Monthly Archives: August 2014

rsz_flybitslogo_hires-01TORONTO, 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 PostTechVibes, Fortune Magazine‘s Term Sheet Blog (Dan Primack)BetaKit, 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.

Flybits’ intuitive visual platform is so easy to use that users can build unique contextual experiences without sophisticated IT or other technical integration. Flybits’ goal is to build a platform that allows anyone to create context-aware mobility experiences without worrying about semantic analysis or context processing.

“Flybits is a great example of how innovation is becoming global and borderless,” said Mr. Werner Wnendt, German Ambassador to Canada. “Connecting industrial powers like Bosch in Germany to a unique and promising Canadian university start-up is a very exciting, innovative collaboration between Germany and Canada. It shows how fruitful the cooperation of our two countries is in the sphere of science and technology. I had an opportunity to visit Flybits last year and I am pleased that Bosch has decided to accelerate its growth.”

About Flybits
Flybits is a young and hyper-innovative software company based in Toronto with smaller offices in London and New York. Flybits develops tools that allow users to create predictive and context-aware computing environments for mobile, wearable and connected devices. Flybits leverages the exponential growth of data, augments it with sensing capabilities and enables its users to intuitively create and customize a unique contextual experience for their entity of interest.

About Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH (RBVC)
RBVC is the corporate venture company of the Bosch Group, a leading global supplier of technology and services. RBVC invests worldwide in innovative start-up companies at all stages of their development. Its investment activities focus on technology companies working in areas of business of current and future relevance for Bosch above all automation and control, energy and environment, enabling technologies, and healthcare. RBVC also invests in services and business models as well as new materials that are relevant to the above-mentioned areas of business.

About Trellis Capital Corporation
Trellis Capital Corporation (Trellis) is a private venture capital fund that invests in small to mid-sized Canadian companies in select technology-based sectors. Trellis’ investment activities focus on innovative companies with highly scalable and capital efficient business models that have the potential to be disruptive in their respective markets. Trellis provides capital, expertise, and a network of contacts to the companies it invests in, as well as assists in their expansion into emerging markets if the opportunity exists. www.trelliscapital.com

About MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund
The Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) (@MaRSIAF) provides seed funding to qualified emerging companies in Ontario. A critical component of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), the IAF supports the launch and development of innovative companies in Ontario’s priority sectors of information technology, advanced materials and manufacturing, cleantech and life sciences.

About Ryerson Futures
Ryerson Futures Inc. (RFI) is a Founders First Accelerator program connected to the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University, focused on assisting early stage technology companies as they grow and scale. RFI manages a venture fund and provides seed financing, advisory services and customer connections to select startups in exchange for an equity stake. Since 2010, RFI and the DMZ have incubated over 130 startups that have raised in excess of $40m in funding.

About MaRS Innovation
As the commercialization agent for 15 of Toronto’s and Canada’s top universities, hospital and research institutions, MaRS Innovation (MI) works on the behalf of its members to take their most promising research breakthroughs from the lab bench to the market.

RC4 Office

Building on Ryerson’s successful model of entrepreneurship, innovation, and experiential learning, the Ryerson Centre for Cloud and Context-Aware Computing (RC4) brings together mobile technologies, predictive software, and internet connectivity to match services with our individual needs and preferences. For example, location and time are basic attributes that can be used to allow e-commerce applications to notify a shopper of sales as they enter a mall, directing them to where the item is located. Going one step further, by adding the information from your calendar, the retailer may offer a reduced price on formalwear if you have a formal event scheduled.

 

RC4 Office

Inside the RC4 Lab

 

Cloud-based applications are reshaping every sector. For example, software-as-a-service companies such as Salesforce offer CRM software that can be accessed anywhere and scaled without any additional hardware required by the user. These types of cloud services can create greater efficiencies by improving user accessibility and streamlining processes.

Located in downtown Toronto, RC4 provides the infrastructure and experts necessary to create new collaborations, knowledge, and jobs, with the support of Federal Development Agency of Southern Ontario (FedDev). The Centre’s Chief Scientist is RTA School of Media Professor Hossein Rahnama, who founded the start-up Flybits and was selected as one of MITs 35 Innovators Under 35. RC4 will connect researchers across disciplines with industry partners to support research-driven start-up companies. “RC4 is excited to be open and accepting applications to join our community,” says Rahnama. “We believe building strong ties between industry and academia is critical for the future productivity and prosperity of the Canadian economy.” Exciting projects are already at various phases of development at RC4 including several context-aware software applications that respond to situational factors and personal information, such as “Go Mobile,” “CAVALIS,” and healthcare systems that respond to body signals and biometrics.

RC4 also operates two additional nodes. The Ryerson Transmedia Centre, led by Richard Lachman, Associate Professor in Digital Media, combines communications and electronic media to create content for multiple platforms. A new node focused on 3D printing and advanced manufacturing partners emerging companies with researchers such as Ali Mazalek, Canada Research Chair in Digital Media. These two nodes add to RC4’s state-of-the art facilities, offering services to researchers and industry partners across many vertical markets.

Bringing the right private and government partners to the table is vital for the Centre’s success. Wendy Cukier, Vice-President, Research and Innovation at Ryerson believes that collaborative communities like RC4 “will help create market-driven projects that build companies, create jobs, and make our innovation economy a truly world-class ecosystem. This is especially true for new and emerging technologies such as cloud and context-aware computing, 3D printing, and big data analytics, which are transforming virtually every sector — transportation, health, retail, entertainment, manufacturing and more.”

Matthew Kyan, Assistant Professor in Electrical Engineering, has begun several projects at RC4. Along with colleagues he is developing innovative mixed-reality frameworks for Canada’s cultural heritage sector.  Working with AWE Company Ltd. and the City of Toronto, virtual re-enactments from the Battle of 1812 can now be experienced through tablet devices, embedded into their natural environments. “The cloud is used to establish visual context and ultimately to deploy such experiences, creating the next generation of immersive entertainment,” says Kyan.  He is also working with Toronto-based startup Synaptop, a cloud-based operating system that unlocks a host of sharing and collaborative possibilities for traditional desktop-style workflows. The goal is to build intelligence into cloud-based services supporting audio-visual content creation. Kyan says,”For industries generating massive amounts of data, intelligent processing is key.”

Poised to be a multi-trillion dollar industry, the possibilities for enhanced digital communications, entertainment, and service delivery are endless for cloud and context-aware computing technologies. RC4 is at the forefront of the digital revolution, positioning Southern Ontario as a global leader in this emerging sector.

For more information about RC4 and how your company can benefit from its services, contact jarrod.ladouceur@ryerson.ca

Ryerson Centre for Cloud and Context-Aware Computing (RC4) is Ryerson’s newest research and commercialization centre. Ryerson showcased its RC4 hub and cloud infrastructure to almost 130 government partners, researchers, and representatives from private industry and start-ups, bringing them together for the first time at the celebratory event hosted on March 25, 2014.1397151347642

The Centre focuses on mobile technologies, predictive software, and internet connectivity to customize content delivery to meet user needs. With funding support received from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev), the Centre’s mission is to create knowledge, commercialize research, create jobs, and stimulate productivity and performance in Southern Ontario.  It currently has more than 50 researchers, companies, and industry partners working across multiple disciplines.

“RC4 is the latest development in Ryerson’s Research and Innovation strategy,” said Wendy Cukier, Vice-President, Research and Innovation. “We facilitate collaboration between industry, government, and academia.” RC4 is interdisciplinary and leverages the value of both the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and SSH (Social Sciences and Humanities) fields. “Not only are we developing and commercializing tools, we are working with end user organizations large and small to effectively use these tools to improve productivity and innovation.”

Hossein Rahnama, chief scientist of RC4, spoke at the event and described how technologies developed at RC4 are transforming the way industries operate across verticals including manufacturing, transportation, health, public safety and consumer applications.

Stephen Erwin, head of the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO)’s Intelligent Transportation Systems spoke at the event about the MTO’s partnership with Rahnama and RC4. He remarked on the incredible innovation that resulted in CAVALIS, a software framework that delivers easy-to-use and customized traveller information services. “The RC4 team developed an application that is very valuable for users in their day-to-day lives. We worked with a phenomenal team that brought energy, excitement, and all kinds of new approaches to the work we do,” says Erwin.

Richard Lachman, Director of the Transmedia Centre at Ryerson, described its role as a node in the RC4 network. “The Transmedia Centre does a lot of work supporting new forms of storytelling on new platforms. We use context-awareness computing to customize content for people based on who they are, where they are, and what they are doing.” For instance, Lachman created ScopifyROM, a digital application developed in partnership with industry partner Kensington Communications for the Royal Ontario Museum. ScopifyROM allows visitors to access behind-the-scene videos on their personal devices, providing a more in-depth experience of the larger stories behind the artefacts.

Other speakers included:

Matt Kyan (Program Director, Masters in Digital Media) who described several of his cloud-based solutions including Beyond 4 Colours, which customizes design and printing needs, and Synaptop, an operating system that supports virtual collaboration during audio-visual content creation.

Srinivas Krishna (Founder and President, AWE Company) who worked with Kyan, Ling Guan (Canada Research Chair in Multimedia and Computer Technology), and He Yifeng (Assistant Professor Electrical and Computer Engineering) to develop the Time Tablet™. This technology powers an immersive 3D mixed reality experience, allowing computer generated objects and characters to interact with users in real-world space. For instance, at Fort York visitors can access videos placed strategically throughout the tour on their Time Tablet™, which transports them back in time to experience Fort York in its prime.

Yashodhan Athavale(Research Engineer) who presented on behalf of his supervisor Sri Krishnan (Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Signal Analysis) about the collaboration between RC4 and the Signal Analysis Research (SAR) Lab. By analyzing human biological signals the team is developing and early warning system for heart attacks.

David Didur (Co-Founder, Think2thing Inc.), based in RC4’s Advanced Manufacturing and 3D Printing Lab node, spoke about the transformative effects of cloud-based 3D printing services for design and manufacturing.

Ali Mazalek (Canada Research Chair in Digital Media and Innovation) showcased her research using digital technologies to create human-computer interfaces that will improve our ability to understand and think about complex problems. This human-centred perspective will allow people to manipulate physical objects on tangible interfaces to create computer-based 3D designs.

The event highlighted RC4 as a gateway to advanced computing and a forum for creating collaborative partnerships that are critical to the success of positioning Ontario-based companies as leaders in this emerging global industry.RC4 consists of the hub located at Dundas and Yonge as well as three nodes around Ryerson including the Ryerson Transmedia Centre, the recently founded Advanced Manufacturing and 3D Printing Lab, and the Ryerson Ubiquitous and Pervasive Computing Lab (UPCL).

For more information about RC4 and how your company can benefit from its services visit rc4.ryerson.ca/ or contact jarrod.ladouceur@ryerson.ca