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Marijuana firm TILT acquires vape company Jupiter Research for $210 million

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It’s 2019, and the marijuana M&A market is already heating up.

Cannabis technology company TILT Holdings on Thursday signed an agreement to acquire Jupiter Research, a vaporizer-maker, for $210 million in cash and stock.

“We never expected to acquire a hardware company,” Joel Milton, TILT’s senior vice president of software and services told Business Insider in an interview.

But when Milton and TILT’s CEO, Alex Coleman, met with Jupiter’s CEO, Mark Scatterday, “we were really impressed with what they were doing,” said Milton.

Read more: A top marijuana CPA says the ‘bubble will burst’ for weed M&A deals

That, coupled with the “exponential growth” vapes offer made Jupiter a nice fit within TILT’s arsenal, said Milton.

Jupiter booked over $100 million in orders last year, up from under $25 million in 2017, according to a December note from Canaccord Genuity.

The deal is expected to close in the “near future,” said Milton.

A ‘B2B approach’ to marijuana

TILT was created out of a four-way merger between marijuana software company B aker Technologies— where Milton served as CEO — with Briteside Holdings, Sea Hunter Therapeutics, and Santé Veritas Holdings in May 2018.

The combined entity went public via a reverse merger on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) last December and began to roll-up other marijuana companies shortly after.

“We’re a little differentiated from some of our other peers in the market in that we take a much more B2B (business-to-business) approach in terms of how we look at the industry,” Milton said.

Read more: Marijuana companies are using a ‘backdoor’ strategy to tap the public markets — and it’s fueling an M&A boom

Whereas other US-based marijuana companies, known as multi-state operators, are focused on acquisitions that expand their geographical retail presence, TILT is focused on supplying software and services — and now hardware — to marijuana dispensaries.

TILT acquired Blackbird, a marijuana distribution and software company in December.

“So rather than solely focused on opening retail stores, we’re really focused on providing solutions to the whole industry,” Milton said, adding that the Jupiter acquisition is an “unbelievable” way to expand TILT’s reach into a new category.

“When you look at the data within the states [where marijuana is legal], vaporizers are growing rapidly,” Milton said. “When you have that growth within a market over time plus new markets, you get exponential growth. And quite frankly we have really, really high expectations for what the vaporizer market’s going to look like.”

Vape companies, whether used for marijuana or otherwise, have been prime acquisition targets in recent weeks. Altria, the tobacco-maker behind Marlboro, sank $12.8 billion into a 35% stake of Juul, a popular e-cigarette maker in December.

Marijuana is legal in Canada and for adult use in 10 states, and medical use in 33. In December, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said legalizing the adult use of marijuana is one of his top legislative priorities for next year.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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