Companies that successfully completed the CDL program at 5 of Canada’s top universities were all in one place to:
Attendees saw new and exciting applications of diverse technologies including artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biological engineering, financial technology, energy technology, water technology and green engineering. The technologies on display had wide-ranging implications for industries including energy, healthcare, construction, insurance, finance, computing, and agriculture.
June 12th & 13th 2019, at Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto (Toronto, ON)
Catch up on the highlights through our online media library below.
On June 6, CDL-Global launched its talk series CDL Insights by hosting Life Beyond Earth, a fireside chat looking at the future of space exploration and human colonization of other planets. Transcending the natural limitations of living outside our blue planet, this conversation explored the current trajectory of technological improvements in interplanetary transportation, space robotics, and mining, to develop a deep understanding of the state of science and technology in building human colonies beyond earth.
We were skillfully guided by a commander of the International Space Station, a space flight participant, leader of an in-progress spacecraft mission to a near-earth asteroid, and the person under whose leadership NASA successfully landed two rovers on the red planet.
On June 7, Vinod Khosla joined the Super Session to answer questions on a variety of topics including entrepreneurial attitude, creating development focus, fundraising strategies, and his own experiences as a founder and as an investor.
Khosla was one of the co-founders of Sun Microsystems, where he served as its first CEO and Chairman in the early 1980s. In 1986, he became a general partner of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. In 2004 Khosla formed his own firm, Khosla Ventures, which focuses on venture investments in various technology sectors, most notably clean technology.
A group of CDL Alumni ventures were selected to present at the Super Session.
The Super Session was curated to stimulate with world-leading expert speakers, and multiple parallel streams and break-outs to help connect the CDL’s Fellows, Associates, and venture founders with policy makers, venture capitalists, financiers, corporate partners, world-class scientists & technologists, and business talent. The first 4 CDL sessions at each site helped set trajectory and provide resources for the highest potential ventures. At the Super Session, we came together to provide the direction, connections and resources to turbo-charge these ventures to growth and impact.
These eight stories illustrate the key aspects of the CDL program.
DarwinAI (CDL-Toronto) is commercializing IP that automatically generates highly optimized deep neural networks that are orders of magnitude smaller than comparable solutions, while also enabling “explainable AI,” the ability to understand why a network makes the decisions it does. The company’s technology can generate optimized networks that are hundreds of times smaller than the originals while maintaining functional accuracy and reducing inference time.
DarwinAI was identified by CDL-Toronto back in 2016. Cofounder and CTO of DarwinAI, Dr. Alexander Wong, is an assistant professor in the Systems Design Engineering department at the University of Waterloo, Co-Director of the Vision and Image Processing Research Group at the same institution, and the Canada Research Chair in Medical Imaging Systems. Dr. Wong’s group spun out of one of the ventures in CDL-Toronto’s 2016-2017 cohort, Elucid Labs. CDL-Toronto was very impressed by the caliber of work coming out of Dr. Wong’s group and supported the team over the summer as they got ready for the cohort to start in October 2017.
At the first CDL session, the team attracted overwhelming interest from numerous CDL mentors as a result of their strong IP and broad market application. By the third CDL session, advisors Sheldon Fernandez and Arif Virani (both University of Waterloo graduates) were named as DarwinAI’s CEO and COO, respectively. In March 2018, the team closed their US$3M seed round, co-led by Obvious Ventures and iNovia Capital, with CDL mentors Stephan Uhrenbacher and Dennis Bennie and others participating as angel investors.
ProteinQure (CDL-Toronto) uses hybrid quantum-classical algorithms to design protein-based drugs. The company was born during the technical training portion of the Quantum Machine Learning program, when the team’s physicist and computer scientist – who had relocated from Germany and Slovakia, respectively – found inspiration in an article on protein-folding from a NASA research scientist. After receiving Professor Peter Wittek’s blessing on their technology and a wary go-ahead from their Venture Manager, they quickly added a computational biologist, a recently defended U of T PhD, to the founding team, locking him down in less than a week. Their MBA student also joined in February after turning down a lucrative job at the Boston Consulting Group. Since then, the team has consistently met the objectives set at CDL sessions, spoken about their work at a medtech conference in San Francisco, and initiated an academic collaboration with a leading protein research lab at SUNY-Stony Brook. Proteinqure has designed larger proteins than all of their competitors and is on track to raise a significant seed round this summer.
InnerSpace (CDL-Toronto) has built an indoor location intelligence platform using IoT sensors to provide “GPS for the indoors.” InnerSpace is being used by large enterprises to transform operations using real-time data on how people and assets behave inside a building. Jason Gamblen and James Wu, founders of InnerSpace, were early employees at eReading giant Kobo, CDL G7 Fellow Mike Serbini’s exited company. During the CDL sessions, CDL mentors were impressed by the company’s partnership with the Compass Group, the world’s largest food services and support services provider. This partnership leverages the InnerSpace platform to disrupt traditional cleaning services by deploying staff to areas as needed based on how buildings are actually utilized. Additionally, Compass is harnessing the power of InnerSpace to improve Compass cafe experiences for its clients, including Microsoft, Qantas Airlines, and Louisiana State University. The Compass Group partnership – valued at $25M USD over three years – is one of many that InnerSpace has secured to establish a channel that will quickly bring its technology to a large network of clients. The Fellows and mentors at CDL have been so impressed by the opportunity ahead for InnerSpace and the company’s execution to date that Fellows Naresh Bangia, Sally Daub, and Stephan Uhrenbacher have all invested, while mentor Dror Nir has joined the company as an advisor.
CSD Labs (CDL-West) has developed an AI-driven heart murmur detection technology and app with modules to train physicians using a heart sound and murmur database. The founders arrived at the first CDL-West session from Austria, via Ottawa, and announced that they needed to close a seed round in a few weeks. Initially, session attendees expressed little interest, despite the fact that contributing $750k would secure a time-expiring Austrian government grant that would match this investment. However, CDL Fellow Dr. T. Chen Fong had met with one of the founders prior to the session and saw potential in the venture. He shared his views on the company with the Fellows in attendance and committed to participating in financing the round. Within 15 minutes of the session ending, several session attendees, including two Founding Partners, agreed to fully fund the round.
EZ-Robot (CDL-West) is a robotics and IoT platform used by STEM educators, laboratories, and hobbyists in more than 80 countries to teach people to build robots. The company arrived at the first CDL-West session with a very short runway, operating in a busy space, and focused on hobbyists as their primary customers. By the time the company graduated, several CDL Fellows and Associates invested $750k, joined the advisory board, and helped set a trajectory for the company to scale through advising on key hires and helping to reframe their go-to-market strategy.
Stratuscent’s (CDL-Montreal) AI-driven chemical sensor can identify smells and quantify the mix of airborne chemicals in a complex environment. This sensor mimics the function of a human nose and can be used in various applications including consumer electronics and industrial, medical, and energy technologies. When Stratuscent first joined the CDL, their efforts were narrowly focused on applications related to indoor air quality. CDL Fellows helped them realize a much larger vision of becoming the “Google for smell.” Fellow Patrick Pichette, in particular, helped founders see they could aspire to more than a quick acquisition and had the potential to change the world. To put it in Patrick’s words, “If Google indexed all the information in the world, then Stratuscent is essentially digitizing and indexing all the smells in the world.”
Harbr (CDL-Atlantic) provides mobile tools for construction and land development companies to track the real-time progress of projects and compare it against their construction schedule. The Harbr application also provides key insights into contractor performance, productivity, and schedule management as well as highlights risks to project completion. Attending CDL-Atlantic sessions provided Harbr with an important lift to its fundraising, hiring, and business development efforts. Harbr raised $1.75M primarily from CDL Fellows and Associates by the end of their third CDL session.
Swirltex (CDL-Rockies) uses a patented buoyancy-based water filtration approach to filter wastewater lagoons. The company’s technology has numerous other potential applications in the medical, food processing, and oil and gas industries. Becoming part of the CDL-Rockies cohort was a major turning point for Swirltex. An MBA student joined the team as COO by their second session. By their fourth session, the company closed over $1M in financing and secured multiple projects with recurring revenue.
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