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The Next Wave of ‘Unicorn’ Start-Ups

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Other fast-growing start-ups that fit this description include Farmers Business Network, which was founded in 2014 by Charles Baron, a former Google program manager, and Amol Deshpande, a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist. The company charges farmers $700 a year to share and analyze data about their farms, buy supplies and sell crops. Mr. Baron said the start-up counts 7,700 farms as customers and has raised nearly $200 million in funding.

A company like Farmers Business Network wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago, before the proliferation of cloud computing and the “digitization” of farming processes, Mr. Baron added. Now, farms produce a lot of data, which Farmers Business Network is helping them to process and use to make decisions.

“Agriculture is going through a digital revolution,” he said.

In 2013, when Shan-Lyn Ma’s friends began getting married, she noticed that most digital tools for wedding planning were outdated, poorly designed or cost money.

So Ms. Ma, who previously worked at a site that held flash sales for designer merchandise, Gilt Groupe, started Zola, which offers a streamlined place to create free wedding registries.

Zola now sells 70,000 gift items in its registry. It has also developed tools like online guest lists and R.S.V.P. tracking, all designed to lure more couples to its registry product. The site has been a hit with millennials, allowing the company to raise $140 million in funding and reach a valuation of $600 million.

Zola is one of three companies on the list of potential next unicorns that have been fueled by millennials’ spending. Glossier, a beauty products company in New York, and Faire, an online marketplace for local boutiques and vendors to buy and sell wholesale items, have also grown by largely catering to a youthful audience.

Max Rhodes, who founded Faire in 2017, said millennial women are driving a resurgence of local boutiques. These shoppers “don’t want to drive out to the strip mall and buy the most stuff that’s made as cheaply as possible,” he said. “They want unique products that have a story behind them.”

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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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