McMaster and Hamilton startup incubator celebrates third anniversary

November 14, 2017

Real-time health information to healthcare providers, eye drops for ocular diseases, diabetes-monitoring games for kids, smart technology for global aquaponics, and a device that can measure the color of any surface are just a handful of the innovations that received accelerated business development from The Forge.

The Forge is supported by McMaster and Hamilton’s Innovation Factory with a mandate to help support new entrepreneurial startups. Startups are housed primarily in McMaster’s Innovation Park and at a downtown storefront location on James Street North. On November 13 the Hamilton-based startup incubator celebrated its third anniversary with an event at Innovation Park.

“When we began, our office space was empty,” said Monika Yazdanian, director of The Forge, in her opening remarks. “In three years, the co-working space has grown to a community of 80 companies, $13M in investment/funding, 300 employees and alumni, and 4,000 students reached.”

The startups come primarily from the life sciences and software sectors, along with a few hardware companies and one focused on social entrepreneurship.

“We’re living in a transitional world and we’re all a part of it,” says Ted McMeekin, MPP (Ancaster-Dundas-Flamorough-Westdale), who was invited as guest speaker to kick off the event as well as Global Entrepreneurship Week.

“Entrepreneurship is about understanding where we are and where we want to go,” he says.

McMeekin spoke about his own entrepreneurial experience owning and operating the original and award winning Chapters bookstore in Waterdown, Ontario.

A number of local startups connected to the Forge have been making headlines and having an impact not only in Hamilton, but across the globe. Notably, the sKan team – a group of McMaster engineering grads – who recently won the prestigious Dyson Award for their hand-held skin cancer-detecting device.  

Other Forge startups that have achieved success include:

  • Reliq Health Technologies, a technology company focused on developing innovative mobile health and telemedicine solutions, which recently earned a $5,000,000 investment.
  • Nix Sensor Ltd., which has been named a two-time winner of the internationally recognized 2018 German Design Awards – both the Nix Pro Color Sensor and the Nix Mini Color Sensor were awarded for their excellence in Product Design. CEO Matthew Sheridan is a McMaster Engineering alumnus.
  • In September 2017, The Forge’s Aiva Labs, a marketing campaign builder that maximizes website conversion by engaging users with a smart overlay, took top prize at the annual Lion’s Lair competition. Lumago, a company specializing in smart, customizable technology for the global aquaponics industry, took third place.

Lion’s Lair is an annual competition presented by Innovation Factory and the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, which brings together the entrepreneurship and innovation community in Hamilton.

As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, The Forge is holding talks, a Startup Crawl, a pitch competition and more. On Wednesday, November 15, 11 McMaster students will be competing at the annual Problem Pitch Competition. The top three teams will receive research and development funding.