An entrepreneurship engine in Peel Region

An entrepreneurship engine in Peel Region

Innovation is thriving around Ontario, with great companies emerging all over the province. This post is part of a monthly series featuring the up-and-coming companies of MaRS’ partners across Ontario.

Peter Drucker once rightly said that “Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship… the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.” This is exactly what the RIC Centre in the Peel Region does—it fosters innovation, supports research and helps technology entrepreneurs commercialize their products and services. The question is: “HOW?”










As a member of the Ontario Network of Excellence, the RIC Centre offers a wide range of support services for entrepreneurs, including one-on-one coaching, practical training and networking events. A team of entrepreneurs-in-residence coaches startups, helps accelerate commercialization and guides new entrepreneurs in navigating their business challenges. Some of the RIC Centre’s best events and programs include:

  • Growing Your Business Seminars: This monthly series of breakfast seminars aims to help technology entrepreneurs fast-track the commercialization process. Seminars cover topics such as government funding, intellectual property, business valuation and raising money. The current series runs from September 2012 to June 2013, with seminars taking place on the first Wednesday of every month.
  • Innovate Forward: This 40-minute webinar is designed to spark innovation in advanced manufacturing companies. It includes a straightforward discussion by an industry expert followed by an audience question-and-answer session.

The next Innovate Forward session is on September 27, 2012, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m., featuring Paul Smith from Xerox Research Centre.

  • Startup WeekendThe RIC Centre will be co-hosting the first Startup Weekend event to be held in the Peel Region! This weekend-long, hands-on event is where aspiring entrepreneurs can find out if their startup ideas are viable. The first Startup Weekend will take place next month, October 19 to 21, 2012. Register now!
  • Entrepreneur’s Toolkit Workshops: The Entrepreneur’s Toolkit Workshops are a collection of experiential, hands-on group workshops offered free to clients of the Ontario Network of Excellence. Based on the workbooks in MaRS’ Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, these workshops introduce resources and activities that aid entrepreneurs in specific areas of business growth. In a small-group setting, entrepreneurs work with peers and advisors to think through and design essential components of their businesses.
  • VentureStart Program: VentureStart is a fairly new program that enhances the success rate of startups by providing essential business training for technology entrepreneurs. The program also provides an opportunity to receive matching seed funding of up to $30,000. If you’re an entrepreneur with a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics located in Southern Ontario and you’re looking to jump-start your business, you can’t afford to miss this opportunity.

I love exploring success stories, the result of hard, collaborative effort. Here are a few promising startups that are emerging from the Peel Region.


SMARTeacher is the first software game that uses biometrics like facial recognition to respond and adjust the gaming to each child’s emotions – in real time. The company officially beta-launched an educational math game called Prodigy in mid-June.

SMARTeacher was awarded a Market Readiness Grant by the Ontario Centres of Excellence and also received a $15,000 VentureStart Grant. SMARTeacher has been a client of the RIC Centre, working with the entrepreneurs-in-residence to solidify their business plan, revenue model and pro-forma financials. This is one growing company that needs to be watched for sure.


Openaxyz is a collaborative, enterprise-wide software toolset that links ideas and strategies with execution, performance measurement, collaboration and knowledge management. The openaxyz method and toolset were developed and applied at organizations such as the Deloitte iZone, Barclays, Xstrata and Sasol, as well as the Development Bank of Southern Africa.

The RIC Centre provided openaxyz with beta-client opportunities that not only provided valuable user feedback, but also created a foundation and references to onboard future clients. The feedback from RIC Centre advisors and entrepreneurs-in-residence created a very focused go-to-market strategy, resulting in the appointment of the first strategic partner for the African region (CXO Advisors, an Ovum partner), representing a pipeline of 400 enterprise-sized clients.


Rivalries has created disruptive technology that solves the problem of “difficult to recycle” plastics or “uncyclables.” The Rivalries solution converts plastics that are currently crowding landfills into useful materials. After working with the RIC Centre’s entrepreneurs-in-residence to fine-tune their business model and plan, the company received $5,000 from the Regions Alliance Service Fund, enough to move forward with their intellectual property.


While I’ve only listed three companies here, there are many more startups coming out of the Peel Region. I can firmly say that the RIC Centre is indeed Peel Region’s hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.