerators for student business ventures. “Not only does this funding come at the right time for the startups to continue their entrepreneurial journey, it also provides an important message of a strong and lively entrepreneurial ecosystem in our province. Entrepreneurship is a key element of innovation and here at the Hatchery we are facilitating that process to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.”
The grant recipients are:
- TeleHex ($60,000) — The company makes an all-in-one tool for adjusting the hexagonal-shaped sockets on most standard bicycles. The telescoping instrument automatically selects the right size, making bike repairs simpler and faster.
- MedChart ($60,000) — MedChart does the legwork of obtaining medical records from all of their clients’ health-care providers and uploading them into a secure, cloud-accessible platform. The goal is to simplify and improve the flow of medical information.
- Kepler Communications ($30,000) — This company aims to use small data-transmission satellites to build a space-based communications network. This will allow other satellites to transmit or receive data even when they’re not near a ground station, reducing data blackouts and improving the flow of space-based information.
- Pillsy ($30,000) — Pillsy has created a Bluetooth-enabled “smart pouch” that helps women remember to take their birth control pills.
Three of the teams (Kepler, MedChart, and Pillsy) also received support from Start@UTIAS, an entrepreneurial incubation program at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies. Created by a $1 million donation from entrepreneur and alumnus Francis Shen (MASc UTIAS 8T3), the program encourages and facilitates UTIAS graduate students to leverage the knowledge and skills that they have gained through their education to create business startups.
The SmartStart Seed Fund is available to Ontario-based startups that are associated with campus linked accelerators such as the Hatchery. Teams led by young people aged 18 to 29 can access as much as $60,000 to match investments in their businesses by arms-length third parties, plus a further $7,500 in professional services. The program is very competitive, with a success rate of only 20 per cent.
“The grant is absolutely critical to creating a strong business around our product,” said Peter Wen, a third-year mechanical engineering student and co-founder of TeleHex. “Previously we’d been focused on the product itself. This enables us to afford patent filing, marketing and the help we need to make TeleHex widely available.”
In the coming months, TeleHex will ship its first units to backers of its Kickstarter campaign, as well as select bloggers and product reviewers. “You should soon start seeing TeleHex make a buzz in the cycling community,” Wen said.
The Hatchery’s programs provide student startups with mentoring from professors and industry experts, as well as access to prototyping facilities, office space and seed funding. All of the teams will continue to access the Hatchery’s resources as they take the next steps in building their ventures.