As businesses get the green-light to begin a phased approach to re-opening, it feels like the tide has shifted in this pandemic.
In June we’ve seen lots of movement in the artificial intelligence sector, funding for female entrepreneurs, the potential for a huge influx of tech talent and an increased focus on digitizing businesses. Canada aims to come out of the pandemic stronger than ever.
Here are our top stories from June 2020:
OTTO Motors clearing a path to automated manufacturing
Otto Motors, a division of Clearpath Robotics, secured US$29 million in Series C funding. With the rising demand for autonomous robots in manufacturing becoming amplified during the pandemic, the company will work to expand its global network and invest in its core technologies. More information can be found here.
Google doubles down on Waterloo with US$180M acquisition
North, the Waterloo-based augmented reality tech company, was acquired by Google for a reported US$180M. The announcement notes that North's technical expertise will feed into Google's hardware and ambient computing future and that North will remain in Waterloo, joining the team at Google Canada's Engineering Headquarters. Earlier this year, Google announced a massive expansion at its Waterloo facility that will more than double their current footprint in Waterloo while increasing local employment to 3,000.
Helping businesses become digital
Communitech announced its partnership with Digital Main Street as part of a $57 million investment in Ontario businesses. This funding will assist small and medium-sized businesses “futureproof” by incorporating e-commerce solutions. For more information on this initiative, check out our blog.
A massive talent opportunity for Canada
This isn’t a Waterloo story, but it is a story with big implications for Waterloo, the American tech community and companies looking to expand to North America. The Trump Administration has moved to suspend the entry of foreign nationals on H-1B, H-2B, L and J visas with potential plans to force long-time visa holders out of the country, leading companies across the United States to look to Canada as the best option for hosting teams of global talent. It’s time for American companies leveraging international talent to answer some challenging questions.
The rise of video communication
With the sudden shift to remote work during the pandemic, Vidyard has seen 2.8 million new users of their video software and a 400 percent increase in video views over the previous 90 days. Rather than a written message or email, their product allows users to send a personalized video. Check out our Q&A with the company’s co-founder about why they remain in Waterloo as they continue to expand.
On the road to recovery
As the country is slowly reopening and restrictions are becoming looser, experts say that Canada may have an advantage in repairing the economy post-COVID. Specifically, our country can rely on its cohesiveness, address threats, drive down COVID-19 cases and re-establish our economy at a time when the United States is experiencing a significant increase of coronavirus. We wrote about how non-partisan co-operation helped Canada’s government achieve a staggeringly quick response to COVID-19 here.
Venture-capital funding for female entrepreneurs
Sandpiper Ventures will be investing $20 million in female-led start-ups across the country. Danielle Graham, one of the founders, has a strong relationship with Waterloo as the founder of Communitech’s Fierce Founders Bootcamp.
Canada establishing responsible AI development
Canada has joined forces with other nations to establish a framework for responsible AI development. The topics to be discussed include human rights, diversity, inclusion, innovation and economic growth. Waterloo is well-represented with top AI start-ups including DarwinAI and Faire.
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