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Who's Hiring in Toronto? Corporate Knights, CSI, and more

The most interesting of the opportunities we've seen this week:

A few sustainability organizations are looking for help right now, starting with not-for-profit TREC Renewable Energy Co-operative. They are currently seeking a part-time communications coordinator with a minimum of two to three years of experience.They have also issued an RFP for website design and development, in conjunction with two separate research projects they are currently involved in.

Meanwhile, Corporate Knights, a magazine with a focus on environmentally sound businesses, is looking for freelance writers with some background in journalism and some story ideas ready to pitch.

Finally, in environmentally friendly transportation, non-profit Bikechain, which provides free training in bicycle repair, is hiring an educational bike mechanic to work 10-14 hours each week.

In the media sector, public broadcaster TVO is currently hiring for two related records management positions. One is an administrative coordinator to help with record-keeping, and the other is a separate coordinator to help establish and maintain a records management system. Both posts require at least three years of relevant experience.

The Toronto Centre for the Arts, North York's major cultural hub at Mel Lastman Square, needs a new front of house manager to coordinate with rental clients, caterers, and other third parties involved in putting on events at the venue.

For those with a background in graphic design, the City of Toronto is hiring a two designers to work in the corporate information management services sector.

Finally, two jobs of note at significant urbanist/city-building organizations. Consulting firm MASS LBP (which works with governments on public policy engagement) is seeking a director-level project lead to oversee strategy and engagement for select clients. And the Centre for Social Innovation is hiring a program manager for its Regent Park location to create and deliver programs to help support and expand the impact of members.

Do you know of an innovative job opportunity in Toronto? Let us know!

Flybits closes $3.75M in Series A financing

Toronto-based start-up Flybits—with the help of several private sector partners, the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund, and Ryerson Futures—hopes to revolutionize the way that mobile technology integrates into our daily lives and into the texture of our cities.

They’ve created a platform that helps bring a huge variety of data and apps together into a seamless experience, and they’ve just closed a major round of Series A financing that will enable them to double their 16-staff complement within a year.

When people talk about the kind of apps they wish they had, says Flybits CEO and founder Hossein Rahnama, they often describe tools that are context-sensitive and responsive: in an ideal world, for instance, your alarm clock would not only know your schedule but also know if your boss was running late, and know when to wake you up to accommodate both of those facts. Flybits has created a platform that aims, eventually, to do just that: it’s a context-aware platform that integrates information from a wide variety of sources and apps, and customizes the information it provides to an individual user based on his or her needs.

We’ve heard about apps like these before: the fridge that emails you a grocery list based on what’s left inside, for instance. “If you want to develop these applications,” says Rahnama, “you typically need to go to an app developer…who builds a very monolithic, non-scalable application.”

What distinguishes Flybits is that it aims to build a platform that is flexible and user-driver, rather than developer-driven: one where, he goes on, “rather than enabling engineers to build apps we enable people to build apps for their own experiences; you own that experience, you built it for yourself.”

To make this all more concrete, says Rahnama, imagine a Toronto app for Pan-Am visitors. It would start as your airport assistant (understanding your itinerary), and as you took the Union-Pearson Express it would become your transit assistant; then once you arrived at Union it would serve as your navigator—one continuous experience that eliminates the need to switch from app to app, and which could deliver all the information in whatever language you (as a traveller to Toronto) find most useful.

So far Flybits’ focus has been focusing on serving corporate clients, to allow the start-up to monetize and grow. (Among those clients are the City of Ottawa, GO Transit, and the provincial ministry of transportation.) They plan to open a free, public-facing consumer platform sometime in 2015.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Hossein Rahnama, CEO and founder, Flybits

Giving electric vehicle owners a charge

Electric vehicles have been on the market for three years in Canada. Enter Plug’n Drive, a not-for-profit whose mission is to accelerate the penetration of those vehicles into the consumer market.

One of the biggest challenges in encouraging potential car buyers to go electric is the so-far limited availability of charging stations: if you’re not sure you’ll be able to power up when and where you need to, an electric car can be a tough sell. Which leads to Plug’n Drive’s latest cause: increasing the number of charging stations in condo buildings.

“Essentially for the past 20 years Toronto has been going through a condo boom,” points out Josh Tzventarny, director of operations for Plug’n Drive, which is incubated at Ryerson’s Centre for Urban Energy. “Now about 30 per cent of Torontonians live in condos—none of which were designed for electric vehicles.”

For the past year or so Plug’n Drive has been working with Canadian Condominium iInstitute and the WWF to make recommendations for updates to the provincial Condominium Act, which is currently up for review and is likely to come before the legislature in the fall. The Condominium Act only enforces what happens after a condo has been built, however; the best Plug’n Drive is hoping for from new legislation is that it will include rules and guidelines for charging stations should a condo board decide it wants to install one.

“Where the real work needs to be done,” Tzventarny goes on, “is probably the building code—and the City of Toronto is starting to do some work around that with its green standards.”

In the meantime, Plug’n Drive is trying to reach out directly to condo owners and condo boards, making the case that retrofitting a building to include charging stations isn’t actually that a daunting prospect. (They issued a guide to installing them this past spring.)

“It’s really just an electrical job,” Tzventarny says. “It’s no different than installing an air conditioner or something like that.”

Plug’n Drive is also starting to field queries from property managers and real estate agents with clients who have electric vehicles, and prioritize charging stations when they go condo shopping—an indication, he believes, that this is "starting to become more and more of an issue."

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Josh Tzventarny, Director of Operations, Plug'n Driv

Good as New, Good for Business

Pop-up shops are often associated with higher-end retail: up-and-coming designers stocking small spaces with collections that get snapped up quickly. Recently, Goodwill and Newcomer Women's Services Toronto (NEW) launched a pop-up shop with a very different vibe: their inventory consists of one-of-a-kind products, created by participants in NEW's green entrepreneurship program, out of materials provided by Goodwill.

The women who created the recycled and repurposed products—marketed under a line dubbed Good as New—were participating in one of NEW's self-employment training programs.

The idea arose when some of the participants expressed a particular interest in sewing, says the program's faciliator, Deepa Premnath, and the products include clothing, jewelry, and other accessories. The program's goal is to help give participants the skills ito start home-based businesses; the pop-up shop's goal, meanwhile, is to spread the word about that program, and also to give the designers a trial run—a chance to market test their products and see how they sell.

"Our goal in general is to connect people to resources around the idea of self-employment," says Premnath. She freely admits, "it is not a panacea for all employment ills, but one possibility" in a volatile employment market, and one that can be particularly accessible for newcomers, who often face disproportionate challenges entering the workforce.

You can find the Good as New pop-up shop at the Goodwill Islington South Community Store (871 Islington Avenue, Etobicoke).

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Deepa Premnath, Program Facilitator, Green Entrepreneurship Program, Newcomer Women's Services Toronto
Photo: Courtesy of Goodwill

Who's Hiring in Toronto? CAMH, The Big Carrot, and more

The most interesting of the opportunities we've seen this week:

For those with an interest in media, Postmedia is hiring a full-stack developer to work for Postmedia Labs—a small team working within the larger company on rapid-development social products. Meanwhile, Global News is looking for a graphic designer with experience in both 2D and 3D motion design.

Digital studio Architech has a number of openings at the moment, including a project manager, a digital marketer, a U/X designer with at least five years of experience, and a full-stack developer with particular expertise in Java.

In the cultural sector, Kaeja d’Dance is seeking a community outreach animator to provide both strategic and financial direction to community engagement and public participation programs. The Toronto Arts Foundation is hiring an online learning coordinator to develop web content and work on social media; it's a part-time post for someone with at least two years of relevant experience.

If you're interested in food and the environment, local health food store The Big Carrot is looking for food service leader to operate and develop their prepared foods department.

The Pecaut Centre for Social Impact is a philanthropic organization that "invests in high potential charities that are fostering scalable solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing our community." They are looking for a program manager—a position for someone with experience in entrepreneurial investment, and preferably social enterprise.

And finally, the CAMH Foundation, which raises funds for the mental health hospital, is hiring a manager of marketing and communications with at least five years of relevant experience.

Do you know of an innovative job opportunity in Toronto? Let us know!

Vegetation and solar panels, all on the same roof

Developers interested in making their buildings more sustainable typically face a choice: solar panels or a green roof? There isn't, presumably, room for both.

Some University of Toronto researchers are challenging that assumption. This summer, with the help of many government and private sector partners, they're launching a study looking at whether the two can be combined—at the possibility of installing one roof that uses both vegetation and solar panels. The bonus: if the researchers' hypothesis is correct, they won't just be making dual use of the same space; the cumulative effect of combining the technologies will provide greater environmental benefits than using them separately.

"Solar photo voltaics operate best when they are not overheated," explains Liat Margolis, director of UofT's Green Roof Innovation Testing (GRIT) Lab. "Ideally [the panels] would be in a relatively cool climate, but sunny; conversely when they are overheated their energy production drops. The hypothesis is that ...if the vegetation actually cools the air, that could improve the performance of the solar panels."

Basically: because green roofs create a cooling effect through the evaporation they facilitate, they will keep the solar panels above cooler, and thereby—so the theory goes—keep those panels working more efficiently.

The GRIT Lab is running the experiment on the roof of 230 College Street; it includes 40 solar panels installed two and four feet above a layer of vegetation. The study is still in the early stages: Margolis says they anticipate about a year of calibration and testing, and hope to begin collecting data next spring. They'll gather results for three growing seasons, to have a data sample that accounts for variations in the weather. (This summer's cool temperatures would likely yield different results than a much hotter summer might, for instance.)

The basic benefit of solar panels—energy generation—can be appealing over the long term, but since even the best solar panels are only about 18 per cent efficient, it can take eight to 10 years to reap the financial rewards of installing them.

Green roofs, meanwhile, provide other environmental benefits, such as stormwater management, and the reduction of flooding and erosion. This too is a tough sell, though: while these are genuine environmental concerns, they are generally managed by municipal governments rather than building owners. However, Margolis says, "I think water performance will become more and more of a factor as the public becomes more aware of the issue."

As we experience more major storm events, in other words, the incentive to use green roofs to mitigate storm effects will grow. The ultimate hope is that the combination of the two technologies will create a better business case for installing them both, and make it easier for developers to pursue environmentally friendlier projects by allowing them to see the financial impact of doing so more quickly.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Liat Margolis, director, Green Roof Innovation Testing Lab
Photo: Courtesy of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.

Who's Hiring in Toronto? The Theatre Centre, TVO, and more

The most interesting of the opportunities we've seen this week:

For those with an interest in history, two positions of note at the moment. The provincial government is hiring a community programs officer to work at Ontario Heritage Trust to help with community outreach and communications. And the City of Toronto is hiring a museum coordinator who will be based out of the Todmorden Mills Heritage Site. The role includes strategic planning for and oversite of the four heritage sites at that location.

There are also a number of great openings at local cultural institutions. Over at TIFF they are looking for an assistant box office and call centre manager to manage daily operations year-round. A minimum of three years of customer service experience is required.

The newly re-opened Theatre Centre is seeking a manager of artist and community activation. The person who fills this post will take the lead in all outreach and communications strategy.

Ballet Jörgen Canada, meanwhile, is hiring an education coordinator to oversee all of Ballet Jörgen's and George Brown Dance's educational programs. And the Toronto Dance Theatre needs a new development coordinator; it's a post for an emerging professional with at least two years of relevant experience.

In the news realm, TVO has several openings right now. Among them are a digital media producer to work in the current affairs and documentary department, and a social media specialist to serve as both a community and a social media manager.

Finally, in the sustainability sector, Evergreen is looking for project manager for community development. It's a one year, four-day-a-week contract to oversee the implementation of urban agriculture project plans.

Do you know of an innovative job opportunity in Toronto? Let us know!

Biotech firm Xagenic closes $25.5M in new funding

Xagenic (pronounced ex-a-GEN-ic) is a medical startup dedicated to making diagnoses faster and easier for both patients and clinicians. Founded by Shana Kelley, a University of Toronto biochemistry professor, the premise is simple: allow medical professionals to diagnose of a range of illnesses on-site, wherever patients are, without needing to wait for a lab to process test results.

The product Xagenic currently has under development—described as a “molecular diagnostic platform”—can provide test results in 20 minutes.

It is promising enough that Xagenic recently announced a second closing of its Series B financing: $25.5 million, to be precise.

Among Xagenic’s investors are the Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund and BDC Capital, a subsidiary of the Business Development Bank of Canada. Clinical and analytic studies of the new platform are planned to start later this year, and the company aims to launch its product in 2015 or 2016.

Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan awarded Xagenic its 2014 award for New Product Innovation Leadership. In its announcement of the award, Forst & Sullivan said that "it is unique as a low-cost, simple, rapid sample-to-answer desktop instrument, requiring no manual sample processing or cold storage… For its portfolio of cartridge-based tests, Xagenic focuses on infectious diseases (HSV 1+2, Flu A+B, CT/NG, strep A, group B strep, trichomoniasis, HCV and upper respiratory infections) that will benefit the most from rapid on-site testing. The company also intends to apply the platform to counter a critical public health threat—antimicrobial resistance.”

In short: it’s the medical equivalent of cutting out the middleman, allowing clinicians to know right away if a patient has a certain illness and begin treatment right away. If the product’s development continues successfully, it has the potentially to significantly streamline the diagnostic process, reducing health care costs, saving clinicians time, and minimizing stress for patients waiting to hear about their test results.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Xagenic

Celestica opens microelectronics lab

Imagine you’re a company that’s involved in making products that require high-tech components—or that you have an idea for such a product, and would like to build a prototype. As technology continues to improve, especially in the realm of miniaturization, keeping pace by purchasing your own manufacturing equipment can be prohibitive—inefficient for larger companies, and impossible for smaller ones and startups.

Enter Celestica, a technology firm that manufacturers components for other tech-reliant companies, such as IBM, for instance. Last month, they opened a microelectronics lab at their Toronto headquarters to help with precisely these manufacturing challenges.

Clients who sign up to partner with Celestica—which will include both small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as startups and original equipment manufacturers—will gain the benefits of a 1,100 square foot lab in which elements like temperature and airborne particles are controlled in order to enable the manufacturing processes involved in miniaturization.

“There are very few place in Canada where companies can go to access this type of technology,” a spokesperson for Celestica told us, and the goal is to enable those companies to commercialize their products more effectively. It will especially help, the spokesperson went on, those who need to do “low-volume, high-reliability manufacturing”—which can range from companies testing out new products, to niche markets (like the aerospace industry) where there just isn’t a need for a large number of items to be produced.

The lab can facilitate the manufacture of fully-designed products, as well as offer engineering expertise to help with design for products that don’t have all their specs nailed down yet. Among the industries that most rely on the optics and photonics technology available at the lab are aerospace, renewable energy, and health care.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Celestica

Who's Hiring in Toronto: Evergreen, MaRS, and more

The most interesting of the opportunities we've seen this week:

Evergreen, the urban environmental centre, is currently looking for a site steward who will take charge of day-to-day maintenance, safety, and program support. Also for those with an interest in urban environmentalism, the Toronto Wildlife Centre—which helps injured and abandoned animals recover—is looking for someone to provide administrative and fundraising support.

Elsewhere in the environmental sector, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, a charity that works for the sustainability of our Great Lake, has two opportunities: they are seeking a marketing and public engagement manager to develop strategies for engaging individuals, sponsors, and non-profit partners, and they are also looking for a writer to contribute to the organization's online and written materials.

Finally, the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is hiring a digital media assistant to work on newsletters, blogs, social media, and other online communications.

Innovation hub MaRS is seeking to fill multiple posts right now. First up is a software engineer with UNIX dev-ops or systems administration experience, to coordinate multiple systems via a Switchyard service bus. Elsewhere in the organization, they are looking for innovation curriculum leads for three- to six-month contracts in a variety of learning modules.

ShopLocket, which helps retailers develop an online presence, is looking for a WordPress contractor to work on a brand new platform they've launched, called The Blueprint.

And in the cultural centre, the soon-to-open Aga Khan Museum is filling two positions. One is for a program coordiantor of education and scholarly programs, and applications should have at least two years of progressive experience in a cultural institution. And the second is for an education manager with at least five years of relevant experience.

Ryerson launches partnership with London tech accelerator

Recently Ryerson University announced that its Digital Media Zone (DMZ) had signed a "friendship agreement" with one of Europe's largest technology accelerators, Level39. Based in London, England's Canary Wharf, Level39 has a particular focus on the financial, retail, and future cities sectors. The agreement will allow members of each institution access the other's facilities, spaces, and networks.

Ryerson has been in talks with Level39 for "five or six months," says Hossein Rahnama, director of research and innovation for the DMZ, "and it was a natural decision to form a partnership with them." Level39 has been around for two years now, says Rahnama by way of introduction, and is owned by the Canary Wharf Group. They "are hoping to transform part of the city into a global technology hub," he goes on. "Our goal is to enhance our collaboration with the UK, enhance mobility."

London has done a "great job" in developing the sectors in question, and the partnership is key for expanding the opportunities the DMZ can offer its members. It's one of several partnerships Ryerson hopes to develop in Europe over the coming years.

"International expansion has been part of our agenda since the beginning," Rahnama says—crucial for helping DMZ members find new opportunities for growth by giving them access to new markets, as well as exposure to best practices.

"A lot of our startups in Toronto are looking at addressing the financial vertical," Rahnama explains, so this allows Ryerson to offer that community to allow for scaling in Europe, without a lot of startup costs.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Hossein Rahnama, director of research and innovation, Ryerson University DMZ

Who's Hiring in Toronto? Ladies Learning Code, World Wildlife Fund, and more

The most interesting opportunities we've come across lately:

Tides Canada, which provides support services to philanthropic and activist organizations, needs a full-time program associate to help out with a range of funders and grantees on issues ranging from food security to environmental conservation. Meanwhile, one of their funding recipients, the East Scarborough Storefront—which works on collaborative community development in that part of the city—is hiring a manager of local economic opportunities. They are looking for someone with at least two years of leadership experience.

For those with an interest in urban agriculture, Fresh City Farms is seeking an assistant farm manager to oversee two plots at their Downsview Park location. At least one season of organic farming experience is a must.

Also in the environmental sector, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada is looking for a manager of development and communications to lead the implementation of their fundraising strategy.

The World Wildlife Fund is hiring a marine police and research associate. Candidates should have a relevant undergraduate degree and three to five years of eperience in conservation research.

For those with tech skills, retail startup ShopLocket has three posts open right now, for a javascript developer, a full-stack developer, and a UX specialist. Also, Ladies Learning Code—which runs development courses aimed at women—is hiring a lead for their Toronto chapter. Responsibilities in this part-time position including organizing several workshops each month, as well as coordinating instructors and volunteers.

Finally, 7D Surgical—the start-up we told you about last month that is developing a GPS-like system as a medical tool—is hiring for a variety of positions, including a software developer, a clinical specialist, and a quality assurance director.

Do you know of an innovative job opportunity in Toronto? Let us know!

Counting Down to the Pan Am Games

This past weekend, Cisco Canada and the City of Toronto unveiled the Pan Am Games Countdown Clock, an innovative way to try and build momentum for the games as we head into the final round of preparations.

Located at Nathan Phillips Square, the clock—5.5 metres tall, 7.3 tonnes, and using five kilometres' worth of fibre optic cable—includes a range of internet-enabled functions that will be enhanced in the coming months.

In addition to counting down to the Games, the clock contains an interactive kiosk (it's wheelchair accessible—the screen adjusts height with the touch of a button) that will let you learn about the 51 sports included in the Pan Am Games, and about participating countries. If you're interested in volunteering you can learn more about options for that, too.

Over time new features will be added in, such as two-way video that will allow visitors to the clock to communicate with Pan Am athletes in their home towns, enabling communication between those of us hosting here and those who will be coming into Toronto for the Games.

Jeff Seifert, Cisco's chief technology officer, explains in a video about the clock that what makes it different are these added features, which are meant to create as engaging an experience as possible for users. The clock took six months to develop, and a team of 40 people was involved in its creation.

The 2015 Pan Am Games will take place from July 10–26, and the Parapan American Games will run from August 7–15.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Cisco Canada

Artscape launches pilot programs for creative industry entrepreneurs

We're used to thinking of Artscape as a (re)maker of spaces: from the Wychwood Barns to Gibraltar Point, they take old sites in Toronto and help shape them to suit new uses.

Now Artscape is taking a more active role in programming some of those spaces, launching a series of pilot programs to help creative entrepreneurs tackle the business aspects of their ventures. The Creative Business Design Workshop, Creative Entrepreneurship Program, and Business Skills for Growth Workshop Series are part of the ramp-up to the opening of Launchpad, a full-fledged centre slated to open in 2017.

Launchpad has been in the works for five years, says Pru Robey, Artscape's Creative Placemaking Lab Director. It will be a new creative and cultural entrepreneurship centre, one that gives "skills, tools, and resources" to creative workers, to help them start and sustain effective businesses.

It's needed, she says, because underlying all of the banner headlines about Toronto's vaunted arts scene, "are some real challenges that are faced by people in the creative sector." Stats about growth and employment "are actually made up of independent, solo traders working part-time, and working in other sectors to support their creative work, and people who are earning very little on average."  This means, Robey argues, that there is a great deal of unrealized economic potential: earnings for workers in the cultural sector are below average compared to those in other sectors with comparable education levels.

This is often compounded, she says, by a lack of early-stage support. "Graduating students suddenly lose access to a whole network of support"—basics such as space, equipment, resources, and mentorship—and aren't taught the specific, practical skills of how to build an effective freelance career or business.

Toronto already has a number of entrepreneur-support programs, incubators, and other similar support systems. Why the need to start a new one for the creative sector in particular?

"Our research shows, and our experience tells us," says Robey, "that oftentimes creatives have lots of passion [for their work] but they don't really want to talk about growing a business, so the traditional kinds of entrepreneurship support aren't necessarily appealing."

The pilot programs will be unveiled throughout this summer and fall. When Launchpad opens in 2017, says Robey, it will "combine a learning environment with a creative environment" and include a "range of highly specified and equipped production studios." The goal is to provide both creative and business support for everything from sound production to photography to fashion and jewelry to industrial design.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Pru Robey, Creative Placemaking Lab Director, Artsca

ScribbleLive acquires major competitor CoverItLive

We last wrote about ScribbleLive—the digital publishing company that helps media outlets, sports teams, and brands provide real-time event coverage—a year ago, when they closed a new round of funding and had their eye on expansion. Those ambitions are only getting bigger: ScribbleLive has just announced that it has acquired its best-known competitor, CoverItLive.

The Toronto-based ScribbleLive approached the California-based Demand Media, which owned CoverItLive, because "We noticed that it wasn't a core business of their owners," explains CEO Vincent Mifsud. "It just happened that they were in the process of divesting of many of their assets," he goes on, and the deal went through smoothly, with the help of ScribbleLive's existing financial backers.

It didn't hurt that CoverItLive's engineering team happened to be located in Toronto already, which aided the transition: though the deal was announced just last night, CoverItLive's engineers have already moved into the ScribbleLive offices. The Toronto office is now at about 50 staff, with another 30 working internationally.

"Organically we're growing at around 70-80 per cent," Mifsud says, and ScribbleLive will continue to push that with new acquisitions to "round out our growth."

They are aiming to enhance the platform and services they offer, and given their newly-expanded engineering team, hope to start layering in new functionality shortly. Specifically, Mifsud told us that they are going to be focusing on content strategy planning tools, and at optimization tools that help the clients who use ScribbleLive get the most from the publishing platform.

ScribbleLive and CoverItLive will, in the interim, continue as separate services; they will eventually become a single, fully-integrated platform.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Vincent Mifsud, CEO, ScribbleLive
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