Canadian Startup News : Week 23/11/2020

Nov 24, 2020 | Startup News | 0 comments

Welcome to our weekly Canadian startup news segment where we bring you the most important events in the world of canadian startups. We cover all major cities in Canada, mainly Toronto, Montreal & Vancouver and other emerging startup scenes.

This week, the canadian government is still doing its best to help struggling businesses survive the economic shutdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic by extending the different subsidies for businesses and workers. Responding to concerned citizens and businesses, the federal government just passed the Consumer Privacy Protection Act, a bill meant to protect the sensitive data and privacy of canadian online consumers and to force businesses to comply.


Canada’s Senate passed 2 programs into law today: The CEWS (Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy) extension and more rent relief through the CERS (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy) program.

Prime Minister Trudeau pushed for the passing of this bill, called Bill C-9 as the concern around COVID-19’s second wave are being felt, especially for Canadian businesses.

The bill was referred to a Senate finance committee for review before the legislation was introduced. On Wednesday, the committee sent a report that assessed and provided recommendations on the new legislation.

Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy Extended Until June 2021

Talks of extending the CEWS have been proposed since the beggening of October. The new legislation would also keep the current subsidy rate’s maximum at 65 percent of eligible wages until December 2020.

The new rent subsidy made simpler:  funds are sent directly to the recipients without requiring the landlords’ involvement. 

The program has seen several criteria expansions and extensions since April, including a change that made businesses with any revenue decline eligible to receive CEWS. This was preceded by calls from business groups and other federal parties for Trudeau’s government to adjust the CEWS to make it more accessible and easier for businesses to use.

The federal government estimates that by the end of December, the CEWS will have provided an estimated $65.5 billion. As of November 8, $48.01 billion has been deployed from the program.

“Given the uncertainty businesses are facing during the pandemic, witnesses indicated that program details relating to the periods after December 19 should be provided as soon as possible,”

the report said.

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Nasdaq, Inc., has acquired Canadian startup Verafin for $2.75 billion USD in cash. This strategic move by Nasdaq was meant to combine Verafin’s anti-financial crime management products with Nasdaq’s regulatory technology.

This aquisition also included commitments by the aquirer to keep Verafin’s headquarters, and team in Newfoundland’s capital city St. John.

In addition, Nasdaq committed to working with Memorial University of Newfoundland to grow its scholarship program and fund at least six Mitacs fellowships. 

Nasdaq also committed to investing $1 million in a new research and development partnership project with Newfoundland and Labrador’s Genesis Centre, and increasing Verafin’s level of charitable giving.

Founded in 2003, Verafin provides a cloud-based software platform for fraud detection and management, Bank Security Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) compliance and management, high-risk customer management, and information sharing.

Over 2,000 banks and credit unions use Verafin to fight financial crime and comply with regulations. Its products use intelligent analytics and leverage machine learning, shared data insights, and visualization and investigation tools to increase detection accuracy and reduce costs for clients.

“This investment by Nasdaq is a major vote of confidence and a significant win for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador’s technology and innovation sector,” 

“Nasdaq’s clear commitments to the province will help foster prosperity and opportunity throughout the community as we continue to grow our business.”

said Jamie King, CEO of Verafin.

Nasdaq is a global technology company and SaaS provider that works in capital markets and other industries, offering data, analytics, software and services.

The United Nations estimates up to $2 trillion USD in laundered money flows through the financial system annually. Verafin’s capabilities will be made available to the 250 banks, exchanges, broker-dealers, buy-side organizations, and regulatory authorities that rely on Nasdaq’s technology to detect market manipulation and abuse.

“Verafin’s innovative fraud and AML detection platform, combined with Nasdaq’s leading trade and market surveillance solution, will empower Nasdaq to play an increasingly important role in building strong economies around the world,”

“We are committed to supporting innovation and growth in St. John’s and Newfoundland and Labrador. We believe that Verafin will not only complement and grow our existing presence in Canada, but also represents a potential catalyst for further investment opportunities in the province and the country.”

said Adena Friedman, president and CEO of Nasdaq.

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Canada’s new privacy protection bill was introduced last week to protect canadian’s privacy online, and companies that don’t comply could face important fines by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

On Tuesday, Minister Navdeep Bains introduced the bill, called the Consumer Privacy Protection Act, which is meant to modernize the Canadian government’s framework for the protection of personal information, specifically in the private sector.

The bill includes proposals for stronger protections of individual Canadians’ privacy and increases control over data and personal information.

The bill, if succesfully passed, would require companies to be more transparent about the collection and use of canadian’s data. 

The CPPA (Consumer Privacy Protection Act) would provide the Privacy Commissioner with more power, including the ability to force organizations to comply with the new privacy law and to set fines.

The commissioner will have the right to impose fines of up to five percent of global revenues or $25 million. It is important to note that this new Canadians Bill includes the strongest fines among G7 countries privacy laws.

Bains emphasized that the updates to PIPEDA laws and legislation that the newly introduced act would provide is about giving Canadians with greater control, transparency, and input into how their data is used. He argued, however, that the law would also provide businesses with more predictability and the ability to pursue innovation.

In response to the bill, executive director of the Council of Canadian Innovators, Benjamin Bergen, ‘’Canadian government is “playing catch-up” to the European Union, California and Quebec, which have all taken steps in recent years to advance data protection laws’’ 

Said Benjamin Bergen, Executive Director of the Council of Canadian Innovators

“Privacy protections and industry growth are not at odds, and clearer rules will give Canadian businesses confidence as they plan and grow,” said Bergen.

The proposed act is being touted as an “initial step” toward a more comprehensive reform of Canada’s privacy framework. The federal government is also proposing to modernize the Privacy Act, which applies to the federal public sector, also overseen by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation which is changing how Canadians work, access information, access services, and connect with their loved ones,” said Bains. 

“As Canadians increasingly rely on technology we need a system where they know how their data is used and where they have control over how it is handled. For Canada to succeed, and for our companies to be able to innovate in this new reality, we need a system founded on trust with clear rules and enforcement. This legislation represents an important step towards achieving this goal.”

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US Giant Rockwell Automation aquires Canadian AI Startup Fiix Inc. 

American Manufacturing Systems Leader Rockwell Automation has aquired Fiix Inc. a Toronto based startup that leverages AI to make industrial equipment maintenance more efficient. 

Fiix develops cloud-based, AI-enhanced computerized management systems for companies to organize their equipment maintenance. 

Fiix Inc.’s revenue expanded by over 70% last year after it bought Colorado-based Alchemy IoT, which builds machine-learning software.

“Joining Rockwell Automation will allow us to help even more companies modernize maintenance and increase asset performance by connecting to industry-leading data, automation and production systems,”

 Fiix CEO James Novak said.

Based in Wisconsin, Rockwell Automation has more than US$6 billion in annual revenue and is one of the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and digital transformation. 

It operates in over a hundred countries and employs about 23,000 people. According to Rockwell’s VP, adding Fiix Inc.’s system will allow its clients to increase their productivity.

“The future of industrial asset management is performance-based.”

“Our customers will benefit from a 360-degree view of integrated data across automation, production and maintenance, helping them to monitor and improve the performance of their assets and optimize how maintenance work is done,”

said Tessa Myers, a Rockwell vice president. 

Fiix operates in the software as a service (SaaS) sector to connect shop floor internet-of-things solutions, parts suppliers, contractors, and corporate I.T. systems to improve management for some 2,600 maintenance teams in more than 90 countries, it said.

Founded in 2008, Fiix raised $53 million last year after a US$12 million injection in 2018. Its backers include Georgian Partners Inc., a Toronto-based investment fund, and BuildGroup, a SaaS investor based in Austin, Texas.

“We’ve seen so many organizations in our space respond to COVID by undertaking ambitious digitization projects,” the chief executive said. “Despite the uncertainty of the past seven months, our amazing Fiixers continue to show up every day to help our customers navigate the changes and challenges in their own businesses.

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Stay tuned for weekly updates and the latest news from the world of Canadian start-ups.

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