Building a Cross-Border MedHealth Cluster

In April, WEtech Alliance helped put together the largest cross border MedHealth Summit in Detroit. MedHealth is the medical innovation cluster advancing businesses, healthcare systems, research universities, and funders in Michigan and Southwestern Ontario.  WEtech has joined the leadership of MedHealth as a result of its successful cross border collaboration of Hacking Health Windsor + Detroit.

The MedHealth Summit was an enormous success of promoting medical innovation and displaying collaboration in our region.  The keynote speaker was the inspirational Dr. Bennet Omalu, who was played by Will Smith in the movie ‘Concussion‘.  He created a great excitement in focusing the attendees on disruptive innovation thinking for the MedHealth sector.

WEtech Alliance Entrepreneur-in-Residence Deborah Livneh (left) with Dr. Bennet Omalu at the MedHealth Summit

Many exceptional Medtech innovations were on display by 43 early-and-second stage companies. What was unique about this summit was that we had matched Innovators with Investors and matched market ready ventures with 16 healthcare systems and hospitals. All, according to the innovators, investors, and hospitals preference.  There were 131 pre-scheduled private meetings that took place in separate rooms.

Twenty two Investor firms came from Michigan, Ontario and as far away as Chicago and China. Most innovators came from Windsor and Detroit. Incredibly, several start-ups traveled from as far as Toronto and London for the opportunity to meet U.S. hospitals and American investors.

WEtech clients have benefited from participating in MedHealth Summit in a variety of ways.

Some had a table to display their innovation to investors.

Some also had pre-scheduled speed-dating meetings with investors, a couple of clients had pre-scheduled 20 minutes sessions with US hospitals.

Several clients achieved exposure through speaking on the summit’s 2 panels.

All clients had the opportunity to network with attendees, as well as, meet with the Ontario Health Innovation Broker, Martin Gurbin. He was there to speak and to help clients connect with Ontario health care system.

The following WEtech clients participated in the summit:
Audacia Bioscience, Clinic Seeker, RF Kinetics, Clear Voxel Imaging, True Phantom Solutions, Next HealthCare, Sarjan, OnTrack IVF, EMN and Infinit Nutrition. ITOS Oncology and Bisep were also registered, and would benefit from being connected to the medhealth cross border ecosystem.

Evidence of the great potential long term impact of our excellent regional collaboration summit, came immediately following the end of summit.

Stephen Konya, Senior Innovation Strategist for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explained how US support the clusters development across the United States.  He indicated that the ONC HHS is looking to reach out to Canada by connecting with MaRS.  Impressively, Mr. Gurbin, the Ontario Health Innovation Broker had asked that the U S Federal government contact both MaRS as well as WEtech Alliance!

WEtech is now a part of the Bi-national collaboration that allow our clients’ exposure to US government as well.

How amazing!

Deborah Livneh is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at WEtech Alliance. Deborah’s business experience ranges from co-founding and working with startup companies to serving multinational corporations. She is notably a veteran co-founder of an innovative medical technology enterprise.

My Hacking Health Journey

Going to Hacking Health was one of the best experiences I’ve had in recent memory. It opened my eyes to the world of entrepreneurship, and I’ve been in the startup world ever since. Before going to Hacking Health, I was a student at St. Clair College in Web Development and working part-time at Best Buy. I had no interest in business or entrepreneurship and thought that I wanted to be a designer in a big company.

I had heard of Hacking Health from my professors at the college, but it didn’t sound that interesting because I didn’t think that I had any good ideas for healthcare or had a skill set that would be useful to anyone in the competition.

I was at my part-time job one day when I ran into Irek, whom I had never met before. He asked me what I was in school for, and when I told him Web Development, he said that I should come to Hacking Health and gave me his business card. A few weeks later my professor mentioned it again and encouraged me to go, and I was convinced.

Dr. Michael Lanham pitches his idea for OnTrack IVF

The first day of Hacking Health, I had no idea what to expect.

When I arrived, I saw a large group of people who I didn’t know. The organizers said that the people in the group who had ideas for the hackathon would get 30 seconds to pitch their idea to the group, in the hopes of getting people to join their team.

I was sitting in the crowd when Dr. Michael Lanham came up to pitch his idea. He explained that a lot of the Fertility clinics in the US give out-of-date paper information to patients, which goes out of date soon after they get it. This leads to patients making mistakes with their medication that could have been avoided. He suggested making an electronic tool that clinics could use to send patients the information they need and keep it up to date, so it’s always accurate – making it far less likely that patients could make a mistake.

I loved the idea, and after the pitches, I went and joined his team. Our team worked together over the next two days, and I ended up making the design of the app. We pitched on the final day, and ended up winning two awards!

Alex Gervais (left) and the team from OnTrack IVF, winners of 2 awards at the inaugural Hacking Health Windsor + Detroit event in 2015.

A few months later, Dr. Lanham approached me and offered me a full-time position at the University of Michigan to work on the idea. We later founded a company together called OnTrackIVF, with the goal of using the software we’re creating to make a positive change in the way fertility clinics communicate with patients. So I ended up getting a dream job of being a UX designer at the University of Michigan while I was still in school, and continue to work there today.

Hacking Health was an amazing experience. I had the chance to meet a lot of great people and work on an exciting idea that is giving real people a better, safer healthcare experience. I strongly encourage anyone to go; everyone brings something to the table even if you’re not sure what it is. Making the healthcare system better is easier when we have people with a diverse set of skills working on problems together.

Alex Gervais is UX/UI Designer & Full Stack Web Developer at the University of Michigan, Designer & Co-Founder of OnTrack IVF and Hacking Health Windsor + Detroit award winner.

Hacking Health Windsor + Detroit returns for Year 4 April 13th + 14th. Join us!

Why the iPhone X is like “The Last Jedi”

(WARNING – iPhone X and Star Wars Spoilers ahead!)

2017 goes down in my personal history as a year in which I was eagerly anticipating 2 major events in December; the arrival of the 9th generation Apple iPhone product (with the confusing name of X meaning 10 for the devices 10th anniversary) and the 8th Star Wars installment with an equally confusing name, “The Last Jedi”. The hype during the year was palpable and media experts estimate Apple and Disney spent a combined $2 Billion (yes with a B) to convince us we would love both products.

They were wrong.

I have an iPhone 6Plus that I purchased at the Apple store in San Francisco in 2014. It’s an amazing device but I resisted the temptation to upgrade to the 6S, 7 and 7S because the improvements were so incremental there was no need to. Same with 8, although wireless charging and a faster processor were tempting. What this did, of course, was make me even more excited to purchase the next generation iPhone, the “X” (10 or Ten but never “x”). In a similar way, “The Force Awakens”, released in 2015, left me wanting to know what happens next.

I was so excited when the iPhone arrived at my door Dec 5th that I actually did a little dance when I opened the box. Similarly, I eagerly watched every trailer for the new Star Wars film and engaged in numerous fan conversations about who Rey’s parents were, what is Snoke’s background and will Finn be ok when he wakes up. It could not get any better than this, I thought.

I was wrong.

Both the X and The Last Jedi are masterpieces in their own rights: both beautiful to look at and packed with amazing, breathtaking technology. But now after I have had time to reflect on both, they both feel somewhat empty and unfulfilling. In both cases I am left with the feeling that this is the end of the revolution (or rebellion) as it were.

Using your face to unlock your device definitely seems like a Jedi Mind Trick where you can will your phone to unlock, but after using it for a number of weeks, it worked only about half the time. The actual phone calling ability of the X produced terrible quality phone calls, similar to the pathetically unfunny phone call Poe had with General Hux at the beginning of the movie. While Apple can probably fix this problem in future updates, that sad Family Guy style Star Wars joke will live on forever (like Jar Jar Binks, unless there is a fan version that cuts out the dumb bits).

Apples Animoji feature on the X allowing you to turn your face into an animated emoji is fun the first time you see it, like the cute little Porg that befriends Chewy, although in both cases you hope to never see them again. I had high hopes for more battery life with the new phone, but alas, it ran of gas quickly like Vice Admiral Holdo’s cruiser did (before it took one last light-speed blast into the Dreadnaught – what?).

Gadget Guy Rob Whent’s high hopes for Solo-esque hero Poe Dameron were dashed in The Last Jedi.

In The Force Awakens, I had high hopes for Poe Dameron. He had the Solo Swagger with a bit of Landau Calrissian thrown in for good measure. In The Last Jedi he is reduced to a whiny and annoying plot element, like the much maligned and ever present “notch” at the top of the iPhone X. You try hard not to let it bother you, but it does. Big time.

Episode VIII was the most expensive Start Wars movie to date, and Apple copied this by making the X the most expensive iPhone ever – and this is its biggest downfall. The 256G version of the iPhone is a staggering $1,730 CDN with tax and the must have Apple Care insurance policy (the entire phone is GLASS!) is an additional $281CDN bringing this phone to just over $2,000! For a phone! Well in the end, I sent the iPhone X back to Apple for a full refund and restored my last backup to my iPhone 6 Plus only to find out that Apple is deliberately slowing its older phones down so they don’t work as well as the new models. Disney may be doing this too – by killing off all the Star Wars characters we love and care about, Disney is slowing down older audiences from wanting to go see Star Wars IX in 2019.

Rob Whent is an Industrial Technology Advisor with the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program, helping accelerate the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises by providing them with a comprehensive suite of innovation services and support. He can be reached by emailing him at

Any views or opinions expressed are that of the author and do not represent those of NRC.

Check out Rob “Gadget Guy” Whent’s other guest blog posts: Wearables 2.0, My Internet of Things, Anyone Hungry for a Raspberry Pi?

Reflections & Predictions: A Look Back on 2017 & Ahead to 2018

Each year we ask the WEtech Alliance team to share their favorite moments from the past year, as well as what they’re looking forward to in the year to come.

Here’s what they had to say about their reflections on 2017 and predictions for 2018.


How quickly the year goes by! The past year has been yet another transformative year for WEtech Alliance. New team members (welcome Adam Frye), new leadership (welcome Chair, Paolo Piuno), new board members (welcome Justine Jansen, Michael Furtado and Amar Singh), new clients and members, and a new home at the University of Windsor’s EPICentre. We’ve had clients achieve their first sale, secure angel investment, establish new space, and even prepare to travel across the globe to further grow their venture. These milestones are what drives our team and makes our jobs so rewarding.

The past year also included building on existing partnerships including that with the Chatham-Kent Economic Development Corporation and the City of Chatham-Kent. A special shout out to Mayor Randy Hope, Stuart McFadden and team for your ongoing support. We are eager to host our first-ever teCK Night in 2018.

Another special memory is the inaugural Tech Week YQG. Never have I been so proud of YQG’s tech community. This event not only brought together the local tech community but formed partnerships with global tech giants IBM, GM and Amazon. Seeing over 400 people – and Chamber President Matt Marchand experience PlayStation Virtual Reality – are memories that I will cherish from 2017. I can’t wait to see what Tech Week YQG 2018 will bring. Will our Amazon partnership get even “closer” (wink, wink)?

Our team would be remised if we did not thank our past Chair, Adam Davis, for his leadership as well as commitment to WEtech Alliance since opening its doors in 2010. Adam, you are a true pillar in this community and we are grateful for your leadership and commitment to promoting technology and innovation in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent. By the way, congrats again on your “WEtech Choice Tech Award”.

Last but definitely not least, 2017 would not have been as impactful without the efforts and dedication of the WEtech team. This team knows no limits – as well as no caffeine limits – and any leader knows that your business is only as good as the talent that makes it. A special thank you to the newest member of the team, Adam Frye, who has not only helped build out our first-ever accelerator program, Libro StartUP and War Rooms, but has been an instrumental part in growing our suite of business advisory programs and services.


Partnerships, partnerships, and more partnerships!

With 8 years under our belt, WEtech has grown its brand and footprint in our community. We’ve made great new partnerships this year including but not limited to that with Libro Credit Union (Libro StartUP), AlphaKOR Group (Tech Titan), Capitol Theatre of Windsor and WEpodcast (Tech In The City), Connecting Windsor-Essex and The City of Windsor (Smart City Challenge), WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation (Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN), University of Windsor and EPICentre (New Space and New Programming), St. Clair College (Nerd Olympics and Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit IV), Techtown Detroit (Med Health Summit), and CDMN (Advisory Board).

2018 will continue along the same path with new partnerships being built locally, nationally, and internationally to assist our Clients and Members in achieving success and job creation.

Last but not least, we are looking forward to expanding the team as well as our programming offering in 2018 thanks to the recent success of an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant. Our new programing will target helping Clients with scaling and corporations with innovating.


I am so excited to see our Clients accelerating their businesses and products to market.  Until recently, some were just start-up entrepreneurs with an idea. Now, it is wonderful to watch them acquire paying customers, hire their first employee, get awarded government funding, secure investment for growth, and expand their reach internationally. As their advisor, I am thrilled to be a part of their journey, and it is most gratifying to see them become successful!

2017 was an exciting year as we had continued with our focus on the life science sector.  Our region has recognized that Health Innovation is an Economic Driver. WEtech in collaboration with community partners, university, college and hospitals promoted our region as a gateway to the USA and an attractive place to develop and adopt medical innovations.  We have become a strategic partner of MedHealth Cluster in Michigan. Together, we want to build up the medtech and health IT sectors in Southeast Michigan and Southwestern Ontario region. The collaborative initiatives will advance clinical research, grow innovative health technologies, attract high value investments, and create attractive high paying careers in our region.


I’m looking forward to an opportunity to engage in new and exciting initiatives and technologies.  We are excited to plan the MedHealth Summit, a match making event that will connect our medtech innovative clients and American payers and big US VC investors.  It is so great to be a part of the dynamic and enthusiastic WEtech team.  We will support our entrepreneurs in accelerating their businesses and help them making real headway into the market place in the coming year! Happy 2018 to all!


I am so proud of our inaugural Libro StartUP accelerator program.  It was a privilege working with startups who embody the perseverance and courage of entrepreneurship.  It was a treat watching them accelerate their business, overcome challenges, and lean on each other.  Whether it was their first or fifth sale, hire or investors pitch – we felt blessed to be part of their success and celebration.  None of this would have been possible without the amazing community driven team at Libro Credit Union whose enthusiasm was infectious and whose encouragement was unwavering. It was a dream working with Lori Atkinson and the Libronites.


I am looking forward to the launch of a new initiative called Innovation Quarters (IQ).  The premise is simple – help large organizations to spark and cultivate ideas from frontline staff that will improve service delivery, increase efficiency and potentially bring some of those ideas to market.  We were inspired by the story of Kaitlyn Sheehan – a local nurse we met through Hacking Health who developed several technologies which improve patient outcomes.  Or Lisa Jacobs, another healthcare professional who created a mobile app called Clinic Seeker that lets folks locate the nearest clinic and provides wait times.  Traveling soccer moms love Lisa and Clinic Seeker – and so do we.  WEtech is betting that we can help identify many more Kaitlyn Sheehans and Lisa Jacobs through IQ – and we are looking forward to partnering with some dynamic organizations who are looking to boost their IQ.


It’s been another amazing year at WEtech Alliance!

Our inaugural Libro StartUP program was a huge success, with 5 amazing Startups that are on pace to explode in 2018.

Our 2nd annual Nerd Olympics saw the addition of 2 Community Challenges, which saw over $3200 in cash and gift cards, and 385 supplies donated to the Welcome Centre Shelter and 47 blood donations made to the local chapter of Canadian Blood Services. It was also great to have new teams from the IT departments at the City of Windsor and St. Clair College as well as students from the University of Windsor Computer Science department join us.

Another big highlight for me was our first ever Tech Week YQG. It was great to bring out tech community together for a week of fun, learning and opportunity. I’m really looking forward to growing this week out even further in 2018.


We have an exciting year planned for 2018, with a number of new partnerships and program offerings being introduced throughout Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent, including our new Innovation Quarters initiative, WEtech War Rooms and a new ScaleUP program, just to name a few.

My predictions for 2018 can be summed up in one word – GROWTH. Growth of our team, with the addition of a new Startup Business Advisor & Program Manager. Growth of our community and ecosystem partnerships. Growth of our program offerings & initiatives. Growth of our regional focus. And most importantly, growth of our tech companies and local tech sector overall.

Be sure to follow our WEtech Alliance social media channels – FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, YOUTUBE, LINKEDIN – for details coming soon!


2017 was a banner year in terms of client impact for WEtech. We were able to foster incredible community partnerships with folks like Libro Credit Union in order to offer the ecosystem something brand new in the Libro StartUP Accelerator. It was an absolute blessing to be able to work alongside our Startup 5 and to not only see their businesses grow, but to watch them grow as people. We were able to develop new programming in the form of our monthly War Rooms, renew our dedication to providing world class support to our clients, and had some fun along the way.


2018 is going to be a massive growth year for WEtech across the board. More targeted programming in our War Rooms, Cohort Sessions, and Libro ScaleUP. Bigger community impact through Nerd Olympics, Hacking Health, and Tech Week. As well as finding ways to help large organizations become more innovative through IQ. If 2017 was about building, 2018 is about execution, and we could not be more excited for what’s to come. 


As we close another year, I reflect on how WEtech provided opportunities, partnerships and programs to grow stronger companies in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent.

The Nerd Olympic events challenged teams with trivia, jumping, shooting, sliding to victory (or not) both on and off the field! Fun activities that strengthened the Tech community. Tech Week educated, accelerated and celebrated the local tech community as well.

Our Team has passion just like entrepreneurs and together we’re changing the landscape of this region one day at a time.


As we ramp up 2018, WEtech’s activities will be robust!

Our activities and programs including; WINnovation, ScaleUP, FIRST Robotics, Hacking Health, MedHealth Summit, Social Media Day, Clean Tech Academy, P2Ps, Nerd Olympic Challenge, and our ever growing Tech Job Board are at the top of our list to continue to grow.

Tech Week will showcase tech leaders and entrepreneurs, researchers, and investors.

Whew… that’s an aggressive whiteboard, but our Team is excited at the prospect of changing the image of YQG in 2018!

Buy Local This Holiday Season: 2017 #YQG Holiday Gift Guide

We’ve scoured the City and County to bring you a list of #YQG gift ideas that are sure to make this year’s holiday shopping easy and most importantly, LOCAL!

Please note, this is merely a snapshot of available local gift ideas. Windsor-Essex is filled with great businesses, restaurants and people. Share your suggestions with us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Bring the perfect gift to your Holiday party or tree with these local Gift Boxes.

Company: Spotvin


Each pack includes: Pom Toque, Choice of Unisex Tee and Metal Pin. All Holiday Packs will be delivered in Windsor free of charge.

Price: $45
Company: Ocean Bottom Soaps


Product: 12 different soaps featuring 12 different local businesses in a wood box crafted from whiskey barrels!

Price: $124.99
Company: Love Your City


Product: Treat Yourself or Someone Special this Holiday Season. Local goodies & apparel hand selected and carefully delivered to your door by our elves. Deliveries & Pick Ups begin December 16th

Price: $50-$150
Company: Border City Urban Farms


Product: The WE Box is a curated local food box featuring the best local produce in Windsor & Essex County, from our area’s top farmers and producers.

Price: $25-$30
Company: Secret Sip Coffee Club


Product: A monthly membership delivers a secret 250g package, which is over a half pound of fresh coffee, the first week of every month for the duration of your membership.

Price: $13.99 monthly
Company: H&F Foods


Product: Antibiotic, Hormone and pesticide free Ontario meats – straight from the farm delivered to your doorstep.

Price: Beef Box Meals from $139.99.

Stocking stuffers and gift ideas that are made in or sold at local small businesses in YQG.

Company: WEpodcast


Product: WE Podcast is a brand new local podcast network which will feature a vast variety of audio and visual entertainment, with local programming available in your car, your home, and on the go with a free downloadable app.

Price: Monthly Plan - $2.99/month, Yearly Plan - $29.90/year
Company: BB Branded


Product: Limited Edition Rose City gear.

Price: $29-$99
Company: FLOAT Lakeshore


Product: Holiday shopping have you feeling stressed? Spend an hour turning off this crazy world, floating effortlessly in a sensory deprivation tank filled with ten inches of a silky solution containing 1000 pounds of pharmaceutical grade epsom salt.

Price: One (1) 60 minute Float Session $75
Company: Walkerville Publishing


Product: 5000 Ways You Know You’re From Detroit book

Price: $49.95
Company: Aloraflora Jewelry


Product: Simple, everyday wear or pieces with flair, custom bridal jewellery, Swarovski accents.

Price: Starting at $45
Company: Dark Roast Digital


Product: Limited Edition Ambassador Bright Illustration. 32" x 40" Print on Canvas. Wood Frame with Acrylic Glass and Velvet Lining. Only 50 Made.

Price: $180
Company: Kelcom Wireless


Product: Google Home Mini

Price: Limited Time special - only $39.99
Company: Wreaths By MG


Product: Handmade wreaths, candy cane décor.

Price: $20-30
Company: Spiritual Soldiers


Product: Clothing with a cause. Spiritual Soldiers is a clothing line with all profits going back to recovery homes in South Western Ontario.

Price: Starting at $20
Company: ShopEco


Product: A must have for any craft beer fan. Faerhaven’s Six Pack of beer soaps is made with local craft beers from Walkerville Brewery Craft Heads Brew and Brew Windsor.

Price: Starting at $42
Company: Quill Apparel & Printing Co.


Product: Is your kid an artist? Why not put their masterpiece on a T-shirt and make them feel like the real deal?!

Price: Starting at $40
Company: Culture Shock Jewelry


Product: Handmade indigenous jewelry, Moccasins, Dreamcatchers & Art. (Also pictured are items from Finity Teething Jewelry and Pocket Squares, available at Urban Art Market)

Price: Baby moccasins start at $65, other items vary in price. Available at the Urban Art Market – 548 Chilver Ave., Windsor.

Company: Imaginative Group


Product: This holiday season, you can bring the best of WIN City into your home with this Windsor poster, featuring some of the city’s most notable landmarks in the most colourful way. But don’t wait too long! The offer finishes on Christmas Day, 2017.

Price: $34.99 (available in "Dawn" or "Dusk" versions)
Company: Bamboo Beats


Product: Stylish, Eco-friendly, Unique, Bamboo Phone Amplifiers

Price: $15 for an original stained Bamboo Beat & $20 for a custom finish.
Company: Calleyco


Product: Handcrafted & one-of-a-kind items.

Price: Varies

This holiday season enjoy terrific local food produced right here in #YQG.

Company: Denali Chocolates


Product: Gourmet chocolate dipped strawberry platters, towers and customizable gift boxes.

Price: Varies
Company: Not Just Any Cheesecake


Product: Specializing in homemade decadent Cheesecakes, Cheesecake Cakes, Cakes and many other Sweet Treats, perfect for any occasion!

Price: Varies
Company: Cookies by Kathy


Product: Specializing in homemade and hand decorated cookies.

Price: Varies
Company: The Hungry Pooch


Product: PAWliday Gift Bag

Price: $39.99
Company: Rallis Olive Oil


Product: A premium, raw, unfiltered, extra virgin olive oil; pressed completely in the absence of heat (Ice Pressed) within 12 hours of hand harvesting, from superior category early harvest olives - the results, a near flawless acidity of 0.1% and an unbelievably “refreshing” raw, olive taste!

Price: Varies
Company: Dressed by an Olive


Product: Custom Holiday Baskets

Price: Taste teasers starting at $10. Themed Grab n' Go baskets starting at $46.
Company: Infinit Nutrition Canada


Product: Finally, a functional iced coffee! Low carbs, low sugar, but packed with protein and flavour. New Zealand Whey Protein Isolate, 100% Coffee, Organic Coconut Sugar, and Richmix – a non dairy creamer, combine for an easy and tasty protein iced coffee.

Price: Prices range from $3.95 to $249.95.
Company: Walkerville Brewery


Product: New, limited edition Holiday seasonal Spiced Mocha Porter - a collaboration with Anchor Coffee House.

Price: $9.95 for 500ml bottles and $50 for the 2L (limited release of 125 bottles!)
Company: Sun Parlor Honey


Product: Producing fresh, local honey since 1925, uncluding liquid honey, creamed or in the comb.

Price: Varies

Gift giving season is upon us, and it’s no surprise that the Small Business Centre is a big fan of shopping small, especially when it comes to gifts! We have pulled together a few of Windsor-Essex’s loved small businesses for this year’s Holiday Gift Guide.

Company: 30ml Coffee Co.


Product: Offering hot java, as well as their signature cold brew, in Rich Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chocolate.

Price: Varies
Company: Ani & Fabi


Product: Providing kits to make your holiday baking easier. They now have gluten-free kits available.

Price: Varies
Company: Bungalow Home Decor


Product: Specializing in condo sized furniture and home essentials, this shop is ideal for the urban dweller.

Price: Varies
Company: The Cheese Bar


Product: Focusing on South Western Ontario producers, The Cheese Bar provides artisan cheeses & charcuterie boards for all events.

Price: Varies
Company: Crafty Candles


Product: Offering the finest, hand-crafted candles made of refined paraffin, soy and gel waxes. Made in Essex.

Price: Varies
Company: The Flower Shop at Thiessens


Product: Visit The Flower Shop for beautiful decor this holiday and all year 'round.

Price: Varies
Company: Old Dutch Guys Chocolate


Product: These beautifully handcrafted chocolates may be the perfect gift, but sometimes can be too pretty to eat!

Price: Varies
Company: RARE Apparel


Product: Real Authentic. Real Etiquette. This comfy clothing line seeks to promote Windsor-Essex.

Price: Varies
Company: Sissy & Roché


Product: Kingsville's newest art gallery is more than just display - it's art and cooking classes, and a curated gift shoppe!

Price: Varies
Company: Sports Zone


Product: If you're looking for the perfect gift for a sports lover, Sports Zone carries officially licensed sports apparel.

Price: Varies
Company: The Vintage Witch Shoppe


Offering vintage clothing and antiques, this shoppe is great for those with an old soul.

Price: Varies

Whether tied to #YQG by birth, re-location, school or geography, here are some more gift ideas that have still have some #YQG tied to them.

Company: The Whisky Jack


Product: Hand-crafted Liquor Dispensers

Price: $89.95-$99.95
Company: The Retro Suites Hotel


Product: Southwestern Ontario Premier Boutique Hotel with 45 suites and 7 long term stay apartments located in Historic Downtown Chatham Ontario

Price: Varies

Tired of hearing “I’m bored”? Why not keep your kiddos, friends and family busy with these local activities.

Activity: Bright Lights Windsor


Details: Featuring a 64' tall illuminated tree in the Queen Elizabeth II Sunken Gardens, Thousands of lights & a host of iconic holiday characters throughout the park, Special light shows and Horse-drawn carriage rides.
Activity: Windsor Comedy Festival


Details: Windsor Comedy Festival returns for its fifth year and brings great entertainment to tickle your funny bone on December 27th at Chrysler Theatre.
Activity: River Lights Amherstburg


Details: River Lights is a 6 week long Festival held in Amherstburg's Navy Yard Park.
Activity: Skyzone Windsor


Details: Wall-to-wall aerial action in Windsor's newest trampoline park!
Activity: Fantasy of Lights


Details: Through the winter months, Lakeside Park in Kingsville is magically transformed in to a sea of colorful displays for “Fantasy of Lights.”
Activity: Roseland Gulf & Curling Club


Details: Curling facilities are available from November through March for curling bonspiels, league play, and individual ice sheet rental.
Activity: Christkindlmarkt


Details: A traditional German indoor & outdoor Christmas market. Awesome local vendors, children’s make & take craft station, Gluhwein, hot chocolate, live music & more!
Activity: Willistead Manor Holiday Tours 2017


Details: Enjoy Windsor’s historic Willistead Manor Holiday House Tours in Old Walkerville on Sunday, December 3, 10 & 17, 2017.
Activity: Windsor Symphony Orchestra


Details: Celebrate the Holidays with the WSO! Enjoy your favourite Holiday tunes, a musical telling of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and a visit from a special guest in a red coat!

Check out even more #YQG Holiday Activities in’s Windsor Christmas Events Guide!


Looking for even MORE local gift ideas? Click the images below to check out some of our Annual #YQG Gift Guides from years past!

Click the image below to view our 2016 #YQG Gift Guide

Click the image below to view our 2015 #YQG Gift Guide

Check out even more local gift ideas with Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island’s W.E. Made It: Holiday Gift Guide!

Tapping into the Global Hacking Health Network

It was a gorgeous fall day in midtown Detroit when we sat down with Sebastien Mabillard, the Executive Director of Swiss Digital Health, for a chat about all things health and tech.

Sebastien flew in from Switzerland in search of best practices for developing the health tech sector to bring back home – and was eager to learn about the cross-border Med Health Cluster and Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit, spearheaded by WEtech Alliance and TechTown Detroit.

“In Hacking Health you have this global platform for tackling health care challenges,” says Sebastien.  “The systems may be different, but the challenges are so similar that you’re sharing new approaches and new insights.”

He was catching his breath after a brisk agenda already shuttled him through Montreal and Toronto – where he met with the Hacking Health teams on the ground, toured the MaRS Discovery District that accelerates tech companies, and met with folks from St. Elizabeth and CHU Saint Justine hospital.

Along the way Sebastien participated in the Cooperathon – the largest open innovation competition in Canada and the successful inaugural Arthritis Hack hosted by Hacking Health Toronto.

Sebastien’s visit, and subsequent meetings with stakeholders in Detroit and Ann Arbor was organized by Zain Ismail, a Senior Consultant at Henry Ford Health System and member of the Organizing Committee for Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit.  This included touring the Henry Ford Innovation Institute and meeting with Henry Ford’s performance improvement team to discuss use cases for digital health technology in an urban healthcare environment.

Paul Riser hosted our meeting at Tech Town Detroit, where he is the Director of Tech-Based Entrepreneurship.

Crossing borders and boundaries in search of common ground is nothing new for Sebastien.  The Swiss health care system spans 26 cantons – each one responsible for delivering health care with their own local variations – and across four languages.

“For testing and designing solutions, Switzerland is this little laboratory because you can test across three cultures and three languages – it’s a plus and it’s part of our pitch to health care companies,” says Sebastien.

Swiss Digital Health was established in 2016 to bring creative people together in tech and health – to serve as that bridge – which is what attracted Sebastien to Hacking Health.

But the actual hackathon is just the beginning, he says.

“What is critical is having the service around the idea, to support the people who leave a Hacking Health hackathon with an idea,” Sebastien says.  “What’s next? That’s’ the critical question.  And that’s the question behind Swiss Digital Health.”

Sebastien was impressed when Paul Riser delved into the MedHealth Cluster initiative featuring 25 cross-border partners in Southeast Michigan and Southwestern Ontario that emerged from the original Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit.

The Cluster is an informal collaborative of health care practitioners, hospitals, research centres, insurance providers and economic development organizations that leverages assets to boost the region’s status as a hub of innovation in the health tech sector.

For example, the MedHealth Cluster is building a commercialization Pathfinder that will guide medical device and digital health innovators on their path toward commercialization.  The Pathfinder provides that kind of road map to support for any health care entrepreneur that walks through the door.

The Cluster is also conducting a regional assessment of the advantages and gaps of the health sciences sector in the region.

Left to right: Irek Kusmierczyk, Paul Riser, Sebastien Mabillard and Zain Ismail at TechTown Detroit

At the same time, the Medhealth Cluster continues to host an annual Medhealth Summit that brings together health care organizations and innovators, building those important bridges between creative people at the intersection of health and tech.

The Swiss Digital Health initiative came about from an earlier initiative called The Ark Foundation – which established a network of tech accelerators and incubators in the canton of Valais to develop tech industries across numerous sectors through a network of connected campuses such a BioArk, TechnoArk, IdeArk and PhytoArk that have their own specialty.

“We are focusing our attention on the intersections of IT with health, energy, smart cities etc.,” says Sebastien.

It was interesting to hear Sebastien discuss a pilot project from Swiss Post – the national mail carrier.  They are deploying drones to send laboratory tests from hospitals to labs and back in the tourist town of Lugano.

Could we see drones one day transporting lab tests and tissue samples between Canadian and American hospitals across the Detroit River?

After the meeting – Sebastien set off to visit Fast Forward Medical Innovation at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor before setting off to Navicent Health in Macon, Georgia.

The global Hacking Health network at work.

Irek Kusmierczyk, PhD is the Director of Partnerships at WEtech Alliance, a Regional Innovation Centre accelerating tech & innovation in Windsor-Essex, co-founder of Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit and member of the cross-border MedHealth Cluster.

Canada’s Cleantech Industry is Having a Back to the Future Moment

By Tyler Hamilton, via The Toronto Star

John Paul Morgan shines a green penlight on a prototype that he created — a solar optic that converts light into electricity. As he does, the beam strikes the device’s acrylic surface, then bends abruptly at a right angle toward the centre, where it elegantly converges on a thumbnail-sized solar cell that produces the power.

It has been nearly a decade since he developed this device, and his technology has improved dramatically since then. Now significantly more affordable, it is also lighter, better designed, and arguably one of the more efficient ways to produce solar electricity on the planet.

Looking back on the source of inspiration for his unique design, Morgan, co-founder and chief technology officer of Toronto-based Morgan Solar, points to the early 2000s when he worked in Ottawa for JDS Uniphase, the optical-networking pioneer that at the time was a giant of Canada’s world-leading telecom scene.


Read more about federal investment in tidal energy turbines

A Fresh Look: Agritech


We hear it all the time – “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” – everyone says we should do it. We know that its what the Earth needs from us to thrive, but is it possible that being environmentally friendly can also be a huge advantage for businesses? Is it possible to use new technology to reduce your Carbon footprint, while also reducing your expenses? To all of this I give a resounding YES!

My name is Dave Froese and I’m the Energy Manager here at NatureFresh™ Farms, an agricultural and greenhouse company located in Leamington, Ontario and Delta, Ohio. I’ve been part of the NatureFresh™ team for over 10 years and since day 1 I’ve been working on projects and finding solutions for the energy challenges we face everyday. Today I’ll try my best to explain all of the ways our greenhouse operation uses technology to manage energy usage and environmental responsibility. We deal with wood combustion, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) reactions, water reclamation/treatment, and electricity management every day to make sure we’re not only growing the best veggies around, but also using our resources in the most efficient way! As you’ll learn, all of these different types of energies interact with each other and its our team’s job to make sure we always have the technology in place to be the leader in our industry!

NatureFresh™ Farms is part of the government ICI program. ICI stands for Industrial Conservation Initiative and its mission is to work with businesses to control their energy usage, and if we do, we get a savings on our energy bill! What we have to do is stay below a specific energy usage rate during the 5 peak periods in the province of Ontario, they call it the High 5. We can save money by using less resources, which means we will need to buy less resources, which also means less costs, it’s a win-win! So how do we do this?

Let’s start with the greenhouse temperature. We have a goal at NatureFresh™ to grow all year round and that can be challenging, especially during the winter months, when the outside temperatures are cold. What we do is create heat that is released inside the greenhouse through pipes, it allows our plants to still grow in their ideal temperature. Re-used water flows through the pipes in a cycle that allows the water to be heated through the burning of materials (we’ll get to that below), the heat is then released into the greenhouse space through each growing row. The water returns to boilers to heat up again and repeat the cycle! Our heating system was designed with resource efficiency in mind as the water is never in contact with any outside material and because of this, we can reuse the water without any contamination. This reduces the demand on the local community’s water supply and we ensure that we’re not returning polluted water back to the area.


We have very specific sensors within each greenhouse to ensure that the temperature remains at the proper level at all times, which also allows us to control our resources efficiently. The heat is created through the burning of wood and the burning of gas. During the cold winter months, we always start with the burning of the wood, this valuable material that we actually save from going to the landfill! You got it, we search across Ontario for large quantities of wood that would normally be headed straight for the trash, and bring it back to our facilities to re-use as an energy source. Each year, over 15,000 tons (about the same weight as 7500 cars) of re-purposed wood is used to heat our greenhouses. The more effectively we can use the wood to heat the greenhouse, the less gas we will need to purchase and burn, helping our costs and carbon footprint!

Our greenhouses have the ability to store the heat energy that we generate by using our integrated boiler system. NatureFresh™ facilities have a cohesive heating unit that allows us to efficiently heat and store the water, which is critical in keeping the greenhouse temperature constant. These systems allow us to store the heat for an extended period of time, which helps us in two ways: first, by having a storage of heat at all times, we can run the boilers at a lower flame, which is better for our gas usage, and second, if there every comes a time where our systems shut down, we have over 12 hours of heat stored to keep things running smoothly, that type of flexibility is so important!


No matter what we burn, we have to consider our CO2 situation: as you may know Carbon Dioxide is a critical ingredient for the survival of plants and it’s our job to make sure that they always have the correct level of CO2 in the greenhouse for them to grow. Carbon Dioxide levels are constantly being recorded to ensure that we remain at the proper level. The greenhouses operate in a unique feedback loop that requires the production of CO2 to heat the space, and then the consumption of that same CO2 by the plants to ensure their health.

One of the best parts of my job is that each day I get the chance to work on new projects that help make our energy usage more efficient. It is an exciting and challenging task, and one that we know that will make a huge impact on our business and the environment. They key for us is to find new techniques and to utilize the most advanced technology to ensure that the transfer from fuel to energy is happening at the highest efficiency possible. As you learned above, not only will these advances create an environmentally sustainable operation, but they will also be affecting our balance sheet and finances. Being responsible with your resources becomes one of the most powerful business advantages that you can have. In the business world today, it is important to focus on the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. Here at NatureFresh™, our drive to continuously develop and compare ourselves to the world leaders is what keeps us motivated: the team has been traveling around the world looking at some the best practices of leading companies and we are excited to take what we have learned and bring it back to NatureFresh™!  Some of these projects are top secret, and we can’t share just yet but stayed tuned for some exciting news coming up!

The world of energy and tech is so large and exciting that I could spend all day writing about it, but I think I’ll leave it at this for now! When you can wake up every morning and know that the work you’re doing can leave a long-lasting impact on the company, and even larger, the world, you feel pretty good! I hope that I have shown today the endless possibilities that exist in our industry.

Thanks for reading!

Dave Froese is the Energy Manager at NatureFresh™ Farms, an agricultural and greenhouse company located in Leamington, Ontario and Delta, Ohio. He is a whiz at #substainability | Youngest of a family of boys | #LetsGoYankees



Learn more about WEtech Alliance’s CleanTech initiatives:

CleanTech Academy  CleanTech Blog

Welcome to the Drone Age

Only a few years ago drones were things from Sci-Fi movies and TV shows or something that we would hear about on the evening news when reports of military events were occurring. Now only a few short years later, drones are working their was into our social fabric in ways that we would never have imagined. Drone racing, drone delivery, drone taxis, drones used in film making and real estate, for exploration, mapping and pollination. Drones are becoming an everyday presence in our society and in our future.

Check out this teaser video for the 2017 Drone Racing League World Championships that recently aired on ESPN to get an idea of how quickly this sport is growing in popularity.


Over the last year the number of certified drone pilots and startup companies have tripled in North America and the FAA projects that drone sales will exceed 5 Billion dollars within the next few years with a further projection that the drone market will create an 82 Billion dollar market by 2025 and account for 100,000 drone related direct jobs.

The future of drones, however bumpy at the moment, will create a dynamic and expanding market. Access to drones is becoming far cheaper and fast moving advances in drone technology and robotics is energizing the drone movement to an unprecedented degree. In addition to the drone technology, advances in A.I and swarm technology are opening even more doors to the drone markets, inspiring a new wave of innovation and advancement.

Swarm Mentality

Swarming is a form of programming that enables drones to work together such as birds and bees. Swarming technology allows hundreds of drones to work together to achieve a single task that a lone drone could never preform on it’s own. Advancements in A.I and swarming technology and will open new doors to an unlimited potential for inspiration and innovation. The implications of these new and combined technologies will create advances in both commercial and industrial applications and offer unique opportunities for those with imagination.

Imagine a world where drones will assist with everyday tasks without having to be controlled by an operator. A.I intelligent drones will preform the assigned tasks quickly and easily allowing the operator to focus on the final outcome of the task. Pollination of crops is one example of the uses of drones and swarm technology. Hundreds if not thousands of micro drones could be programmed to pollinate a field in very little time, offering an expedient answer to a serious current problem.

An Aerial MOB drone lands after filming a scene for “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” at a Santa Clarita ranch. Photo credit: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times

Imagine a movie set where the drones place themselves in the best angles for the shot without wasting time having to be moved or programmed by an operator.  Where multiple drones could move with the actors as they move, creating a perfect flow of vision for the director. Or perhaps a work site where drones are carrying heavy loads of materials to their assigned locations allowing the workmen to build more efficiently, at less cost and with much less chance of physical injury.

Swarm drones would work exceptionally well in area’s where there have been some form of disaster. These drones could easily and safely work together to bring building material, first aid supplies and food and water to areas that are impassable and have been severely impacted by disaster conditions.

These are only a few of the things that the future holds for us. Drones are becoming a part of our society much as the car and the airplane when they were first developed. The future is wide open and some amazing things are headed our way.  More to come.

Photo by

David McCall is the C.E.O of Future Evolutions Inc., a Windsor based technology company with a strong focus on drones and drone technology advancement and development for commercial and industrial use. He is also the Co-Editor of HoverBuzz Magazine, an online magazine dedicated to drone technology and sharing news and information related to drone use for commercial, industrial and recreational purposes as well as keeping it’s readers updated on new laws and regulations regarding the use of drones in Canada. As well David is the owner of, a locally based business with a focus on the promotion of drone racing across the country. Mr. McCall is the director of social media for FPV Canada which is Canada’s largest drone racing league and sits on the board of the Canadian Federation for Drone Racing as an adviser to the Ministry Of Transport. David is currently involved in the development of Dronetainment and Dronemusement, which are new and exciting arenas for drone technology with a focus purely on entertainment value, such as drone lighting displays, drone racing, drone battles, drone parties, drone parks and more. As well as his technical background Mr. McCall also has a background in creating local charity and community events and festivals for local organizations in need.

The Biggest Startup Money Burning Mistake

Matching the marketing message to your most desirable customer segments is an essential element to success for any startup or innovative business. Failing to do so can be very costly. The biggest startup money burning mistake – not defining your customer segments properly!

Mistake – No segmentation!

If you haven’t made any effort to define your desirable customer segments, how are you creating your advertising and marketing programs?  What is the message in your marketing?

Large corporations with large brands and large marketing budgets can do this, but a startup business usually has limited resources and negative cash flow. If your startup already has great, positive cash flow you do not need to read any further!

All others need to consider the following definition of a customer segment:

“A defined group of potential customers who share the same problem or passion and speak the same language.”

Mistake – Defining by demographics alone

Is your most desirable customer segment defined as a male in their 50’s?  Just because a person is male and in his 50’s doesn’t mean they have the same problem and speak the same language. One 53-year-old male might have a problem selecting fashionable shirts for his next vacation where another 53-year-old male wears the same shirt every day but really needs to find parts for his 68 Camaro which he is restoring himself.

The most important and most often missed piece: “share the same problem”

Check out the difference in the following two definitions of a customer segment:

1) Windsor and Essex County business owners between the age of 45 and 65 with annual revenues between $1M and $5M.

2) Windsor and Essex County business owners who are concerned that if their bookkeeper didn’t show up one day, no one else would be able to do the payroll.

The second customer segment is defined based on a common problem. And not just any problem, it should be defined by the problem that your business can solve for this customer segment.

The question to ask yourself is:

What problems do we solve for our customers? What problems are we really good at solving?

How painful is the problem for the customer? Is your product or service a “vitamin” solution or an “aspirin” solution?  Aspirin solutions are the best product or services because customers who have a headache right now will buy an aspirin. Everybody knows they should buy vitamins but without some pain, why bother?

When you start digging into the customer problems and trying to match up the features and benefits of your products and services, you may find it overwhelming because there are too many different problems and too many features and benefits.

With your limited resources and energy to focus, the least costly place to invest is on the top 2 or 3 most painful problems that you are really good at solving. In fact, if you have the ability to solve these particular problems, you should be able to make a cash flow profit.

The key trick is a bit counter intuitive:  define your customer segment as narrowly as possible and keep your product offering as simple as possible. Getting your startup to cash flow positive activities is step one. Once you get there, you can think about expanding product lines or seeking new customer segments, but trying to be all things to all people at the start is a guarantee of failure.

The other part of the definition of customer segment is “speaks the same language”.

Why is this important? It’s because successful marketing communications speak in the language of the customer.

You might believe that there is a lot of mysterious hocus-pocus that marketing firms use to develop a marketing message – there isn’t.  If you simply go and listen to the customers in your customer segment and capture in their language of how your product solves their problems, they will give you the message to share with the rest of the defined group. If this defined group speaks the same language, they will understand your marketing communications so much better!

Here is an example from a basement repair customer segment.

We defined the customer segment as married homeowners with wet basements that don’t like the musty smell. In this segment, we identified that one spouse was in charge of fixing the basement problem. After listening extensively to this customer segment, we found the perfect language for the marketing:

“Want to get your spouse off your back about fixing that smelly basement? We can help!”

In summary, the key to startup success is to narrow your customer segment (defined by a common problem or pain point). When you can communicate to them in their own language that you can solve their problem, they will ask you to solve it. Deliver the value by solving it and make some money!

P.S. If you happen to be one of those business owners concerned about your bookkeeping practices, let me know because I am working on a solution to that problem!

Paul Foster is the Founder & CEO of The Business Therapist. Paul’s life’s purpose is to bring more cash, freedom and happiness to independent business owners. Paul wants to learn about your toughest business challenges and frustrations so he can help you overcome them.

Colossal Solar Farm Could Power Europe

The colossal African solar farm that has been built in Morocco.

“Europe is making great progress in renewable technology! The creation of a colossal solar farm in the sunny reaches of Morocco shows the huge investment in CleanTech around the world. This massive solar farm has the potential, when fully scaled up, to provide all of Europe’s energy needs. With the sun shining 340 days a year, Morocco has great promise in sustainably powering the future of the continent!”

Marcus Deans, CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Alliance Intern

Via BBC – July 14, 2017

The minibus crosses the vast plateau on a newly paved road. Cracked fields stretch away towards the Moroccan desert to the south. Yet the barren landscape is no longer quite as desolate as it once was. This year it became home to one of the world’s biggest solar power plants.

Hundreds of curved mirrors, each as big as a bus, are ranked in rows covering 1,400,000 sq m (15m sq ft) of desert, an area the size of 200 football fields. The massive complex sits on a sun-blasted site at the foot of the High Atlas mountains, 10km (6 miles) from Ouarzazate – a city nicknamed the door to the desert. With around 330 days of sunshine a year, it’s an ideal location.

As well as meeting domestic needs, Morocco hopes one day to export solar energy to Europe. This is a plant that could help define Africa’s – and the world’s – energy future.

Read more about the colossal African solar farm!

UPS Canada Improving Fleet Sustainability

An example of UPS's hybrid delivery vehicles!

UPS Canada is taking further steps towards sustainability by using clean technology and alternative fuels in its fleet, with an aim to have 50% of its vehicles running on alternative fuels by 2018. This shows Canadian companies’ commitment to employing CleanTech to reduce emissions and improve sustainability!

Marcus Deans, CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Alliance Intern

Via Canadian Manufacturing – July 14, 2017

UPS announced new sustainability goals on June 27.

The company plans to add more alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles to its fleet while increasing its reliance on renewable energy sources.

The company says the goals support its commitment to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from global ground operations 12 per cent by 2025.

“Because of our size and scale, we know our commitments can shape markets, advance technologies and be a catalyst for infrastructure investments,” said David Abney, UPS chairman and CEO.

Read more about UPS Canada's sustainability initiatives

CleanTech Refinery Coming to Southwestern Ontario

An example refinery similar to that that could be set up in Southwestern Ontario

Southwestern Ontario’s attractiveness as a hub for clean technology is shown by the planning for a new biorefinery in Sarnia. S2G BioChem plans to construct a $20 million refinery to employ clean technology to produce xylitol, an alternative sweetener, more effectively! 

Marcus Deans, CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Alliance Intern

Via Canadian Manufacturing – July 12, 2017

Another biotechnology company is setting up shop in southwestern Ontario.

West Coast-based S2G BioChem revealed plans June 20 to build a new biorefinery in Sarnia, Ont., adding another name to the city’s roster of biochemical and biofuel firms, which already includes, BioAmber Inc., Biox Corp. and Comet Biorefining Inc., among others.

The commercial-scale facility is expected to cost about $20 million and will produce low-cost xylitol from forestry and agriculture residues.

Mark Kirby, S2G BioChem’s president and CEO, said the demonstration plant will help the cleantech firm set the stage for future growth while providing feedstock suppliers in and around Sarnia with a new revenue stream.

Read more about federal investment in tidal energy turbines

CleanTech Academy: Day 6 – Envirodrone

The Deans List - A Blog by CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Intern Marcus Deans who heard from Envirodrone

Monday, July 10th – Envirodrone

Ryan Cant

Today we had the opportunity to hear from Ryan Cant, the founder of one of Windsor’s most innovative companies – Envirodrone. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from Trent University, Ryan worked for two years in private industry. He talked about how this real-life experience helped him in his future by demonstrating to him the policies companies used and the way operations were conducted. He then moved back to Windsor and gained an interest in UAVs, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Ryan Cant of Envirodrone presenting to the students of CleanTech academy.

Introduction to Envirodrone

Ryan eventually founded his own company, Envirodrone, which uses drones commercially to benefit a variety of industries. We had the chance to see one of his drones in front of him while he told us about the different aspects of his company and how he has developed it over the past two years. The company is currently working towards full release of its services, since they have had to do a lot of testing to determine the best way to operate the drones and its different capabilities.


Ryan told us a lot about the technology used in the drones; there are two main categories of drones – fixed wing and rotary. The rotary design is what most people think of when they hear the word drone, apart from a military design. The rotary drones have multiple rotors that turn like a helicopter. Envirodrone employs the fixed wing drones primarily, which look a lot more like a normal aircraft. The fixed wing drones have a longer flight endurance, so they can collect more data without having to recharge, and also can carry a heavier payload of equipment for surveying.

A close-up view of the equipment used by Envirodrone


Envirodrone is planning to use the drones mostly for agricultural surveys, since it is a major industry in our region. Farmers would be able to visualize their fields from above with high-quality and inexpensive data that would be provided by overhead drones. Ryan also told us about the six major fields which drones are being targeted towards: agriculture, aggregate (quarries and mining of rocks), construction, mining, energy (oil & gas), and geological. Drones are very useful and offer different capabilities compared to regular aircraft since they can move more slowly to collect more high-quality data, as well as flying safely at a lower level so that they can capture all of the fine details. Finally, and very importantly for the business, drones are significantly cheaper than aircraft since they do not require a pilot or aviation fuel.Ryan was a superb example to us about how far you can come in today’s world if you work hard for something you are interested in. He also conducts research at the University of Windsor, which is a great example of how private start-ups can coordinate with researchers to further technologies and achieve common aims. They are hoping to develop advanced sensors that will be superior to the currently available off the shelf systems. He was very knowledgeable about everything he talked about and we could all tell that he is truly passionate about drones. We had a great time listening to Ryan speak about Envirodrone and how it came to be!


Ryan was a superb example to us about how far you can come in today’s world if you work hard for something you are interested in. He also conducts research at the University of Windsor, which is a great example of how private start-ups can coordinate with researchers to further technologies and achieve common aims. They are hoping to develop advanced sensors that will be superior to the currently available off the shelf systems. He was very knowledgeable about everything he talked about and we could all tell that he is truly passionate about drones. We had a great time listening to Ryan speak about Envirodrone and how it came to be!


Find out what else made the Deans List in Marcus’ daily CleanTech Academy recaps:

DAY 1  DAY 2  DAY 3   DAY 4   DAY 5   DAY 6

Marcus Deans currently attends Académie Ste Cécile International School in Windsor and is looking forward to learning more about the technology and business world as part of WEtech Alliance. Outside of school, Marcus volunteers with the Canadian Cancer Society, the WindsorEssex Community Foundation, and the City of Windsor. He has also served in several leadership positions at youth-run companies as part of Junior Achievement. Marcus also enjoys science and has ranked internationally in youth science competitions as part of Team Canada.

He’ll be with us throughout the summer and will be reporting on his experience in our inaugural CleanTech Academy class through his CleanTech Blog posts.


GO Train Network Electrification

Ontario’s government is aiming to electrify Toronto’s GO train network using hydrogen fuel cell technology, demonstrating the government’s commitment to clean technology and desire to reduce emissions! Assessments are being conducted with the aim of using the technology for express rail by 2025.

Marcus Deans, CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Alliance Intern

Via Canadian Manufacturing – July 9, 2017GO train electrification could have broad implications for our province

The Ontario government is looking into using hydrogen-powered trains to replace the diesel locomotives that currently ferry commuters across the Greater Toronto Area.

The province’s Transportation Minister, Steven Del Duca, was at GO Transit’s Willowbrook yard in Etobicoke June 15 to kick off the environmental assessment process for the major infrastructure project.

“Electrification is an important step forward for regional rail in Ontario,” Del Duca said. “It is critical that we get it right.”

The push to electrify the Toronto area rail system is part of a $21.3 billion project Queen’s Park says will convert the commuter-focused GO Transit network into a regional rapid transit system. Trains will run more frequently both in and out of Toronto—and they’re expected to do so on electrical power as the province pares down on greenhouse gas emissions and noxious diesel fumes damaging to human health.

Read more about federal investment in tidal energy turbines