Ontario Centres of Excellence Investment Accelerates Three Ontario Start-ups

    TORONTO, April 30 /CNW/ - Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc.
announced today the investment of $750,000 in three high-potential, innovative
Ontario technology start-ups: Northern Nanotechnologies; Sketch2 Corp.; and
Vennsa Technologies. The three companies each received $250,000 of pre-seed
investment through OCE's Commercialization program, strengthening the
companies' ability to bring advanced technologies developed in Ontario
research institutions to the marketplace.
    "OCE's investment will help realize the commerical promise of the three
new companies," says Mark Romoff, President and CEO, Ontario Centres of
Excellence. "Each of the firms is taking to market a technolgy that could have
a profound impact in a number of sectors critical to Ontario and beyond. OCE's
business planning and product development, and its extensive network, will
accelerate the growth of these firms, helping them turn research and
technology innovation into an economic driver for the province."

    Northern Nanotechnologies (NNT) is a leading-edge nanomaterials company
whose key innovation is the NanoCrafting(TM) Process: a patent-pending,
scalable, and cost effective method to custom design nanomaterials for a wide
range of industries. Nanomaterials are on the scale of 1/10,000th the width of
a human hair and when materials become this small, they take on entirely new
properties. Manufacturers incorporating nanomaterial properties in their
materials can differentiate their products, increase revenues or reduce costs.
NNT is currently working on coating and catalyst applications, but the process
allows NNT to control the identity and structure of practically any kind of
nanoparticle. NNT helps its customers build better products, sooner -
improving their bottom line. The company is based on technology created
through research that OCE supported in the laboratory of University of Toronto
Chemistry Professor, Dr. Cynthia Goh. The firm will be led by Keith Thomas,
who has successfully directed a number of growth companies. Mr. Thomas is
working closely with Dr. Darren Anderson, Chief Technology Officer, who is
leading product development.

    Sketch2 Corp. will bring the value of advances in information
technologies to the relatively underserved design and construction sector. The
technology will allow designers, vendors, contractors and developers to
communicate in a much more efficient, sophisticated and effective way. At more
than $1.2 trillion in annual revenues, the AEC (Architecture, Engineering,
Construction) industry is the second largest industrial sector in North
America. As much as 30 per cent of a given project's cost can be consumed by
the inefficiencies of facsimile communication, reproduction of drawings,
product sourcing and more. Sketch2 is poised to take a commanding role in the
market by brokering the relationships between the key players. The technology
was developed by Dr. Karan Singh, a computer science professor at the
University of Toronto, whose work in graphics software has been used by Steven
Spielberg and George Lucas. Put simply, the technology allows a designer to
begin a sketch - the software then suggests a template illustration, which if
acceptable, can then be fully finessed by the designer. The finished
illustration is then linked to vendor information, searching catalogues for
prices, specifications and ordering options. The sketches form the basis of a
fully integrated communications system between designers, suppliers, builders
and beyond. The spin-off company, Sketch2 Corp., is being led by architect and
entrepreneur Colin Graham.

    Vennsa Technologies Inc. has developed fully automated debugging
solutions for several key stages of the design process. The hottest consumer
electronics products of today are all made possible by a semiconductor
industry that consistently creates smaller, faster and more powerful
integrated circuits to power these devices. Designing these increasingly
complex chips is an incredibly challenging process with costs expected to
reach $25M or more to design a single leading edge chip. Debugging - finding
and diagnosing errors in the design - follows the task of verification. Today,
debugging is still done manually and can account for 25% of the total design
cost and time. Vennsa's tools will cut this manual effort time by 30-50 per
cent. Vennsa's tools will be indispensable to managing more complex designs,
bringing them to market faster, and improving quality and reliability. Chips
designed with help from Vennsa's tools will power the next generation of
small, powerful, portable devices like video cell phones, MP3 players and
digital cameras - not to mention the devices we have not yet realized we
cannot live without. The company is a spin off from the University of
Toronto's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

    Mark Romoff will present OCE's investment to the leader of each of the
companies at Discovery 2007: TO NEXT - OCE's second annual conference on May
1. Discovery 2007 brings together leading scientists, entrepreneurs,
investors, students, business and government representatives - all in one
place, to explore what's new, what's needed, and ways to work together.

    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 development of the next generation of innovators and
entrepreneurs, and is a key partner with Ontario's industries, 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. For more information, please visit
our web site at www.oce-ontario.org.

For further information:

For further information: Ann Holtby, Marketing & Communications, OCE,
Tel. (416) 861-1092 or ann.holtby@oce-ontario.org

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