Government invests $1.1 million seed funding into STEM startups

The federal government has provided $1.1 million to the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) today to fund 30 startups in the science, technology, education, and medical (STEM) fields, Conservative MP Kellie Leitch announced today.

The funding comes from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and was part of other announcements taking place across Canada today, according to Leitch. Almost $5 million in total was announced in support of startups. The money will be parceled out in $35,000 bundles to fund STEM graduates who endeavor to become entrepreneurs. The money isn’t a loan, but an investment in the firms, Leitch says.

“There’s a need to focus on students in this area,” she says. “These different projects function to encourage young people to enter into these fields. We also want to make sure Canada is on the cutting edge in the world to do business.”

While the government is supplying the funding, OCE is picking the businesses to receive it in Ontario. Dubbed the SmartStart fund, nine initial startups were announced as funding recipients. Two of them were on display in Toronto last week as part of Extreme Startup’s Demo Day, and both were asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding.

“Every piece of support helps,” Leitch says. The program is also about ensuring STEM graduates are well mentored in their businesses. “I’m a physician and they actually didn’t teach us business skills so if we had a good idea we could get it to the marketplace,” she says.

Leitch has some startup experience herself, operating a student moving business called “Student Express” when she was an undergraduate. She was lucky to have a mentor in the same house, as her father was also a small business owner. But not every young medical student has that same benefit.

Funding to startups will be doled out by OCE’s Centre for Commercialization of Research.

Here are the nine businesses that were announced as funding recipients today, according to Twitter posts by the @OCEInnovation account:

  • Bionym specializes in the development of biometric recognition systems for security purposes.
  • ShopLocket helps to decentralize online sales and makes selling anything online as easy as embedding a Youtube video.
  • Granata provides decision support software that helps businesses make optimal data-driven decisions.
  • TapGage helps mobile application developers target their apps to consumers.
  • SimplyUs is a shared calendar, to do list and organizer for couples application.
  • nTerop provides software for police on patrol.
  • Arkli is a platform that enables social media management in any app.
  • Granify provides a machine learning platform, initially focused on e-commerce.
  • GaitTronics develops robotic rehabilitation devices that help patient from the hospital bed to the home.
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