Minuum launches iOS 8 keyboard, expanding product to Apple users

Whirlscape logoWhirlscape, a graduate of the UTEST program’s first cohort (co-managed by MaRS Innovation and the University of Toronto), has launched their little keyboard for big fingers to Apple users.

The software, released to coincide with Apple’s iOS 8 launch, is part of Whirlscape’s larger efforts to develop typing solutions for wearable devices, including smartwatches, Google Glass and other applications.

The Minuum product launch for iOS was covered in TechCrunch, The Next Web and Mobile Syrup, among other tech blogs, and was mentioned in articles dissecting iOS 8′s overall improvements for Apple users (see Yahoo Tech, Mobile Syrup and Digital Trends). (more…)

Whirlscape releases Minuum version 2.11, teases for iOS 8 launch

Minuum on iOS teaser imageWhirlscape, graduates of the UTEST program, made tech headlines last week by releasing a teaser of Minuum, their one-line, mobile keyboard for wearable devices, running on an iPhone.

The announcement and teaser gif were covered in TechCrunch, SlashGear, MobileSyrup and AndroidGuys, among other tech outlets.

From input, the Minuum blog:

We’ve embraced the design philosophies of iOS to refine Minuum into an elegant typing experience centred around our incredibly powerful autocorrect. (more…)

Accel-Rx, the national health sciences accelerator, launches as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR)

MaRS Innovation among founding partner CECRs; Accel-Rx will provide funds to new biotechnology start-ups emerging within MI’s portfolio

Accel-Rx logoVANCOUVER, BC (Aug. 25, 2014) –With the awarding of $14.5M under the Canadian government’s Networks of Centres of Excellence (Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR)) Program, as announced earlier this morning by the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State for Science and Technology, Accel-Rx – Canada’s Health Sciences Accelerator is officially launched.

Media coverage of this announcement: CBC’s Inside Politics blog, IT Business Net, and the Funding Portal.

This announcement builds on the previously announced strategic partnership between BDC and Accel-Rx to fund Canadian biotechnology start-ups.

The Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator is a national organization focused on maximizing new health sciences company creation, and ensuring start-ups have the resources they need to enable them to stay and grow in Canada and give rise to a new generation of strong health sciences anchor companies. Accel-Rx therein brings together five of Canada’s leading health sciences CECRs to foster pan-Canadian cooperation and directly address the health science company creation challenge in Canada.

These CECRs include:

CDRD Ventures Inc. (CVI), the commercialization vehicle of The Centre for Drug Research and Development will provide the initial management to launch Accel-Rx’s operations. BDC Venture Capital, as recently announced, will further advance Accel-Rx’s mission by acting as the main funding mechanism for companies created at and/or supported by Accel-Rx, with the intent to invest in up to three to four companies annually, with that number potentially increasing as the partnership progresses. (more…)

Robert Bosch Venture Capital leads $3.75 million Series A round for Flybits

Toronto start-up to advance context-aware mobile experience platform

Flybits Corporate LogoTORONTO, Canada (August 20, 2014) — Flybits Inc., a Toronto start-up that has created a context-aware experience development platform for mobile environments, has closed a $3.75 million Series A financing. Led by Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH (RBVC) and Trellis Capital Corporation with participation from MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund and Ryerson Futures, Inc., the investment will advance the company’s product development and international growth in the United States and Europe.

This announcement was covered in the National Post, TechVibes, Fortune Magazine‘s Term Sheet Blog (Dan Primack), BetaKit, Yonge Street Media and PEHub.

Since spinning off from Ryerson University in 2012, Flybits has raised a total of $4.05 million to date, including a seed round from MaRS Innovation. Flybits technology has been used in developing smarter cities, connected stadiums, smart corporate campuses, shopping malls, conference venues and even fashion shows. The company also concurrently incubated its technology at the Ryerson Digital Media Zone in Toronto and Vodafone Xone in Redwood City, California.

“Flybits is RBVC’s first investment in Canada,” said Luis Llovera, managing director of Robert Bosch LLC based in Palo Alto, California. “The company has demonstrated a unique and innovative approach in building foundational technology to deliver Contextual Mobility Services for both display-driven devices and for the emerging Internet of Things applications. Flybits’ strong roots in tangible and high impact R&D, their ability to predict the required infrastructure for the industrial Internet and their global entrepreneurial ambitions were some of the reasons we were attracted to this company.”

“Involving high-quality investors such as Bosch and Trellis demonstrates the potential in our unique approach to designing Intelligent Mobility Solutions that are intuitive and scalable,” said Dr. Hossein Rahnama, CEO and founder of Flybits. “In particular, having Bosch as a strategic investor means we leverage their global expertise in software automation, connected communities and sensor technologies as we support new and existing international customers, and scale and develop both our team and our products.”

“Recognizing the Flybits’ platform potential to create next-generation mobile experiences at an early stage, MaRS Innovation worked closely with Flybits to launch the company and secure initial market traction,” said Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation. (more…)

BioCentury features Encycle Therapeutics

Encycle Therapeutics

Encycle Therapeutics, a MaRS Innovation start-up company from the University of Toronto, was featured in a BioCentury emerging company profile by Michael J. Haas.

The company is currently raising a Series A financing round and employs eight people.

Haas’ profile, “Encycle: Oral Macrocycles,” is available behind a pay wall on the BioCentury website.

Here’s a short excerpt:

Macrocycle therapies can block protein-protein interactions that are undruggable with small molecules; however, oral availability and cell
penetration remain key challenges. Encycle Therapeutics Inc.’s chemistry platform generates drug-like macrocycles against validated targets to treat diseases for which oral therapies are needed.

Marketed inhibitors of protein-protein interactions include biologics and other molecules large enough to target the wide, shallow surfaces involved in those interactions, but can only bind extracellular targets. Macrocycles can have sufficient size to block protein-protein interactions yet remain small enough to penetrate cells and block intracellular interactions that
biologics and small molecules cannot.

Founded on chemistry from University of Toronto for cyclizing peptides and non-peptidic molecules, Encycle’s macrocycles incorporate three features that are not all found in other companies’ compounds — the absence of sulfur, the presence of intramolecular hydrogen bonding
motifs, and an upper limit on size, according to President and CEO Jeffrey Coull. (more…)

CBC’s Lang and O’Leary Exchange features Whirlscape’s Minuum keyboard

Whirlscape logoUTEST graduate Whirlscape, makers of the wearable, one-line Minuum keyboard, were recently featured on CBC’s Lang and O’Leary Exchange.

Minuum has also broken the 100 billion pixels mark in screen space saved for its users. Read about it on input, the Minuum blog.

Founder and CEO Will Walmsley was interviewed by Amanda Lang. The footage was also made available on CBC News, and was included in CBC’s weekly summary of the week’s top business stories. Watch the video.

Here’s an excerpt:

Typing on a smartphone is hard enough – imagine doing it on a smartwatch or other wearable device.

A Toronto startup called Minuum is trying to solve that problem with a tiny virtual keyboard.

It’s a downloadable app costing $3.99 that combines a tiny keyboard with a powerful autocorrect that helps you get the message out, no matter how you punch it.

[. . .]

“What really drives us to work on this technology is the future potential it has. The core concept is a keyboard that is just one line of characters, which means if you can imagine typing on a line anywhere, that can be a keyboard,” he said. (more…)

MaRS Innovation and St. Michael’s Hospital revitalizing commercialization process

St. Michael's Hospital LogoFor principal investigators, a key component in taking their research ideas from the bench to the market is knowing what commercialization resources exist and when to use them.

Through the MaRS Innovation’s Technology Transfer & Scouting division (MITTS), manager Sahail Shariff is connecting with principal investigators (PIs) at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto on the front-line to better understand and advance their research.

Of the 180 PIs at the hospital, the majority are clinician scientists who spend a portion of their time caring for patients.

In collaboration with Samar Saneinejad, project director in the Office of the Vice-President, Research at St. Michael’s, Shariff established a research commercialization committee with regular monthly meetings to stay connected to PIs and their research status. He’s also taken note of the time constraints facing clinician scientists, making a point to provide them with more one-on-one time.

Sahail Shariff

MaRS Innovation’s Sahail Shariff walks the halls at St. Michael’s Hospital to provide better commercialization resources to its researchers.

Invention disclosures from researchers at St. Michael’s have increased by almost 50 per cent since October 2013, when Shariff joined MaRS Innovation. He has played a key role in this success and has also helped the hospital to acquire five commercialization-related funding applications and assisted in 12 interactions between PIs and industry members.

“Walking the halls has been really valuable for investigators who have great ideas and have spent a lot of time on their research and inventions, but don’t have excess time to devote to finding the right way to develop it further,” says Shariff. (more…)

The Varsity on UTEST and start-up culture at U of T; Whirlscape launches new Minuum smartwatch demo

utest“Start-up culture is fast taking hold at U of T, with an array of incubators and accelerators providing student entrepreneurs the resources and mentorships required to get their businesses up and running,” writes Ameya Charnalia of The Varsity, the University of Toronto’s student newspaper.

Charnalia’s article focuses on new student-focused incubators, such as the UTEST program, which provide entrepreneurs cash, access to in-house expertise, working space and mentorship to advice their ideas.

It appeared in the same week that recent UTEST graduate Whirlscape released a new demo video showing their Minuum keyboard technology running on a LG G watch, which is also an Android Wear device. The announcement was covered in TechCrunch, engadget, Pocketnow, Android Police, SlashGear, BGR, Mobile Syrup, 9to5Google, and DroidLife, among other tech blogs.

(more…)

Xagenic announces second closing of $25.5M Series B financing

Xagenic 2014 logoTORONTO, July 14, 2014 - Xagenic Inc., a molecular diagnostics company developing the first lab-free molecular diagnostic platform with a 20 minute time-to-result, has announced a second closing of its recently announced Series B financing, bringing the total raised in this round to $25.5 million.

In conjunction with this closing, new investor BDC Capital joined as an investor and Dion Madsen, senior managing partner at BDC Capital, will join Xagenic’s Board of Directors.

From our archives: MaRS Innovation’s lead start-up completes $20 million Series B.

This announcement was covered in Biotechnology Focus, TechVibes, PE HUB, BetaKit, GenomeWeb, Yonge Street Media and CrunchBase.

Shana Kelley, co-founder of Xagenic Inc.

Shana Kelley, founder and CTO of Xagenic Inc.

“Securing this additional financing from high-quality new and existing investors demonstrates confidence in the Xagenic X1™ platform. We look forward to continuing our development program in anticipation of our analytical and clinical study start later this year,” said Shana Kelley, founder and CTO of Xagenic. “Our enzyme-free molecular diagnostic platform will provide significant advantages in patient care by bringing nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT)-like performance to the physician office with a testing time of 20 minutes.” (more…)

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