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Boreal Ventures launches $26 million fund investing in Québec’s early-stage deep tech startups

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In partnership with Centech, Boreal Ventures has launched as a new venture capital fund that aims to invest in Québec tech startups at the pre-seed and seed stages.

Boreal has secured $26 million CAD in initial investment capital from Centech, the Government of Québec via Investissement Québec, Teralys Capital, Desjardins Capital, BDC Capital, Hewitt Group, and École de technologie supérieure.

The fund, which will be led by David Charbonneau, aims to support deep tech companies that emerge from Centech, a Montreal-based deeptech incubator, and Québec’s innovation ecosystem more broadly. Prior to founding Boreal, Charbonneau worked at BDC Capital’s Industrial, Cleantech and Energy (ICE) Venture Fund. BDC Capital is notably one of the investors in Boreal.
 

Through its first fund, Boreal Ventures aims to build “a strong deep tech ecosystem” and fill a perceived gap in Québec’s innovation ecosystem among deep tech startups, which sometimes require a longer and more capital-intensive development process than other types of tech startups.

Deep tech is a term used to refer to technology solutions based on substantial scientific or engineering challenges, and includes artificial intelligence (AI), medtech, and advanced manufacturing technologies.

“Cutting-edge innovation is marked by a development cycle that is sometimes longer and requires more capital than its purely software counterparts,” said Charbonneau. “Consequently, there are few Canadian funds available for this type of company.”

Charbonneau added that, despite this, the potential for companies that specialize in deep tech is vast, “and what they create meets the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s society.”

Boreal aims to support Québec-based companies with high growth potential, support local innovation, and highlight the province’s tech ecosystem. It also plans to promote Québec internationally so as to retain talent and attract foreign investment.

Richard Chénier, Centech’s CEO, said the creation of Boreal “will boost the growth fund pipeline by bringing companies to the level of maturity sought by these investors, which is often lacking at this stage of development.”

Boreal plans to target deep tech sectors including AI, medtech, “industry 4.0” (manufacturing technology that collects data and connects robots with other parts of the production process), and connected objects.

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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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