Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for the invitation to speak with you today.
My name is Melissa Chee, and I am the president and CEO of ventureLAB. I have over 20 years of experience in large Canadian-founded multinationals, and have also scaled a technology company that shipped 50 million units to global customers, eventually exiting on the public exchange.
As for ventureLAB, it is a leading technology hub located in York Region, Canada's densest tech cluster, with more than 4,300 tech companies, including 400 global multinational firms.
At ventureLAB, we help companies build and scale their businesses to be globally competitive tech titans through our programming and advisory focused on four essential pillars to enterprises that are built to scale globally: capital, technology, customers and talent. We serve an area that is home to nearly 1.8 million residents, with our largest service area in York Region, which is the fastest-growing large municipality in Ontario.
Since 2011, we've helped more than 2,000 SMEs launch and scale, including more than 100 companies that have raised over $100 million through our capital investment program, a program funded with the support of NRC IRAP, which has enabled these companies to attract investment, create jobs and expand to global markets. Many of the companies we support have leveraged government programs, such as the trade commissioner service, IRAP and FedDev.
We operate a 50,000 square foot innovation hub in Markham, which is home to more than 45 tech companies and innovation partners, employing more than 300 people who come to work each day. Each year, we support 400 tech companies to scale their businesses to create jobs and attract investment and customers. We don't pick winners; the marketplace decides what is commercially viable and what is not. Our role is to ensure that innovative founders with market viable ideas have access to top-quality networks, advice and support to avoid predictable pitfalls and take the right decision at the right time as it relates to capital, technology, customer and talent acquisition.
To that end, l want to share two examples and ideas that are related to how Canadian SMEs can become globally competitive companies that are building transformative solutions.
First, the company ForaHealthyMe is creating virtual care solutions focused on improving patient access to care and remote health care delivery, and has leveraged government programs such as IRAP, FedDev and the Canadian technology accelerator in Philadelphia.
ForaHealthyMe has scaled to global markets, including the U.S., Germany, China and the Netherlands, and while ForaHealthyMe has partnered with community-based health care organizations locally in Ontario, broad adoption in Canada remains a challenge, as heavy regulations make it difficult for emerging Canadian-founded companies like this to get their products into local health care providers.
Another example is Hyperion Sensors. Hyperion has developed a groundbreaking industrial IoT sensing solution to monitor high-voltage power lines and equipment. The company's smart transformer solution uses fibre optics to provide utilities with real-time detection and monitoring of power grid equipment, which can result in decreased downtime for consumers and increased operational efficiencies for the utility.
As Hyperion was ramping up its product development, the company experienced challenges in gaining support from Canadian utilities, resulting in a partnership with U.S. energy giant Ameren and the University of Missouri, which provided a valuable first customer reference and product validation.
As a result of Hyperion's success in the U.S., the company was recently selected by Alectra Utilities, which is one of Canada's largest utilities, to provide its solution to monitor underground power cables.
This is a great example of how first adopters are critical to the success of Canadian SMEs that want to go global.
l'd like to offer two ideas that we believe can address some of these challenges.
The first is the adoption of made-in-Canada technologies and solutions by government organizations and agencies. We want the Government of Canada to be the first purchaser of innovative and globally competitive technologies and solutions created by qualified Canadian SMEs, to give these companies a strong commercialization edge and valuable first customer reference as they go global.
Quota requirements for qualified Canadian-made solutions in government organizations would give Canadian SMEs the ability to accelerate expansion to overseas markets, and increase the likelihood of raising capital, either through private equity sources or strategic partnerships. Therefore, Canadian SMEs would be capitalized to invest in local talent and infrastructure.
The second idea is to ensure that made-in-Canada solutions are considered for every procurement, such that globally focused, qualified Canadian companies are listed as suppliers and vendors of record.
Adopting made-in-Canada solutions will increase Canadian SMEs' success in global markets and create a sustainable pipeline of build-to-scale, globally competitive and focused enterprises right here in Canada.
l'd be happy to answer any of your questions and share any background about our work.
Thank you very much for your time.