Municipal government

VentureLab Receives $1.5M From Municipal Government To Develop Hardware And Semiconductor Incubator

VentureLab hopes to attract international semiconductor companies to York Region.

VentureLab in Markham, Ontario, received $1.5 million from the Regional Municipality of York to expand its hardware and semiconductor-focused incubator.

York Region, where VentureLab is based, is investing the money over a five-year period to help the innovation group leverage grants it has received from the federal government through the Federal Health Agency. Economic Development for Southern Ontario (FedDev).

In March 2021, FedDev pledged $4.7 million for VentureLab’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative Lab, developing an initial investment of $5 million that helped establish the initiative.

VentureLab says the Hardware Catalyst Initiative is Canada’s only lab and incubator for founders building semiconductor-focused hardware and products. The program supports companies that produce hardware for artificial intelligence, machine learning, and quantum computing.

“Since launching the Hardware Catalyst Initiative 2 years ago, we’ve worked with the best and brightest minds in semiconductors here in Canada,” said Matt Skynner, COO of VentureLab, in a statement to BetaKit. “We helped them build, scale and bring their products to market by giving them access to equipment that is often too expensive for start-ups. Our multimillion-dollar prototyping and testing lab provides these companies with access to highly specialized equipment and $50 million worth of in-kind contributions from our more than 35 industry partners, in the form of resources, expertise and mentorship.

VentureLab will use municipal government funding to expand the capacity of its Hardware Catalyst initiative to support more Canadian hardware and semiconductor companies. The innovation group also plans to open the program to international companies.

“Chips, sensors and semiconductors are the brains that underpin virtually every emerging industry and technology, from everyday household appliances and electric vehicles, to life-saving medical technologies and vaccine production” , said Skynner. “In total, the global semiconductor industry is worth more than $7 trillion, and the demand for these highly specialized products will only increase as products get smarter and faster.”

“For Canada to become a leader in this extremely critical intellectual property-rich industry and to build a strong and resilient domestic supply chain, we need to focus on laying the groundwork now,” he added. .

RELATED: VentureLAB Receives $370,000 Through Federal Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund

The focus on semiconductors comes at a good time, as the world has faced a shortage of chips over the past year. Samsung, one of the world’s biggest semiconductor makers, recently predicted a 54% increase in profits as the shortage continues.

Canada has a long history in the chip industry and was once considered a leader in the field. Canadian companies in the space include GaN Systems and Redlen Technologies, the latter acquired by Canon last year in a $341 million deal.

Last year also saw the creation of a National Semiconductor Council, which hopes to make Canada a global hub for semiconductor research, design and manufacturing.

Late last year, the council released recommendations on how to build the semiconductor space in Canada. These recommendations included the development of onshore manufacturing capabilities for semiconductors, indicating the establishment of a manufacturing plant.

Renowned Canadian investor Matt Roberts, who has a family background in the semiconductor industry, called many of the proposals good, but warned: “about to build a semiconductor factory…I want to clarify that I don’t think the time could be worse for that.

Roberts cited the expensive nature of the venture, pointing to other countries that are already building fabulous factories. “I think we should watch in disbelief as more countries take on the high initial cost and maintenance of fabs,” he said.

Among the founding board members is VentureLab CEO Melissa Chee.

More than 35 global partners join VentureLab for its hardware incubator, including IBM, Dell, Siemens (Europe’s largest industrial manufacturer) and Silicon Catalyst, another semiconductor solutions incubator. The partners have reportedly committed more than $50 million in resources, equipment, expertise and mentorship for companies participating in the Hardware Catalyst initiative.

The injection of capital from York Region is expected to create 145 new jobs by attracting international semiconductor companies to expand and grow in the region. York Region, located just outside the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), has nine local towns and villages and 1.2 million people.

“Our investment in the Hardware Catalyst initiative will help ventureLAB expand its capabilities, attract the best talent and jobs, and continue to demonstrate York Region as a premier global destination for entrepreneurs and investors,” said said Wayne Emmerson, president and CEO of York Region.