Ontario Centres of Excellence Backs a Winner: Distil Interactive



    OTTAWA, June 18 /CNW/ - Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc. is
pleased to announce that Distil Interactive (formerly i2Learning) of Ottawa, a
leading developer of new media platforms, has received a $2.2 million
investment from GrowthWorks Canadian Fund. Distil is a true OCE success story.
With investment and support from OCE's Centre of Excellence for Communications
and Information Technology, Distil developed the intellectual property that
gives them a competitive advantage. The follow-on investment by GrowthWorks is
a ringing endorsement of OCE's strategy for readying innovative technologies
for the marketplace.
    Distil creates automated teaching and testing solutions enhancing
personnel skills training, assessment and certification. Their interactive
digital games provide virtual environments where players learn and demonstrate
skills and behaviours for anything from interviewing techniques to emergency
response procedures. The company released five products worldwide this year,
and has struck distribution deals globally.
    In late 2005, OCE invested $50,000 to create a collaborative partnership
between Distil and researchers at the University of Ottawa. The results of the
partnership were so promising that OCE made a further investment through its
highly competitive Accelerator program, the goal of which is to strengthen the
ability of companies to bring advanced technologies developed in Ontario
research institutions to the marketplace. In October 2006, GrowthWorks made a
$700,000 investment in the firm. Their recent investment of Series A financing
reflects their heightened confidence in the company's potential.
    "Distil Interactive is an excellent example of the economic impact that
can result when OCE brings industry need together with research expertise,"
says Mark Romoff, President and CEO, Ontario Centres of Excellence. "Not only
is the company now positioned to contribute to Ontario through employment and
revenue generation, it is also enhancing the industry-relevant skills of
talented researchers."
    Tim Lee, senior vice president at GrowthWorks Capital, commented that
"Distil Interactive represents the leading edge of a new wave of innovative
Ottawa-based technology companies. Its proprietary data-mining technology has
benefited tremendously from the nexus of OCE, academia and private industry.
As a commercialized product, it uniquely positions the company to provide
quantitative skill and behaviour assessment. Since our initial investment, the
company has made strides in its initial market traction, and we look forward
to working with them as they continue to execute on their go-to-market
strategy."
    The partnership has also resulted in the company benefiting from gifted
research talent. Dr. Jelber Sayyad Shirabad, a post-doctoral fellow with the
University of Ottawa, has worked as the lead researcher since the beginning of
the project under the direction of renowned machine learning and data-mining
expert, Professor Stan Matwin. Distil is also partnering with OCE on a project
with Professor Yongyi Mao at the University of Ottawa - this project will
enhance the skills of several highly qualified personnel. By creating these
connections, OCE is helping move innovative minds to industry where they can
bring their exceptional skills and training to drive competitiveness and
economic prosperity. The Distil team has grown to 25 people in the last year.
    Additional good news for Distil in 2007 includes its placement as a
finalist for the Canadian New Media Awards in the Most Promising New Company
category, and being chosen as a finalist for the Ottawa Centre for Research
and Innovation's Most Promising Start-Up Award.

    About Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc.

    Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc. drives the commercialization of
cutting-edge research across key market sectors to build the economy of
tomorrow and secure Ontario's global competitiveness. In doing this, OCE also
fosters the training and development of the next generation of innovators and
entrepreneurs, and is a key partner with Ontario's industry, universities,
colleges, research hospitals, investors and governments. Celebrating 20 years
of innovation in 2007, OCE's five Centres work in communications and
information technology, earth and environmental technologies, energy,
materials and manufacturing, and photonics.





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