The University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) incubator, co-directed by U of T’s Innovations & Partnerships Office (IPO) and MaRS Innovation with financial support from the Connaught Fund, has announced five investments in start-up companies from Cohort 4.
The five companies and the diverse sectors they target are:
- Ardra Bio, which is engineering technologies to produce completely petroleum-free, high purity, and sustainable biochemicals for the cosmetics market, as well as for pharmaceuticals and foods. UTEST’s investment was made in partnership with Indie.Bio, a start-up accelerator based in San Francisco that focuses on entrepreneurs building technologies in biotechnology.
- BlueJ Legal, which is creating the next generation of tax research software for tax professionals. UTEST’s investment was made in partnership with a group of Angel investors. The company grew out of a past collaboration on tax law with IBM’s Watson program.
- ConferenceCloud, which develops software tools to manage digital content for conference organization and virtual attendance. UTEST’s investment was made in partnership with MLA48, Canada’s first angel investment fund committed to providing a 48-hour turnaround on investment decisions.
- Knitt, which is developing a smart power outlet for integration in smart homes and offices.
- Hammock Therapeutics, which is commercializing a novel biomaterial called HAMC, developed by the Professor Molly Shoichet’s laboratory at University of Toronto. HAMC is a platform technology that can be used to increase the length of time a drug is effective.
Other UTEST companies in Cohort 4, which received incubation space, professional services and advisory and mentor support, include:
Applications open for UTEST Cohort 5
UTEST’s fifth cohort will use the same application process developed for the program’s fourth cohort, with expanded investment options. UTEST teams will have a three-month period to incorporate and develop their technology, after which they may choose to apply for investment. In partnership with MLA48, UTEST may offer up to 10 investments of $110,000 with the ability to access up to $500,000 in follow-on investment from MaRS Innovation.
“We want companies to demonstrate their idea is scalable while showing us their team’s capable of executing,” says co-director Mike Betts, entrepreneur-in-residence at MaRS Innovation. “Accessing mentorship and business strategy assistance, along with use of the UTEST offices, generated healthy competition within cohort four.”
Previous UTEST companies have collectively raised over $20 million in follow-on investment with one acquisition. Notable companies include Appulse Power (formerly ICE3), Crowdmark, eQOL, Granata Decision Systems, Nvest, Onyx Motion, TrendMD, and Whirlscape.
“We had an excellent response from the U of T community in previous years with over 80 companies applying to join UTEST,” says co-director Kurtis Scissons of IPO. “In June, we will select a short list to present to the selection committee with a target of 15 companies for cohort five. As always, we seek companies building business-to-business customer bases, preferably around operational products with a short term to market.”
UTEST is part of the Banting & Best Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, a growing ecosystem of accelerators, incubators and commercialization support services at U of T, and is supported by the University of Toronto’s Connaught Fund. The companies are also eligible to become clients of MaRS Discovery Districts ICE or Healthcare practices.
UTEST provides a fertile ground to develop fantastic entrepreneurs. The combination of academic and commercialization mentors allows students and professors to develop innovative companies while still accessing the wide range of support provided by the University. University of Toronto and MaRS Innovation make a great strategic partnership for Toronto and Ontario’s tech ecosystem. UTEST has allowed our company to successfully navigate the world of early stage startups and has given us the tools to gain customers, traction, and outside investment to continue to grow our company.
The University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) program is a 12-month incubation and acceleration program co-managed by the University of Toronto and MaRS Innovation that allows selected U of T- affiliated early-stage start-up companies to incorporate, access office space, receive mentorship and access $30,000 in funding, with opportunities to access follow-on funding from MaRS Innovation. UTEST was named one of Canada’s most promising start-up accelerators in an online series by BetaKit, a digital publication that covers Canadian technology, and was recognized by BlogTO as one of the city’s Top 10 Accelerators. For more information, visithttp://utest.to or follow us on Twitter at @UTESTto.
About MaRS Innovation
MaRS Innovation is the commercialization agent for 15 leading academic institutions in Ontario. It provides investors and licensees with a single point to access technology assets emerging from its member institutions, who receive $1.4 billion in annual research and development funding. Supported by the Government of Canada through the Networks of Centres of Excellence, by the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Centres of Excellence, and by its 15 members, MI is a transformational partnership that turns research strengths into commercial opportunities through industry partnerships, licensing and company creation.