“Without this space, our company wouldn’t exist”

Filomena Tassi, MP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, learns how McMaster start-up Longan Vision uses the rapid prototyping facility at The Forge/Innovation Factory's new co-located headquarters. Photo by Georgia Kirkos.

Longan Vision – a McMaster start-up that builds augmented reality visors for firefighters – does a lot of prototyping. They’ll go through multiple iterations of a single component, designing and producing and testing and re-designing, over and over, until they get something that works exactly the way they want it to.

So it’s a good thing they have access to a handy rapid protoyping makerspace, complete with a range of 3-D printers, a laser scanner and other fabricating equipment.

“We can go from a concept drawing to something we can look at, smell and feel in our hands in a day,” explains the start-up’s CTO, Alex Shortt. “Without this space, our company wouldn’t exist.”

All that prototyping is possible thanks to a new collaborative location for Hamilton’s entrepreneurs and innovators – a space that brings together The Forge, a business incubator that serves both McMaster and the Hamilton region, with Innovation Factory, Hamilton’s business accelerator.

At The Forge and Innovation Factory’s official opening on November 6. From left: David Farrar, acting vice-president, McMaster University; Ty Shattuck, CEO, McMaster Innovation Park; Gay Yuyitung, acting director of The Forge and executive director of the McMaster Industry Liaison Office; Filomena Tassi, MP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas; Raed Kadri, director, Automotive Technology and Mobility Innovation, Ontario Centres of Excellence; David Carter, executive director, Innovation Factory. Photo by Georgia Kirkos

Funded with a $1.2 million investment from FedDev Ontario to McMaster University, the prototyping facility and the newly renovated 10,00 square-foot space at the McMaster Innovation Park will offer both student entrepreneurs and other local tech-based start-ups business support, training, mentorship, networking opportunities and office space.

David Farrar, McMaster’s acting president, applauded the federal government for its investment in The Forge, noting that the space represents much more than just an expanded footprint.

“This is an investment in talent, innovation, and Canada’s entrepreneurial capacity,” he says. “This space will be used to test ideas, develop the technologies and create the jobs that will address future local and global challenges.”

Along with 25 start-ups, the new space is also home to Innovation Factory’s Centre for Integrated Transportation and Mobility, which is part of Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network. The new space includes the launch of CITM’s City Lab, which includes a data centre and testing environments that will allow companies to develop and test autonomous vehicle technologies.

According to Gay Yuyitung, the acting director for The Forge and executive director of the McMaster Industry Liaison Office, the partnership between The Forge and Innovation Factory will benefit both organizations.

“We look forward to strengthening our partnership with Innovation Factory to support entrepreneurs in moving their ideas closer to products on the market,” she says. “The ability to network our early-stage entrepreneurs with scaling companies and experienced advisors is already leading to greater interest from the investment community in Hamilton.”

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