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Cognitive Systems ships first units of motion-detecting Aura device

Less than a year and a half after announcing itself to the world, Cognitive Systems Corp. – a Waterloo startup stacked with wireless veterans – has started shipping its first product: a home protection system that reads the wireless signals in your house to detect unexpected movement.
The system, called Aura, made a splash at its unveiling at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this year, where Cognitive began taking pre-orders at US$399. It consists of two pieces of hardware – a hub and a sensor – which plug into the wall and can be set up within 10 minutes. The system then monitors for movement by detecting disturbances in the unseen wireless signals within the home, and sends a notification to your smartphone when it detects anything unusual.
As such, Aura can extend home monitoring beyond where security cameras typically reach, since homeowners are often reluctant to place cameras in bathrooms or bedrooms, said Hugh Hind, CEO and co-founder of Cognitive. It’s also less invasive than cameras, making it an option for rental-property managers or Airbnb hosts who want to monitor for unusual movement in their spaces without invading the privacy of tenants or guests, or for families of

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Laurier gets $2.5 million federal boost for scale-up data program

The numbers always tell a story. The problem is getting hold of the data.
Which is why the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario Thursday announced $2.5 million in funding for Wilfrid Laurier University’s Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises to support a “national scaleup data platform” designed to capture and track growth metrics for Canadian startups.
Laurier, the host for Thursday’s announcement, will partner with Toronto-based financial market data startup Hockeystick to make the data available — for free, for up to five years — to every innovation organization in Canada, including incubators, accelerators, scale-ups and startups.
“For the first time, it will be possible to obtain a comprehensive picture of the evolution of Canadian companies from early to late stages, giving Canada … invaluable insights into why companies fail or succeed,” said Lazaridis Institute Executive Director Kim Morouney.
The new platform is intended to make it easier for accelerators to identify startups that meet their program parameters and to provide provincial and federal governments with detailed company metrics. The platform will additionally serve as a tool for startups and scale-ups to find funding programs and streamline their applications for funding. The Lazaridis Institute will use the platform to identify

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M-Theory: Data privacy? I’m afraid that horse left the barn long ago

Hey, remember those wide-eyed, innocent days of 2016 when the Internet of Things was a security nightmare due to its easy hackability?
Any mildly bored tween could hijack your baby monitor and talk to your kid, monitor your family’s comings and goings via your smart thermostat, or take over your car and steer you into a hydro pole.
But this is 2017 and we’re so over that amateur level of privacy invasion and data theft. Hell, why do it for fun when there’s mad cash to be made?
For the real go-getters, we are at the vibrating edge of innovation. On the go, in your home and in your … well, there.
Apparently Canadian tech company We-Vibe’s 4 Plus Bluetooth-connected vibrator comes with an app to enable … uhh… paired programming. And, naturally, said app is basically digital cheesecloth where security and privacy is concerned.
Not only did it send device usage data back to We-Vibe’s parent company, its remote activation function could be hijacked, basically by anyone within Bluetooth range and with a mind to do so.
Which might seem like a bit of a “Surprise!” worthy chuckle situation, except that, to quote one of the Def Con conference hackers who first revealed these

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Conestoga College: Making its mark in Waterloo Region

Conestoga College has more than 300,000 square feet of teaching space spread across two main campuses straddling Kitchener and Cambridge. It has outposts in five other southern Ontario communities, a total enrollment north of 45,000, and its grads have a reliable habit of taking up positions of relevance throughout the Region of Waterloo’s tech ecosystem.
Yet when stacked against the University of Waterloo and, to a lesser extent, Wilfrid Laurier University, it’s often overlooked as a tech talent producer, existing in a state of perpetual eclipse due to the bright lights up the road.
“The reality is University of Waterloo is one of the best universities in the world [for tech], right?” says Pejman Salehi, Chair of Engineering and Information Technology at Conestoga. “I’m a software engineer by trade, so I know that.”
It’s not that the two universities don’t deserve their sterling reputations. It’s not that Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley-based startup powerhouse, didn’t have good reason to sing UW’s praises when asked to name a go-to school for startup talent.
It’s just that, in the global race for good people who can help a startup scale, Conestoga, now celebrating its 50th year, would like to say something:
Yoo-hoo. Over here.
“We

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Trudeau’s pledge to Vidyard: ‘Standing up for softwood or software’

With a trademark display of charm and charisma, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a visit to soaring Waterloo Region tech company Vidyard Tuesday, underscoring his government’s commitment to technology as Canada’s new engine for economic growth.
Taking part in a town hall style question-and-answer session with Vidyard CEO Michael Litt, Trudeau hit on themes like talent, education and protectionism, in the process reinforcing initiatives set out by his government in last month’s tech-friendly federal budget.
“Standing up for Canada’s interests is what my job is, whether it’s softwood or software,” Trudeau said to applause and laughter from a rapt audience of Vidyard employees.
Trudeau came wearing socks bearing the logo of his “beloved Montreal Canadiens” and he came prepared. Asked by Litt about the issue of talent retention, and keeping skilled Canadians from leaving home for places like Silicon Valley, the prime minister looked at Litt and replied with a wry grin:
“You left.”
Which is true enough; Litt left for the Valley in 2008, returning to eventually start Vidyard in 2011. Vidyard, which specializes in analytics software that tracks how online video is viewed, now has 175 employees and ambitious plans to add 100 more within the year.
“The capacity to build strength

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IMS named one of Canada’s top small and medium employers

Waterloo, ON, April 25, 2017 – Intelligent Mechatronic Systems (IMS), a leading global connected
car and telematics solution provider, is pleased to announce that it has been named one of
Canada’s Top Small and Medium Employers for 2017. Canada’s Top Small and Medium Employers
program recognizes small and medium enterprises that offer the nation’s best workplaces and
forward-thinking human resources policies.
Based on IMS’ award-winning DriveSync® connected car platform, IMS offers innovative connected
car services and solutions that ensure drivers are safer, smarter and greener. Whether incenting
safer driving behavior with insurance discounts; ensuring safer, better maintained roads with
advanced road usage charging technology; or ensuring piece of mind with intelligent roadside
assistance, smart vehicle servicing and driver coaching services, IMS’ solution portfolio is
purposefully engineered to improve society at large.
“Our vision and values play a very important role in our organization,” said Dr. Otman Basir, CEO
and Founder at IMS. “Our employees understand that what they are doing has its greatest impact
on people’s lives.”
IMS recently reached the 140 employee mark, growing operations in Canada, United States and
Europe with open, collaborative work environments that foster innovation and creativity. IMS
invests heavily in innovation, which is supported by on-going Vision lunches with the CEO to discuss
technology direction; monthly Innovation Talks featuring inspiring guest

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IMS named one of Canada’s top small and medium employers

Waterloo, ON, April 25, 2017 – Intelligent Mechatronic Systems (IMS), a leading global connected
car and telematics solution provider, is pleased to announce that it has been named one of
Canada’s Top Small and Medium Employers for 2017. Canada’s Top Small and Medium Employers
program recognizes small and medium enterprises that offer the nation’s best workplaces and
forward-thinking human resources policies.
Based on IMS’ award-winning DriveSync® connected car platform, IMS offers innovative connected
car services and solutions that ensure drivers are safer, smarter and greener. Whether incenting
safer driving behavior with insurance discounts; ensuring safer, better maintained roads with
advanced road usage charging technology; or ensuring piece of mind with intelligent roadside
assistance, smart vehicle servicing and driver coaching services, IMS’ solution portfolio is
purposefully engineered to improve society at large.
“Our vision and values play a very important role in our organization,” said Dr. Otman Basir, CEO
and Founder at IMS. “Our employees understand that what they are doing has its greatest impact
on people’s lives.”
IMS recently reached the 140 employee mark, growing operations in Canada, United States and
Europe with open, collaborative work environments that foster innovation and creativity. IMS
invests heavily in innovation, which is supported by on-going Vision lunches with the CEO to discuss
technology direction; monthly Innovation Talks featuring inspiring guest

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The Nimble Hippo: How to get back to Day 1

Recently Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, released a new letter to shareholders which was included in his annual report. The letter can be found here. There are a lot of powerful messages in the letter, but what is most powerful is that Amazon, founded in 1994 and now with 341,000 employees, still behaves like an entrepreneurial organization. It is still driven by a leader who remembers what it is like to start a business, to sweat the details, and to focus his effort.
This is a leader who has built Amazon into one of the most important companies in the world. I use the word “important” because Amazon is teaching us so many things. It is teaching small companies how to think big, how to have a bold vision and how to obsessively focus on the customer. He’s also teaching big companies how to be nimble, but I’m not sure many are listening. Here’s why.
Big companies in so many industries fear Amazon. Retailers the world over are closing their doors faster than ever before and much of this can be attributed to Amazon’s growing influence in retail and online shopping. And of course retailers are aware of what Amazon is

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Canada open to ideas, people, talent, immigration minister says

Amid a choppy sea of international populism and protectionism, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says Canada will continue steaming on its established course when it comes to attracting skilled tech talent.
“We are open to ideas. We are open to people. We are open to talent,” said Hussen Monday, during a brief visit to Communitech, where he attended a roundtable on talent issues and met with representatives from companies like D2L and Clearpath Robotics. “I’m not going to comment on the immigration policies of other countries.”
With a wave of anti-immigrant, anti-free trade sentiment sweeping through Europe, and uncertainty in the U.S. with regard to its H-1B visa program, Hussen said the federal government’s response is simply business as usual – carrying on with policies already implemented or in progress that are designed to make it easier for Canadian companies to get the skilled people they need to grow.
“The plan that we had to launch express entry [in Canada] preceded the election in the United States,” said Hussen, asked about U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision last week to sign an executive order directing Congress to review the process of granting H-1B visas, which companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook use to bring in

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Author Geoffrey Moore on Canada’s ‘cloak of invisibility’

Waterloo Region has a secret, underutilized  weapon in the global battle to start and scale tech companies, says noted author, marketing expert and venture capitalist Geoffrey Moore.
It’s the same weapon every Canadian tech centre has at its disposal, by virtue of the fact Canadian companies are not located in the United States.
Canadians, Moore says, “have a cloak of invisibility.
“You’re kind of like Harry Potter. So why the hell aren’t you using [the cloak] more aggressively?”
Chatting with Communitech News prior to delivering a Wednesday evening lecture entitled Inside the Tornado: What it Takes to Catch and Ride Your Next Wave, at the Tannery Event Centre, Moore described in exquisite detail the problem and opportunity facing Canadian tech companies. The rap on Canadian startups, he says, is they’re good at hitting the $50-million mark, but then they stall or exit.
“The thing that is so interesting is: You guys can build a company up to $50 million and have all of your customers in the United States, and you will be invisible to your competition. They will not be able to see you.
“Whereas, if you had started in Silicon Valley, they would have known about you before you had your first customer.”
That invisibility,

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