Friday, December 11, 2009

  • Accelerator Centre launches 2 more firms
  • Merry ways to spend exam season
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Dozens at work, many in green T-shirts]

World Town Planning Day was marked last month in more than 30 countries, and at UW by a charrette organized by UW's school of planning for its students, faculty and staff as well as a group of local high school students and teachers. Theme of the day's brainstorming: improving the notorious Hespeler Road corridor in Cambridge, south of Kitchener, with its strip plazas, fast-food restaurants and auto dealerships. "The goal," says Karen Hammond of the planning school, "was to envision the corridor as a greener, more vital and attractive street, integrated into a denser urban fabric."

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Accelerator Centre launches 2 more firms

Count two more UW spinoff firms in the Waterloo Region high-tech sector, as the north campus Accelerator Centre, which calls itself “an award-winning and world-renowned centre for the cultivation of technology entrepreneurship”, yesterday celebrated the successful “graduation” of two of its client companies.

They are SparkMatrix, a provider of software solutions for the property management marketplace, and Frozen North Productions, an independent game development studio.

Said a news release: “Since its opening in April 2006, the Accelerator Centre has successfully launched into the marketplace five start-up companies. SparkMatrix and Frozen North join other successful and thriving AC graduates Energent, Primal Fusion and Miovision in the commercial marketplace.”

SparkMatrix, it said, was founded by president David Li and CTO James P.M. She in 2003 and became a client of the Accelerator Centre in September2006. “The company has created a platform of online tools that help property owners, property managers and tenants cut paperwork and costs by streamlining and automating typical manual processes and eliminating the repetitive tasks that come with day to day management of property investments, while boosting tenant satisfaction levels. The company's software has been successfully deployed to an impressive list of customers including Armadale Management Inc., CBS Property Management, Toronto Airways, Waterloo Off Campus Housing Inc., and Wilfrid Laurier University.”

As for Frozen North Productions, it was founded by CEO Julian Spillane and CTO Tom Mathers, and incorporated in 2006 through the assistance of Accelerator Centre partner Infusion Angels. “The company's game, Flip's Twisted World, created in partnership with family game creator and distributor Majesco Entertainment, will be made available for the Nintendo Wii platform in January 2010.” (This announcement was featured on the CTV Southwestern Ontario evening news last night.)

Says David Li, president of SparkMatrix: "The Accelerator Centre is the perfect home for any start up. It brings together knowledge, expertise, facilities and administrative support, freeing you of the day to day burdens that come with running a business. The support and expertise we receive as a start-up allows small companies to focus on creating great products and establishing their market foothold.”

And Julian Spillane, CEO of Frozen North: "We have thrived on the energy and expertise that the Accelerator Centre has brought to our business. It is a wonderful home for fledgling businesses and an amazing launch pad for the broader commercial marketplace.”

The Accelerator Centre's number of graduates “is now ramping,” says Tom Corr, its CEO and a UW associate vice-president, “and Accelerator Centre clients are now viewed by the venture capital and angel investment community as very attractive targets. The guidance, expertise, and support we can offer companies like SparkMatrix and Frozen North allows them to launch more quickly and with greater long-term success. We're extremely proud to have these two great companies join our graduate ranks."

Background, as summarized in the news release: “Made possible through funding from Federal and Provincial Governments, Ontario Centres of Excellence, the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, the City of Waterloo and the University of Waterloo, along with industry and academic partners, the AC was established to accelerate the creation, growth, and maturation of sustainable new technology companies; to promote commercialization of research and technology rising out of academic institutions such as University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Guelph, and Conestoga College; and to generate economic benefit and enhance the strategic importance of Waterloo Region within Ontario and Canada's broader economy.

“Aptly named, the Accelerator Centre is firmly focused on accelerating the growth and success of its client companies — fledgling start ups from a variety of technology sectors. The Centre's team of advisors and mentors provide a unique range of support services and education programs, enabling AC clients to move to market faster, create jobs and stimulate economic activity. As home to 25-plus technology start-up companies, with resident program staff of Ontario Centres of Excellence, National Research Council IRAP and Communitech, the Accelerator Centre has become the nexus for Waterloo's innovation community.”

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Merry ways to spend exam season

It's exam season for the fall term, as students know very well — and so do the faculty members who have to mark those exams, calculate final grades and submit them electronically to the registrar. (Unofficial grades begin appearing in Quest on December 23, the day after the exam period ends; grades become official on January 25.) But other kinds of work take place in these days before the Christmas holiday break, both research-related and purely administrative. Illustrating the latter is a tweet that I noticed yesterday from a faculty member: "At work at an ungodly hour. Another meeting I can't livetweet: Promotion and Tenure. All day." Tweets, sometimes including livetweets, from the Daily Bulletin can be found under the username @uwdailybulletin.

[Bridge with snow]Work is expected to start on Monday, and extend through March, to replace railings and beams, and repair pathways, on the three pedestrian bridges that cross Laurel Creek (right). The bridges connect the south campus with the four colleges that lie along Westmount Road, not to mention the Health Services building at the creek's edge. There are three such bridges: one by HS, one in the middle opposite St. Jerome's University, and one near Environment II. (Crossings further upstream, in the vicinity of Ron Eydt Village, aren't affected.) The work is to be done in phases, so that we never have to resort to rowboats or the long jump to get across the water; phase one will start with the HS and EV2 bridges closed while the centre bridge is kept open, the plant operations department says.

Politicians, administrators, researchers and media will gather today for another “celebration” event as UW marks the arrival of government research funding. This time it’s a multi-million dollar subvention from the Ontario Research Fund to support a total of 21 projects at UW and Wilfrid Laurier University. A total of 301 researchers are said to be involved. The event will be held at 10:00 a.m. at the Waterloo Advanced Technology Lab — WATlab — on the basement floor of Chemistry II building. WATlab director Tong Leung, of the department of chemistry, is one of the researchers whose work is being supported, and media were advised yesterday that they could get pictures of a “researcher pouring liquid nitrogen into scanning probe microscope in nanofabrication facility”. WLU researchers and dignitaries will also be at today’s celebration; the key government representative is announced as Leeanna Pendergast, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener-Conestoga and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education.

[Eyeballs in a box]An exhibition titled “Cosmos” is under way at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in central Waterloo, with significant help from UW’s school of optometry. The show started in October, in association with the “Quantum to Cosmos” festival at the Perimeter Institute, and will close on January 10. It displays “antique devices and contraptions once used to measure, document and understand the world and cosmos”. A note in the optometry school’s alumni newsletter reports that the Museum of Visual Science there was “proud to help enhance this project through the loan of a series of our more unusual looking early 20th century equipment (such as phorometers, amblyoscopes, and keratomers), as well as an assortment of telescopes, model eyes (pictured), and other artifacts in keeping with the spirit of the initiative.”

[Calendar]A seasonal memo tells us that UW Graphics "wishes you a happy holiday and invites you to 'pop in your pics' and receive a 2010 calendar that uses your own photos every month. This calendar can be downloaded for free, or you can choose to have it printed and bound at the Campus Copy Math location for $7.99 each (plus tax). Gather up 13 photos in JPG format, then head to the web site to get started creating your own calendar."

A memo went out to departments the other day explaining the opportunity that's presented by the International Undergraduate Work-Study Program for the fall term. "You could employ an international student on a part-time basis for one-quarter the normal cost," writes Linda Jajko of the student awards and financial aid office. "International students are not eligible for provincial government financial aid (OSAP)," she explains, and "obtaining other financing or part-time employment that fits the student's schedule is very difficult." Hence the program, financed 75 per cent from "a central university fund", to subsidize up to 25 part-time jobs (up to 10 hours a week) in UW departments. "Jobs that tend to receive the most interest are those that create meaningful work experience for the students," Jajko notes, inviting faculty or staff members to submit job proposals by January 15 for the coming term. More information: ext. 35726.


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Link of the day


When and where

Kinesiology Lab Days for visiting high school students, December 7-11 and 14-16, Matthews Hall, information carchiba@

Centre for Teaching Excellence instructional skills workshop December 11, 14 and 16, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Sunshine Montessori School Christmas concert 7 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Winterfest family skating party sponsored by staff association, Sunday 1:00 p.m., Columbia Icefield, registration online.

Application deadline for social work (post-BA program) for fall 2010 is December 15. Details.

Alternatives Journal, published in UW faculty of environment, panel discussion: “Protecting Our Joules: Why Conserving Energy is Not (Yet) a National Sport” Tuesday 5 p.m., Sustainability Network, 215 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, reception follows. Details.

Celebrate Christmas Through Story and Song, sponsored by Campus Ministry, St. Jerome’s University, Tuesday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, tickets $5 (students $2, family $10), proceeds to Out of the Cold.

‘Managing Grief Through the Holidays’ workshop presented by Employee Assistance Program, Wednesday 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Christmas buffet luncheon served by UW Catering, December 16-18, 12:00 to 2:00, Festival Room, South Campus Hall, $17.95, reservations ext. 84700.

Christmas dinner buffet at University Club, December 16, 5:00 to 8:00, $36.95 per person, reservations ext. 33801.

UWRC Book Club discusses Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith, Wednesday 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 407.

Fee payment deadline for winter term, December 17 (promissory note), December 29 (bank transfer). Details.

Weight Watchers at Work information session and sign-up for winter series, Thursday 12:00, Humanities room 373; information ext. 32218.

Society of Waterloo Architecture Graduates holiday soiree (“fancy clothes, live music and hors d’oeuvres”) Thursday 8:00 p.m., Lily Ruth Restaurant, Cambridge, tickets $10 from swagcouncil@

University Club Holiday Cheer Reception December 18, 4:00 to 6:00, hors d’oeuvres, cheese, fruit, pastries, $13.75 per person, reservations ext. 33801.

Carousel Dance performance of “The Nutcracker” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas” December 19, 2:00, Humanities Theatre.

New faculty holiday reception (family and friends invited) December 21, from 3:30 p.m., Laurel Room, South Campus Hall; walk to Waterloo Park for Wonders of Winter display, 5:45. Details.

UW senate monthly meeting December 21 — cancelled.

Payday for faculty and monthly-paid staff Wednesday, December 23, and Friday, January 22; for biweekly-paid staff, December 18 and 31.

Christmas and New Year’s holidays: UW closed Thursday, December 24, through Friday, January 1, reopening Monday, January 4. Winter term classes begin Monday, January 4.

St. Jerome’s University mini-course: Peter C. Erb, Wilfrid Laurier University, “Facing a Secular Age: Notes for the Modern Sceptic” January 8, 15 and 22, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall. Details.

Canadian Institutes for Health Research grant-writing workshop January 12, 2:30, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Alumni in Washington, DC: Engineering alumni reception at Transportation Research Board annual meeting, January 12, 5:30 p.m., Marriott Wardmann Park Hotel. Details.

Federation of Students executive elections for 2010-11: nomination deadline January 14, 4;00 p.m.

Open class enrolment ends January 15; drop, no penalty period ends January 22 (last day to withdraw with 100 per cent fee refund). Last day to register and pay fees, January 29.

Science alumni ski day January 15, Osler Bluff Ski Club, Collingwood. Details.

EpCon, “a fun way for students with a passion for technology to interact with their peers, industry and academia” January 15-16, Waterloo Inn. Details.

Grade 10 Family Night information session for parents and students about the university admission process, sponsored by Marketing and Undergraduate Recruitment office, January 19, 6:30, Theatre of the Arts. Details.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin