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Town hires new director of operations

Entrepreneur Osoyoos Times

The Town of Osoyoos has announced the hiring of a new director of operations.Jared Brounstein, currently working as operational services manager in Osoyoos since January, is taking on the position.
'Jared Brounstein has been hired as the Town of Osoyoos’ new director of operations. (Contributed photo) The Town of Osoyoos has announced the hiring of a new director of operations.Jared Brounstein, currently working as operational services manager in Osoyoos since January, is taking on the position.Brounstein spent the last three years working in the private sector as a project manager for a heavy civil construction firm in Clearwater, the town stated in a news release. “He comes to the town with many years of municipal experience ranging from large and medium to small rural communities,” the town said.The position opened after former director Jim Dinwoodie left in May . . The post Town hires new director of operations appeared first on Osoyoos Times .'

Calgary-based MindFuel receives $2 million in funding through CanCode

Entrepreneur BetaKit

Calgary-based MindFuel, a national organization that offers STEM-related workshops and resources to students and teachers, has received $2 million in funding from the federal..
'Calgary-based MindFuel , a national organization that offers STEM-related workshops and resources to students and teachers, has received $2 million in funding from the federal government’s CanCode program. MindFuel said it has reached 150 million students globally since its launch in 1990 With this funding, the government said MindFuel will offer coding and digital skills training to over 124,000 students from kindergarten to Grade 12. The government added that MindFuel will also give over 4,600 teachers the opportunity to gain skills in teaching coding in their classrooms. “For 30 years, MindFuel has delivered engaging STEM-learning resources that spark curiosity and help students learn valuable skills in areas such as design thinking, nanotechnology, entrepreneurialism, robotics, synthetic biology, energy and the environment, and more,” said Cassy Weber, CEO of MindFuel. “The confirmation of CanCode funding means that we can continue our efforts to engage and inspire future leaders from groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.” MindFuel aims to foster curiosity and education in STEM innovation, design thinking, entrepreneurialism, computational thinking, nanotechnology, robotics to students in K-12. The organization says it has reached 150 million students globally since its launch in 1990. The organization runs several programs and initiatives to fulfill its mandate, including Wonderville , an online portal containing resources that allow students to dive deeper into STEM topics. The program’s games and activities ask students to think critically and develop innovative solutions to problems that are being faced globally. RELATED: Coding non-profit Actua receives $10 million from government’s CanCode program The geekStarter program gets middle school, high school, and post-secondary students to find and solve real-world challenges through emerging STEM. The project-based learning initiative aims to encourage entrepreneurial thinking and includes hands-on workshops and skill-building events. CanCode is a two-year, $110 million federal program, created to support opportunities for K-12 students to learn digital skills like coding, data analytics, and digital content development. Earlier this week, Canada Learning Code received $9.4 million from CanCode, and two weeks ago, First Robotics received a $1.4 million investment from the program. “Technology impacts our everyday lives. Learning digital skills and coding, as well as how technology serves us, will open so many doors to our young people,” said Kent Hehr, member of parliament for Calgary Centre. “Giving all children the opportunity to become tech-savvy and learn coding will further strengthen our success as a country.” Image courtesy Pixabay'

Ontario accelerators in flux after government lapses on CLA program funding

Entrepreneur BetaKit

Following sweeping tech cuts from the Province of Ontario, a large number of publicly funded programs were recently either cancelled or not renewed. One..
'Following sweeping tech cuts from the Province of Ontario, a large number of publicly funded programs were recently either cancelled or not renewed . One such non-renewed program was the Campus Linked Accelerator (CLA), an initiative that for almost five years funded more than 59 academic-related accelerator programs across the province. “The CLAs and OCEAs have become an indispensable part of the feeder system that cultivates the high-potential early-stage startups.”   BetaKit spoke to a number of individuals involved in the CLA program, from funding recipients to those with intimate knowledge of government decisions surrounding the program, to understand what the it meant to Ontario’s tech community. The CLA program was developed by the Ontario government, helping fund or create on-campus entrepreneurship programs at 42 universities and colleges in the province, including Creative Destruction Lab, Velocity, and Ryerson’s DMZ. Launched in 2014, alongside its sister program On-Campus Entrepreneurship Activities (OCEA), funding (for both programs) officially ended in March of this year. Sources familiar with the government program have indicated to BetaKit that public money for CLAs has run dry, with no plans from the province to renew or supplement. The CLA program was one of many that suffered from funding cuts in conjunction with the OCE losing a large chunk of its provincial funding. BetaKit broke the news in June that following those cuts, OCE laid off a significant number of employees , with OCE’s president and CEO, Tom Corr, stepping down not long after. Funding for Campus-Linked Accelerators was originally introduced by the provincial government as part of its Ontario Youth Innovation Fund in 2013. Along with the complimentary OCEA, CLA was created as a two-year program that would help invest an initial $25 million in the “entrepreneurship hubs on postsecondary campuses” that began to pop up en masse at the time. After its inaugural year, the program was extended through to March 2018. According to some of the funding recipients and entrepreneurs involved in the programs, CLAs had a strong trickle-down effect, supporting the Ontario startup ecosystem. “The only reason I started my incubator is because of the Campus-Linked Accelerator program,” said Helen Kontozopoulos, who co-founded the University of Toronto’s Department of Computer Science Innovation Lab (DCSIL) accelerator, in 2015. “We were able to help so many teams across a whole ecosystem because of this CLA money,” she stated, pointing to companies like ROSS Intelligence, and Blue J Legal, which was co-founded by three members of U of T’s Faculty of Law. While the cheques CLAs received were not necessarily large, sitting somewhere around $600,000 to $950,000 per CLA, the program’s model, which required matching dollars and in-kind investment, added a lot of value for budding startups. The funding, distributed through the OCE, was put towards providing access to tools and equipment, delivering training, mentoring, startup funding, and connecting young entrepreneurs with investors. No surprise ending Based upon conversations with BetaKit, the CLA funding running dry came as no surprise to those involved. After being extended to 2018, the then-Liberal provincial government decided to extend the program for one more year, until March 2019. Sources with knowledge of the decision-making process have indicated to BetaKit that prior to the Conservative government coming to power, the provincial Liberal government had the option to extend to program, but chose not to, leaving it open for the Ford government to make the decision. The CLA program was never meant to last, however. The idea behind it was to create an environment that encouraged CLAs to find new and additional sources of funding. “Part of what makes us one of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurship programs is the diversification of the support and funding.” “The Campus-Linked Accelerators program has been an asset to the growth of Ontario’s innovation ecosystem,” said Abdullah Snobar, executive director of Ryerson’s DMZ, which received CLA funding along with the university’s other innovation ‘Zones’. “The recent cuts signal a moment for incubator and accelerator programs in Ontario to become more self-reliant as our innovation economy continues to grow and be recognized on the global stage.” While some of the larger CLAs, such as the DMZ, have been successful at procuring private and other funding sources, multiple sources familiar with the program have indicated to BetaKit that it is the smaller CLAs and communities that will now suffer. Accelerators that received funding spanned the province, from The Forge at McMaster University, to London-based LEAP at Fanshawe College, and St. Lawrence College’s Innovation Hub. The program provided funding, such as $950,000 grant to OCAD University’s Imagination Catalyst hub, to accelerators that often see less support than their more well-known counterparts. The idea was to help them offer support and guidance to startups and entrepreneurs that don’t typically have access to the resources that come with being in large urban centres or well-funded programming. Jay Shah, director of Velocity, who said the Waterloo accelerator prepared for the program coming to an end, told BetaKit, “part of what makes us one of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurship programs is the diversification of the support and funding that makes our activities possible.” He pointed to Velocity’s recently launched venture-fund enabling investors to fund early-stage startups, as well as federal funding and private partnerships that have helped the accelerator financially prepare for the provincial cut. Velocity director Jay Shah. Fellow Kitchener/Waterloo-based The Accelerator Centre, which has received millions of dollars in federal support for its incubation and mentorship programs, told BetaKit that it was also prepared for cuts, but that the CLA provincial funding accounted for just two percent of its overall budget last year. RELATED: As AC JumpStart launches latest cohorts, Minister Chagger speaks on building Canada’s startup ecosystem Smaller CLAs, such as Centennial College’s ACCEL (Accelerator for Centennial Community Entrepreneurs and Leaders), relied more heavily on the provincial government program. Jonathan Hack, executive director of applied research, entrepreneurship, and innovation services at the college told BetaKit that in light of the loss, the college will take on the responsibility for funding its CLA, which will run for another year then be reviewed in March 2020 to assess its usefulness. This will likely be the case for many CLAs. The responsibility to fund and continue running these accelerators will now fall to the post-secondary institutions they are associated with. The challenge, especially for medium and small CLAs, is that those academic institutions are also currently facing major questions around the availability of funding thanks to provincial changes in tuition fees and OSAP. The CLA trickle-down effect A report from 2016 about the CLA and OCEA programs, conducted with support from OCE, emphasized a positive impact from the government’s funding. It found that in the two years since program launch, 2,214 startups were created or supported with the help of CLAs and OCEAs, with 96 percent of young entrepreneurs surveyed attributing a part of their success to participation in a CLA or OCEA program. “I do worry [about] how do we not lose these startups. It’s usually what keeps up at night.” The report, by Sweden-based global innovation hub researcher UBI Global, also found that 58 percent of CLA and OCEA supported startups raised follow-on investments, with the programs reaching more than 280,000 students in the two year period.   “The CLAs and OCEAs have become an indispensable part of the feeder system that cultivates the high-potential early-stage startups that graduate to other parts of the ONE [Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs], including RICs [Regional Innovation Centres] and angel investment networks,” the report stated. However, the report also hinted at the fact that the CLA and OCEA programs were not generating revenue. It noted that the programs “are projected to ‘break-even’ by the end of 2016/17,” assuming that “new provincial tax revenues” would cover the costs of maintaining the programs. The report projected CLAs to “become net contributors to Ontario’s fiscal bottom line” in the years following. Despite the report’s glowing recommendations to continue to grow and fund CLAs and OCEAs, questions around their usefulness persisted. A Globe and Mail story from 2016 found that despite receiving CLA funding, “many Ontario universities have struggled to design effective entrepreneurship programs for students…raising questions about how institutions can meet the government’s hopes for an increase in such strategies.” Some of the people who spoke to BetaKit about the CLAs argued that the cuts to these programs were understandable, with accelerators having ample time to come up with a model that worked over the almost five years the program was active. Others that spoke to BetaKit acknowledged that the program was not perfect, but indicated that the role CLA funding played touched many aspects of the Ontario tech ecosystem, especially when it came to supporting early-stage startups. RELATED: How MPP Vic Fedeli’s “demotion” could affect Ontario’s tech and innovation sector While it is hard to determine the exact effect the CLA and OCEA programs had on the Ontario tech ecosystem en-large since 2016, it should be noted that the programs were also feeders for other OCE and government funding. Having participated in a CLA or OCEA program was a requirement in order to access government funding from the likes of Market Readiness and SmartStart Seed Fund, which have been called critical early-stage programs for commercialization. In fact, the websites for both programs still state (at time of publication) that in order to be eligible, applicants must “currently or previously” be affiliated with a CLA, OCEA, or Regional Innovation Centre, (which includes MaRS Discovery District and Communitech). “With all this change in dynamics I don’t want to lose this [early-stage support],” said Rich McAloney, director of technology management and entrepreneurship for the University of Toronto’s Impact Centre, which also received CLA funding. “So we’ve got to all be startups, we’ve got to find ways to support this, but I do worry [about] how do we not lose these startups. It’s usually what keeps me up at night. And the change in the CLA does have a ripple effect down to that level whenever there are any of these changes,” he said. “We’ll survive without that if we have to, [but] we can do a lot more if that was there.”'

A guide to Singapore’s startup scene for Canadian entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur BetaKit

For Canadian entrepreneurs looking to do business in Asia, Singapore is one of the natural hubs to consider. The island city-state’s economy has been..
'For Canadian entrepreneurs looking to do business in Asia, Singapore is one of the natural hubs to consider. The island city-state’s economy has been ranked as the most open in the world, and one of the most pro-business. The city has a thriving entrepreneurial culture, ranking number 21 on the 2019 WE Cities index of the top 50 cities for female entrepreneurs, (where Toronto ranked nine, and Vancouver 11). Bloomberg reports that over 100 companies including Microsoft are running incubator or accelerator programs in Singapore, and as of 2017 there were over 4,000 startups with over 22,000 employees (up from 2,800 startups in 2003). “Asia is very varied, and very often in Singapore, we could take for granted some of the very basic conditions for empowering women.” -Singapore minister, Grace FU Hai Yien According to Dell’s WE Cities index, Singapore ranks highly because it’s a tech-forward, connected city, with a robust internet infrastructure and government ambitions to become the world’s first “Smart Nation,” with a number of smart city projects already underway. However, the report also cited challenges to doing business in Singapore, including a high cost of living, gender parity pay issues, a lack of accelerators, as well as relatively few female board members. It should be noted, however, that the Singapore government has set up a Council for Board Diversity to encourage women participation on boards. At this week’s Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Summit event in Singapore, local entrepreneurs and leaders spoke about Singapore’s entrepreneurial environment, about doing business in Asia in general and why it’s unique from doing business in the Western world. Local leaders highlighted demographic trends in Asia, including the aging population, as well as the variance between Asian cities when it comes to doing business, as well as how favourable each city is specifically for female entrepreneurs. While the report cited a lack of strong role models, Singapore does have a host of high-profile female entrepreneurs, including Sabrina Tan, the founder of beauty company Skin Inc. , who mentioned her company’s reliance on Shopify in her talk; Rosaline Chow Koo, an LA-raised entrepreneur who runs soon-to-be-unicorn health startup CXA; and Ankiti Bose, the founder of unicorn online retail company Zilingo. The city is also home to unicorn startup Grab , a ride-hailing app akin to Uber, which has raised $9 billion to date. “Singapore does not represent Asia. Asia is very varied, and very often in Singapore, we could take for granted some of the very basic conditions for empowering women,” said Grace FU Hai Yien, Singapore’s minister for culture, community, and youth. While Dell’s report highlighted a lack of accelerators and a lack of female entrepreneur role models, there is a robust startup network in the city. There are at least 150 VC firms in Singapore who invest not only in local entrepreneurs but in global companies. According to data from PitchBook , a SaaS company that delivers data on investments and M&A transactions, venture funding in Singapore has increased from $800 million USD in 2012 to $10.5 billion USD in 2018. The Singaporean government also provides business grants and has matching programs available for local businesses raising capital. Canadians in Singapore For Canadian entrepreneurs looking to work with Singapore-based companies, it can be a friendly environment. English is one of the four official languages, and it’s the main working language. There’s also a large expat community, with over a million foreign workers living in the city. Singapore is also a central hub for travelling to other APAC (Asia-Pacific) centres including Tokyo, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. Canada’s startup ecosystem already has some links into Singapore through a MaRS-Singapore FinTech partnership formed in 2015. Toronto entrepreneur Jodi Echakowitz attended this week’s Dell conference, and used the event as an opportunity to meet with a potential client for her enterprise communications firm Boulevard PR . Echakowitz focuses on helping clients gain exposure in the U.S. and Canada, which is what appealed to a local Singaporean company looking to build their brand in Canada. “We provide multinational technology companies with a local perspective on their global business. We know the nuances of the local market, have good insights on key media and industry analysts they should be talking to, and it’s likely that we already have existing relationships with beat reporters or business writers that align with their focus,” Echakowitz said. “Plus, given our expansive network, we can add even greater value by connecting them with other local resources.” Echakowitz said she has always looked to have international links for her business, as she’s part of a global network of communications firms, PR Network . The network allows her to leverage global agencies in markets like APAC without having to bring team members on board in local markets. It also means she can provide North American support to member agencies who don’t have expertise in those areas. Cultural nuances When doing business with Singaporean or Asian companies, local business leaders highlighted the importance of understanding local nuances. Sherry Boger, the VP of the infrastructure and platform solutions group at Intel, has spent more than a decade in Singapore, Vietnam, and Shanghai. She spoke about the nuances of doing business in Asia, and said she found the most pronounced difference was how important relationships and social settings are in order to get business done. In the Western world as in Asia, having a strong network is important, but she said that in a Western context a lot of business is done transactionally. “In an Asia context, relationships are extremely important and business is done through relationships.” “In an Asia context, relationships are extremely important and business is done through relationships. Western business is transactional, Asia is much more relationship-based,” she said, adding that when she was invited to dinner with a group of associates, her reaction was to decline so she didn’t inconvenience them, but it was the wrong response.   It was noted that colleagues, partners, and customers want to build a deeper relationship outside of work, but those social events are also opportunities to get deals done. And while Singapore is one market to consider assessing for expansion, investment, or finding clients, Asia has 11 cities on the WE Cities index, and Zilingo’s CMO Marita Abraham said the key to expanding across Asia is understanding the nuance that exists in each Asian market. “My first learning has been that you can’t really paint a city or a country within a particular region with the same brush. You really have to investigate, learn, and research each and every region for what it is,“ she said. “You need to also have a scalable playbook of what are the traits of your business and your product that are scalable and transferable across these cultures and societies.” Abraham also advised companies setting up shop in local Asian markets to identify, hire, and empower local leadership that is aligned to the company’s goals, but who can also be a voice for that market. “It’s a fine balance of localization and scale,” she stated. Photo by Julien de Salaberry on Unsplash'

Michelle Obama to speak at Elevate 2019

Entrepreneur BetaKit

Today at Design Exchange, Elevate announced that Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States, will be speaking at its third annual tech..
'Today at Design Exchange, Elevate announced that Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States, will be speaking at its third annual tech festival on September 24. This year, Elevate is expecting 20,000 guests to be in attendance. The week-long conference, taking place from September 20 to 26, will feature more than 200 speakers and interactive experiences. This year, Elevate is expecting 20,000 guests to be in attendance. The theme of this year’s conference will be “Moonshots.” “We are honoured that Mrs. Obama has chosen Elevate as her first Canadian engagement following her incredibly successful book tour,” said Razor Suleman, co-founder and CEO of Elevate. “She has championed women and young people, inspiring millions across Canada and around the world. We are looking forward to hosting Mrs. Obama along with the Elevate community.” Obama has launched and led four national initiatives including ​ Let’s Move!​ , created to address the challenge of childhood obesity ​and Joining Forces ​, aimed at supporting veterans, service members, and their families. She also launched and led Reach Higher ​,​ ​to inspire young people to seek higher education and​ Let Girls Learn ​,​ ​to help adolescent girls around the world go to school. Obama’s appearance will be moderated by Claudette McGowan, chief information officer at BMO, at the Sony Centre, soon to be named Meridian Hall. RELATED: Elevate sending delegation to SXSW with hopes to emulate festival success in Toronto Other notable speakers at the 2019 conference will include: Chris Hadfield, astronaut Sophia Amoruso, founder and CEO of Girlboss Guy Kawasaki, author Anjali Sud, CEO of Vimeo Todd MCKinnon, founder and CEO of Okta Jen Rubio, co-founder and chief brand officer of Away Luggage Akon, founder of Akoin Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO of BroadbandTV Kevin Ma, founder and CEO of Hypebest Ryan Holmes, founder and CEO of Hootsuite Cameron Bailey, artistic director and co-head of TIFF Last year, former Vice President of the United States Al Gore was among the conference’s initial lineup. Other speakers included Whitney Wolfe Herd of Bumble, Michelle Zatlyn of Cloudflare, Yung Wu of MaRS Discovery District, and Karan Wadhera of Casa Verde Capital. This year’s conference will be hosted in over 250 venues throughout the downtown Toronto area. More than 200 participating companies will open their doors to festival-goers on September 27 as part of Elevate Talent. Originally launched in 2017, Elevate will continue to host several featured events this year, including Elevate King West, TD Tech Jam, and Main Stage at the Sony Centre. Image courtesy U.S. Coast Guard . Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.'

Mogo, League partner for health insurance fraud protection solution

Entrepreneur BetaKit

Vancouver-based FinTech Mogo and Toronto-based digital benefits platform League are teaming up to bring identity fraud protection to League users. “Given how intertwined our..
'Vancouver-based FinTech Mogo and Toronto-based digital benefits platform League are teaming up to bring identity fraud protection to League users. “Given how intertwined our financial health is with our overall health and well-being, we are pleased to bring Mogo…to members.” The new partnership between the two Canadian startups will see Mogo’s identity fraud protection solution, MogoProtect, added to League’s member marketplace. The solution monitors a consumer’s Equifax Canada credit bureau and sends alerts through the Mogo app, as well as email, after a fraud inquiry. It also helps to guide users through the next steps to help prevent identity fraud. Founded in 2003, Mogo offers personal loans, identity fraud protection, mortgages, a Visa debit card, and credit scores through Equifax, specifically targeting a millennial audience. The company has launched several new financial products over the past two years, including a platform trying to gamify mortgage management, a cryptocurrency offering, as well as its Mogo Account and iOS app in an effort to embrace a more digital banking experience. League was founded in 2014 by Mike Serbinis, the former founder and CEO of e-reader platform Kobo, which was acquired by Rakuten in 2011. Similarly to Mogo, League was started as a way to transform its respective industry. The company was founded as “the new digital alternative to traditional health insurance,” connecting employers and employees to a variety of options in their health services and benefits. Since then League has raised more than $80 million in funding, including a $25 million USD Series A in June 2016, which included Power Financial, RBC, and Manulife, and $62 million in a Series B round led by TELUS Ventures, in 2018. The company has also expanded to the US and made a number of partnerships including fellow Power Financial portfolio company Dialogue. “Given how intertwined our financial health is with our overall health and well-being, we are pleased to bring Mogo’s best-in-class identity fraud solution to members,” Jessica Gale, AVP of member engagement and marketplace at League said, of the recent Mogo partnership. MogoProtect, the solution that will now be available on League’s platform, was originally launched in November 2017 and was created to address a gap in the existing protection offerings. Mogo noted that more information about MogoProtect is available in the League app marketplace.'

Scale AI receives additional $23.4 million from Quebec government

Entrepreneur BetaKit

On Monday, it was announced that the Government of Québec had granted $23.4 million in funding to Quebec-based Supercluster Scale AI, one of five..
'On Monday, it was announced that the Government of Québec had granted $23.4 million in funding to Quebec-based Supercluster Scale AI, one of five members of the federal government’s Innovation Superclusters Initiative. “The objective is to mobilize universities, research centres, and CEGEPS in the main economic centres of Quebec.” -Hélène Desmarais The money is additional funding from the Government of Québec for the Supercluster, which received $30 million from its provincial government alongside $230 million from the federal government, late last year. With this new capital, Scale AI’s total funding commitment is more than $280 million. A spokesperson for Scale AI told BetaKit that currently the Supercluster is primarily funded by government money, with “some funding from memberships.” This is in light of the fact that the federal government funding is meant to be matched by private sector investment. It is unclear how much of Scale AI’s overall funding is private. BetaKit reached out to Scale AI to confirm but had yet to hear back by time of publication. While it was not disclosed if the new $23.4 million is being received in a lump sum or divided on a yearly basis, Scale AI noted that the funding is meant for the 2019 to 2023 period. The money comes from Quebec’s Ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale (MTESS), and is meant to help train Quebec’s workforce in the field of AI. RELATED: Minister Navdeep Bains announces two superclusters in Quebec “This tangible support from the Government of Québec will help propel Quebec businesses of all sizes into the future, giving them and [sic] international head-start,” said Scale AI CEO Julien Billot. “SMEs and large companies will be equipped to face the revolution resulting from the introduction of AI. Developing IA [AI] expertise ensures an increase in productivity for our businesses and thus benefits Quebec’s entire territory.” The $23.4 million from MTESS is dedicated specifically to support Scale AI in training activities for Quebec’s workforce focused on AI-based business challenges, tools, and techniques. More than 25,000 professionals, managers, and executives are meant to take part in the training programs by 2023. The program is built to update the worker’s skills and prepare them to respond to AI-related economic and business transformations. The courses will be delivered by Scale AI’s academic partners, which includes The University of Waterloo, the University of Toronto, University of Alberta, Creative Destruction Lab, Velocity, and other institutions across Canada. “The objective is to mobilize universities, research centres, and CEGEPS [Quebec’s pre‑university and technical college program] in the main economic centres of Quebec in order to offer a wide array of AI training courses that are adapted to the changing needs of the market for individuals and companies,” said Scale AI board co-chair Hélène Desmarais. RELATED: Digital Technology Supercluster first to announce projects “The presence of leading AI researchers, particularly at IVADO, MILA and its affiliated institutions including HEC Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Montréal, and McGill University, provides a strong influence and a major vehicle for attracting new talent and leading-edge training,” she stated. Last month, Scale AI announced the first four projects of its initiative, which will see companies explore ways AI can be used to reduce costs and improve efficiencies across the board in the consumer goods, farming, telecom, and shipping sectors. The Quebec Supercluster became the third to reveal projects since the government announced the winning supercluster proposals almost a year and a half ago. To date four of the five Superclusters have announced projects , with the remaining hold out being Ontario-based Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster. Image courtesy Scale AI via Twitter.'

The Only Guide to Technical SEO You Will Ever Need to Read (23 Actionable Tips)

Entrepreneur ibftoday.ca

IBF Entrepreneur Online – While technical SEO can seem quite daunting at the best of times, here is a simple truth: technical SEO will do more for your rankings than any blog post or landing page on your site.
'IBF Entrepreneur Online – While technical SEO can seem quite daunting at the best of times, here is a simple truth: technical SEO will do more for your rankings than any blog post or landing page on your site.In this article, we put together a technical SEO checklist for small businesses and everything you need to know about this process.In plain English!However, in order to better understand the intricacies of this checklist, it is just as important to know the difference between SEO and technical SEO, for they are not the same.As you know, search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of tactics and strategies that can increase traffic to your website.In essence, SEO is responsible for how highly a website will rank within search engine algorithms and how easily online users will be able to find the content that you have taken time to optimize.In addition, as we previously argued , nowadays, SEO is more important than any paid campaign if you really want to grow your business over time.But that’s just part of the story… Here is another simple truth: content is king, but technical SEO is the queen.Without the queen by his side, the king will lose the game.It’s that simple!What is Technical SEO?Technical SEO refers to the process of optimizing the structure of a website to help search engines access, crawl and interpret the content on a digital platform.In other words, technical SEO is not concerned with the actual content; it’s main focus is how the website is, for lack of a better word, ‘Google ready.’ Technical SEO focuses on factors such as how your site is coded with Google’s algorithms in mind, namely the structure and speed of your site.As a reminder, as of October 2018 , Google started deprioritizing search results for sites that were too slow.Technical SEO is an intricate process that includes attention to missing tags, broken links or SSL certificates.Don’t worry, we’ll cover each of these critical factors in more detail below!Why Should Small Businesses Care about Technical SEO?Although search engines certainly show a preference for large organization and authority websites, technical SEO is an affordable strategy that can help your company stand out from the crowd and capture placement on the coveted first page of Google results for the specific keywords you are targeting.That is to say, this strategy can help small businesses increase their search engine rankings and use strategic steps to compete with larger companies.Either way, traffic drives everything in the online world and technical SEO can be employed to help small businesses gain more traction in this competition.What’s more, technical SEO can provide a solid foundation for any website and ensure that you have the right strategy in place to support the long term success of your business.What Should Small Business Owners Focus On When it Comes to Technical SEO? 1) Create a Mobile-Friendly Website User-friendly navigation and an appealing design are essential for attracting online users.According to recent studies , 72% of online users are more likely to engage if the website has a mobile friendly design.What’s more, over 70% of the population in the United States uses their smartphone on a daily basis and anything less than mobile-ready is sure to dissuade these users.Most importantly, Google rocked the world in 2016 with their massive update which deprioritized all search results coming from sites that were not mobile friendly.They officially warned webmasters of this update in 2015.Bottomline: it doesn’t matter how amazing your content is in 2019.Even if your website has a great design, if it is not mobile optimized it will never show up in Google search results.That is why this technical SEO tip tops our list. 2.Create a Search-Friendly URL Structure Creating a solid URL structure is very important when it comes to rankings on search engines.Search engines rely on your URL structure to quickly navigate and assess content on your website.However, if this structure is difficult to understand, Google will assume the very same experience for users and mark the website down accordingly.For example, you should have a specific keyword for every page and avoid the use of superfluous words like “the’ or “and” which are articles and conjunctions.Secondly, if your blog has a date in it, forget about ever ranking in Google.Business owners with site URL structure in the following format (you know who you are!): /blog/2019/07/16/this-is-a-keyword.If your blog has dates in the URL, that’s bad for business.First, Google will assume your blog post is related to something that happened on that date.Secondly, Google rolled out an update in 2018 that gives priority to new content in search results.Without a date in the URL structure,  you can return to an article a year later, update and re-publish it on a new date.If you include a date in the URL, your blog will always be associated with the original publication date.Read this article for the perfect URL structure. 3.Install an SSL Certificate “HTTPS” is a protocol that protects the information or any transactional data on your website.An SSL certificate is another element highly valued by Google algorithms.SSL certified websites account for more than 50% of page one rankings on search engines.This certificate is a very affordable necessity for any website that enables any kind of payments.Google has been prioritizing websites with “HTTPS’ certificates in search results since 2014 . If your site does not have an SSL certificate, do it now! 4.Have clear canonical tags for your site As a website owner, you always want to ensure that traffic is directed to the right pages that are in line with your primary objectives from search engines.Canonical tags can make sure that your most important content is not overlooked due to similar content on other pages of the website.But wait, what are canonical tags?If you type in your search bar “websitemagazine.com” or “ www.websitemagazine.com ” both options redirect to “ https://www.websitemagazine.com/ .” To a human, there is no difference between these two pages.However, to the Google algorithms these addresses are not the same.If you haven’t set up redirects for this, Google will treat each version of your site as separate entities which will hurt all of your SEO efforts.Canonical tags are hosted in the header of your website and tell Google which version of a page is the default.Used properly, canonical tags can ensure that there are no issues involving duplicate pages or the same content featured on multiple pages. 5.Use Language Tags Search engines try to serve users with content for their specific region.Language tags are important for this process because they tell Google the precise language being used on a specific page, which enables the search engine to provide exactly the right page to the end user.More specifically, the hreflang tag is a piece of code that helps Google navigate to the page that best accommodates the language of the end user.In simple terms, if your website is dedicated to the US market, but it doesn’t tell Google “this site is in English”, you may never be able to rank organically for any specific keyword, no matter how much SEO include for your site. 6.Make Sure Your Website Can Be Crawled by Google It’s no use having great content if search engines are unable to crawl this content.Advanced search operators can help identify precisely which pages Google is unable to crawl.Why is this a problem?Maybe your website needs to be updated or maybe it’s a brand new site and search engines have yet to find it.Or maybe your developer launched your site in production but blocked search engines from crawling your site.This mistake is more common than you might expect.Indeed, the mistake is so common that Google now offers the option to check whether your site is fully indexed ( here ). If you have connected your site to Google Console, you can check in real time whether Google can index your entire website. 7.Have an XML Sitemap for Your Website Navigation is not only hugely important for users but also for the spiders that crawl your website on behalf of search engines.An XML sitemap is a useful assistant with this process, What is an XML sitemap?It  is a list of pages you want Google to crawl on your site.To be clear, you can still rank in Google without an XML sitemap.But, without it, Google may NEVER fully index the entire website.An XML sitemap is used to simplify this process for everyone and make sure that the most important pages on your website are ranked accordingly on search rankings.Why?Basically, this is because of the way Google works.Google gets to your website by following a backlink you have received.Then Google starts indexing your current pages and any back link you provide to your internal pages.This process continues  until Google has indexed every page on your site with a link pointing at it.But if any pages on your site are NOT linked to other pages, Google cannot find them.To fix this issue, Google now allows webmasters to upload a full sitemap with every single page you want to show in search results in order to get full visibility of your website.You can do that here . 8.Make sure you have enough Crawl Budget for your website Crawl budget refers to the extent to which Google can index your website without degrading the user experience for the actual people visiting your site.In simple terms, when Google sends its automated bots to your site, ‘Googlebot is designed to be a good citizen of the web’ ( source ) So let’s say your hosting provider is not giving your site enough bandwidth.That means your site can only handle so many requests from visitors coming to your website before it slows down or, worse, it cuts the connection to your site from new visitors.This is all too common for example around Thanksgiving Day when some retailers’ websites “go down”. Now let’s say you choose a hosting provider that limits how many users can access your site.A Google bot is comes to your website.If the bot thinks crawling your site will slow down the experience for other users, it will simply abandon its attempt to crawl your site.If you don’t have enough ‘crawling budget,’ you will suffer when it comes to SEO search results because Google has left your site before completing its attempt to fully index it. 9.Always Avoid Duplicate Content As you may know, Google takes plagiarism very seriously.Although placing the same content in different parts of your website is not so serious, duplicate content can destroy SEO rankings.You should never have two pages on your website with the same content.Neither should you ever have content on your site that has been published elsewhere.One obvious way to remedy this problem is by re-writing the duplicate content until every page on your site is 100% unique.How can you test a page for duplicate content?Simply copy/paste some text from a page and perform a search on Google with this text “in quotes”. At its worse, Google may actually issue a manual penalty against your site for duplicate content.Check out this article from Neil Patel which shows an extreme scenario.In the example given, a PR firm copied the homepage text for a new client and released it as a press release which was picked up by many websites.That site got manually penalized and Google completely de-indexed the site (you could not find it AT all in Google). In most cases, penalties are not this extreme.Even so, you shouldn’t risk any duplication and should take extra steps to make sure your content is 100% unique. 10.Add Structured Data Markups to Your Site Structured data is the information next to a meta description that enables search engine crawlers to read HTML code.For example, if you perform a search for a marketing agency, you will find the name of the agency along with other information such as the opening hours or online reviews.You can improve your search rankings by adding structured data markups to make pages on your website more relevant and readable for the crawlers and, especially, to make them show up in local search results. 11.Enable AMP Pages Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are very fast mobile pages that have a stripped-down HTML structure.These pages are prioritized for search results on mobile devices.Search engines like these pages because the format is clear and AMP articles have a higher share rate.AMPs are also very easy to install.If you have a WordPress website or similar, you can enable this feature with the click of a button.So if you want to get an edge over your competitors, simply go to Google and look for AMP plugins which can be installed on your site to render super fast pages for mobile users.A great developer can make your site AMP optimized in a day. 12.Use Proper Site Navigation Tools Google wants each user to know his/her exact location when visiting a website.The easiest way to do that is by providing a simple breadcrumbs structure that can help both users and Google know location.Here’s an example from our own site: While not every website uses the breadcrumb trail, this is a very useful strategy for SEO because it helps Google bots understand the site hierarchy.By the way, there are three main types of breadcrumbs: Location-based breadcrumbs – Show the structure of pages and help users know how to navigate the site.Attribute-based breadcrumbs – Show the relationship between products to help visitors change their approach.Path-based breadcrumbs – Show the path through which the user has come.For example: Home>Blog>Current Page 13.Optimize Your Site For Page Speed According to many studies , the faster the page speed, the higher the organic search rankings.Site loading will often determine whether a user sticks around; search engines pay close attention to this aspect of user behavior.What’s more, improving this speed also lowers bounce rates and increases the rate of engagement.Google has gone so far as to develop an online tool that tells you how your site is doing from a page performance point of view called PageSpeed Insights.Go to this link and run your website through it.If you get a score of 50 and above, you don’t have to worry about your site performance having a negative impact on your SEO results.But if your score is 1 to 49, it means Google is deprioritizing your content.It’s also worth noting that the lower your score is, the worse your results will be.In other words, your search results will be penalized gradually.The Google tool above will give you a separate diagnostic for mobile and web.You should definitely examine each element individually. 14.Make sure You Set Up Redirects Your website structure may change over time.Case in point – you read our tip regarding dates in URLs.Then you ask your development team to remove dates from your site.Changing the URL structure is great, but you also need to make sure you put redirects in place.In the example above, someone who finds your old links can click on them and be redirected to your new page.What happens if you don’t make redirects?Users end up on 404 pages (page not found). Believe it or not, 404 errors are a distinct red flag for search engines.For this reason, you must ensure that any time you change your site’s URL structure you must set up 301 redirects.As a rule, it’s important for users to have access to the most recent version of every page.Anything less is considered a broken link and a black mark for SEO. 15.Reduce Image Sizes You should always try to upload high quality images with a smaller size or number of pixels.This is the best way to avoid large images slowing down your website.If it is too late for that, certain tools such as “Smush” might be needed to downsize the current image on the website.By the way, the Google Page Insights tool we discussed above will tell you exactly what images need to be optimized. 16.Minify CSS and Javascript Here’s how you know whether your development team is good.Use the Google Page Insights tool to see whether your website was properly coded.If your site was designed by inexperienced developers, your page “weight” will be high.In other words, your developer didn’t correctly  code the website (too many lines of code). To fix this, a good developer will need to minify CSS or JavaScript in various ways.This will decrease the page weight for your site, thus making it faster for the end user.For instance, removing white space or unnecessary comments on CSS can free up space.You can even convert hundreds of lines of code into a single line.Needless to say, this is a job for a professional rather than a website owner with no coding experience. 17.Reduce the Number of HTTP Requests HTTP is a necessary protocol to protect information and transactions.However, reducing the number of HTTP requests to your service can speed up the website.For example, you can combine certain files in order to reduce the amount of storage on your server.Alternatively, CSS sprites can optimize images in such a way that they send fewer requests to the server, while inline images save space by embedding the data of an image into the actual page. 18.Update Your Browser Cache Policy Browser caching can speed up your website and you can update the browser cache policy to optimize how this process takes place.Simply put, a browser cache allows you to set certain properties for every session s that the cache works more efficiently.For instance, you can set the cache to ‘no-cache’ which prohibits caching entirely or to ‘private’ which only enables caching for local usage.This might seem a little advanced, but this is precisely where an SEO agency can help you. 19.Avoid Loading Too Much Content on Pages Antiquated coding practice: don’t show a site to an end user until all your elements load in the background.Many small businesses have websites coded this way.Expert developers will show a page to the user as soon as the information above the fold is loaded (what you see at first sight on a page, without scrolling). Then the rest of the page (under the fold) is sequentially loaded.Make sure your site is coded in such a way that the user can see the page as soon as the info above the fold is loaded. 20.Minimize  and Eliminate Broken Links Broken links are links you once used on your website that no longer exist.This happens when you linked to a website that went out of business or to a website that changed its URL structure without setting up redirects for the new pages (tip #14 above). Many website owners disregard the prospect of broken links, even through the chances of having them is extremely high.More importantly, search engines hate these links and most certainly penalize websites that link to broken sources.You should take time to check for broken links and either remove them completely or insert a direct replacement.Tools such as Ahrefs or SEMRush provide 404 reports for any website. 21.Always Link to Internal links Internal links have a surprisingly high amount of ‘juice’ and search engines use these links to determine the importance of pages and pieces of content.Google also appreciates these links because they add to the overall structure and make the site much easier to navigate.If you want a cheap and easy way to boost SEO rankings, focus on internal linking and improve the navigation on your website in the process.Here’s a simple rule of thumb.Every time you write a blog on your site, always link to at least 2 internal pages (e.g., service pages, industry pages, product pages.) The more you link to internal pages, the more you tell Google ‘those pages are really important for my site’. 22.Sign up for Google Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) Every business owner should be signed up for Google Console, previously known as Google Webmaster Tools.This free tool is the one and only way Google can alert you to an SEO issue with your site.Believe me – at one point or another, there will be an issue affecting your SEO tools.Google Webmaster tools can really enhance a website and ensure that search engines find and index your content.Whether you need to improve keyword strategy or HTML, these tools can also provide structure to your data, while quickly and efficiently taking care of many other minor SEO issues. 23.Make Sure Every Page on Your Site has Great Page Structure Page structure is everything in SEO these days.Although long-form content is clearly favored by the most recent Google updates, the structure of this content is equally important.In this sense, you must have the right heading structure with H1, H2, and H3 subheadings in place.Alt tags on images are also important but as a rule, it’s essential to ensure that every piece of content has been optimized for SEO.Final Thoughts As you can see, there are multiple elements and factors to check.This comprehensive checklist should ensure that all the basics are in place.Also, you should notice from this checklist that nothing happens overnight.Mastering technical SEO is often just as much about patience as putting in the time to make these changes.Every little effort helps and every technical improvement is sure to deliver results.Source: Website Magazine . The post The Only Guide to Technical SEO You Will Ever Need to Read (23 Actionable Tips) appeared first on Indigenous Business & Finance Today .'

Communitech, Rogers to launch 5G innovation lab in Kitchener-Waterloo

Entrepreneur BetaKit

Communitech and Rogers have announced a three-year partnership that will see the organizations open a 5G innovation lab in Kitchener-Waterloo. “We’re excited to work..
'Communitech and Rogers have announced a three-year partnership that will see the organizations open a 5G innovation lab in Kitchener-Waterloo. “We’re excited to work with Rogers to bring this leading technology to Waterloo Region and beyond.” With the lab, Rogers and Communitech are hoping to advance 5G technology in Canada, and bring 5G use cases to market. As part of the new partnership, the lab, opening in September, will be developing and launching technology for smart city, Internet of Things (IoT), and enterprise 5G applications. “Canada needs a strong 5G ecosystem to thrive and grow in our increasingly connected world,” said Jorge Fernandes, chief technology officer at Rogers Communications. “Our partnership with Communitech is part of our work to bring together experts from universities, businesses, start-ups and government so our country can lead in the digital economy. This new lab will help bridge the gap between concept and testing to commercialization and market launch for Canadian applications.” Communitech was recently named one of the recipients of the federal government’s investment of $52.4 million in its Scale-Up Platform , receiving $18 million to help the hub develop programs providing coaching, advisory services, and talent programs to help firms attract and retain talent. RELATED: Communitech reduces staff after provincial funding cut greater than anticipated The partnership announced Wednesday is part of Rogers’ multi-year 5G-focused program. At the end of last year, the telecommunications giant announced a partnership with the University of British Columbia to build a 5G hub on the university’s campus. The company also came to a national infrastructure agreement with Ericsson that will boost the company’s fibre-powered network with “5G-ready” technology. Rogers said it is gearing up for 5G commercial deployment in 2020, and recently completed 5G test calls in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver. Last year, Rogers launched its LTE Cat M1 network ( LTE-M ), which it said will help businesses connect and track their assets in real-time using solutions such as logistics tracking, alarm monitoring, and smart metering. “It’s phenomenal to have Rogers, a leading national brand, invest time and resources in building and bringing the future of technology to Canadians with the new lab,” said Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech. “We’re excited to work with Rogers to bring this leading technology to Waterloo Region and beyond.” Image courtesy Communitech'

Jetti Resources raises $642,000 for cleantech mining project

Entrepreneur BetaKit

Jetti Resources, a natural resources tech startup based in Vancouver, has raised $642,000 in public funds, including a $492,500 investment from the federal government..
'Jetti Resources , a natural resources tech startup based in Vancouver, has raised $642,000 in public funds, including a $492,500 investment from the federal government and $150,000 from Innovate BC for a mineral extraction research and development project for the mining industry. At commercial scale, the project could help reduce emissions and water use in mining projects The federal investment is being made through Natural Resources Canada’s ( NRCan ) Clean Growth Program, a $155 million fund created to help emerging cleantech scale and prepare for commercialization. The provincial funding is being made through Innovate BC, an organization representing the Government of British Columbia. “Jetti Resources has been pleased to participate in the NRCan and Innovate BC programs advancing technologies with an impact in a clean future that maximizes the use of our resources,” said Nelson Mora, vice president of engineering and technology at Jetti Resources. The research project will develop a more energy-efficient process to extract copper from regular- and lower-grade ores, as well as waste mining materials and tailings. The government said if this initiative is applied at commercial scale, it could help reduce emissions and water use, while lowering costs for companies. RELATED: Canadian company among finalists of #DisruptMining 2019 Founded in 2014, Jetti has developed a novel hydrometallurgical technology to extract metals of value from mineral ores that the mining industry has struggled to process. The company has raised more than $24 million CAD to date ($18.7 million USD), all of which was from a Series A raised by US investors, in 2017. Disclosed investors in the startup include DNS Capital , Kleiner Perkins , and Zoma Capital . In 2016, the company received a $300,000 grant from the BC Innovation Council, through its partnership with the University of British Columbia. Jetti claims its technology requires low capital expenditure and operating costs, while being able to produce high copper yields. The startup also says its technology can lead to lower criteria emissions and water usage and can maximize resources at existing copper deposits. “The Government of Canada continues to invest in projects that are positioning Canada’s mining industry to lead the clean energy future,” said Amarjeet Sohi, minister of natural resources. “Through strong government partnerships and a commitment to innovation, we are building the sustainable and competitive mining industry of tomorrow.” Image courtesy Jetti Resources'

Lightspeed acquires Switzerland-based POS solutions provider iKentoo

Entrepreneur BetaKit

Lightspeed today announced the acquisition of iKentoo, a Switzerland-based POS solutions provider for small and medium-sized businesses. Terms of the deal were not disclosed..
'Lightspeed today announced the acquisition of iKentoo, a Switzerland-based POS solutions provider for small and medium-sized businesses. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The purchase marks Lightspeed’s second acquisition since it went public on the TSX in March. The Montreal company announced the acquisition of its strategic software partner Chronogolf in May, at the same time that it revealed its fourth quarter and full fiscal year results. “The addition of iKentoo aligns with our strategy to rapidly increase our global footprint, providing us with meaningful scale.”   Lightspeed noted that “combining” with iKentoo will “significantly bolster” the company’s growing presence in Europe . The company stated that nearly a third of its total revenue is made up of European customers since it launched on the continent in 2014. Dax Dasilva, founder and CEO of Lightspeed, stated that iKentoo’s entire team will be joining Lightspeed and that its domain expertise in the markets it serves will allow Lightspeed to accelerate its ability to move its own product into “new international arenas.” “iKentoo and Lightspeed have in common a core strategic objective to provide cutting-edge solutions and a robust product offering to complex small businesses across several continents,” David Clerc and Serge Sozonoff, co-founders of iKentoo said in a joint statement. “We’re excited about the opportunity to combine forces to bring even more innovative products to a broader customer base.” Founded in 2011, iKentoo touts itself as the most advanced iPad-based POS and business management system on the market for the hospitality industry. The Switzerland company operates in over 14 countries, though primarily in Switzerland, South Africa, and France. It boasts more than 3,800 customers spanning chains, food trucks, hotels, coffee shops, festivals, and more. “The addition of iKentoo aligns with our strategy to rapidly increase our global footprint, providing us with meaningful scale in new markets in which Lightspeed previously had a limited presence,” said Dasilva. “We believe their leading POS solution, respected brand name and large customer base of complex SMBs operating in many of our strongest verticals will perfectly complement our product offering and further enhance our growth trajectory.” RELATED: Dax Dasilva on buying out investor Accel to deter Lightspeed acquisition Lightspeed has made a number of acquisitions in its past, including Amsterdam-based ecommerce company SEOshop in 2015, which helped the Montreal company launch its ecommerce platform. In 2014 Lightspeed acquired Belgium-based mobile hospitality POS company POSIOS , launching Lightspeed Restaurant. In late 2018 it also acquired Toronto-based ReUp , and launching a customer loyalty and engagement platform, Lightspeed Loyalty, which launched globally this month. Following its IPO, Lightspeed announced in April that it had received credit facilities, including a new $30 million stand-by acquisition term loan , from CIBC. Dasilva told BetaKit at the time that Lightspeed is always looking out for opportunities of mergers and acquisitions and reiterated the statement while speaking with BetaKit at Montreal’s Startupfest last week. “Acquisitions have always been part of our growth strategy and we don’t see that changing in the future, we are always evaluating our options, and so that credit facility is there to enable those conversations should they reach the appropriate stage,” Dasilva stated, in April. Further information regarding the iKentoo transaction details are set to be discussed during Lightspeed’s first quarter 2020 conference call, which is scheduled for August 8. Feature image courtesy Lightspeed'