Linkitz Wins $100,000 at 2014 N100 Startup Competition

To read more about Spark Centre’s involvement in the N100 Competition, CLICK HERE



The time has come for the maker movement. The time has come for the re-shoring of manufacturing in North America. The time has come for a shift in venture capital investment to hardware. And the time has come to close the technology gender gap. At the intersection of these multiple transformations is the winner of the 2014 N100 Startup Competition: Linkitz.

“Wearables are the new black, and kids want their own. Linkitz makes smart and modular wearable toys that blink and buzz and will help kids learn programming too,” explains Andrew Macrae, CTO of Linkitz.

“Girls are big on accessories and Linkitz will give them a chance to get programming chops as they make toys their own,” says Lyssa Neel, CEO of Linkitz and a MIT PhD who co-founded two other companies. “Making technology playful at an early age can go a long way,” she adds.

By winning N100, Co-Founders Neel and Macrae have secured a $100,000 early-stage investment from Northumberland CFDC to finalize, test and market their product. “Linkitz is already working with the prototyping and engineering team at a local Cobourg manufacturer,” said George Harvey, Chairman of the business development corporation that runs N100. “They will be establishing their headquarters and operations here in Northumberland where they will be able to leverage local innovation infrastructure and value-added partnerships.”

“A social toy and fashion item can motivate kids to learn more about technology. Building this type of confidence can help kids get comfortable with technology and grow from mere consumers to active creators,” Neel said.

“Through innovation, Lyssa Neel is creating a pathway of possibilities for a generation of young women,” said Wendy Curtis, Executive Director of Northumberland CFDC. “And we are putting the spotlight on an impressive entrepreneur who is helping to close the gender gap for women in tech.”

“Having the support of investors who share our vision will help us put Linkitz into kids’ hands much faster,” says Linkitz CEO Lyssa Neel.

This year, Linkitz won out over forty-one other startups from Canada, the USA and around the world. The next call for applications for the annual N100 Startup Competition will go out again in January, 2015 with a registration deadline in March.

About Linkitz

Linkitz is a wearable electronic toy that allows kids to have fun while easily learning to program. A Canadian hardware startup led by Co-Founder and CEO Lyssa Neel, Linkitz is the winner of the 2014 N100 Startup Competition and was recently accepted into the 2014 HAXLR8R Fall cohort. Follow Linkitz on Twitter @Link_itz.

About the N100 Startup Competition

N100 is an annual startup competition led by Northumberland CFDC in partnership with Spark Centre and a high-level Power Panel including David Pamenter, Business Law Partner atGowling Lafleur Henderson LLP and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). Startups compete for $100,000 in early-stage investment capital through a series of three Rounds: the Pitch, Business Planning and Negotiation. The winner of the inaugural year of the competition in 2013 was Unified Computer Intelligence Corporation (UCIC) who went on from their win to launch an expansive beta program for their ubiquitous computing device (dubbed the “Ubi”) and to secure a $635,000 angel round led by Maple Leaf Angels.

Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation (Northumberland CFDC) is a business development corporation dedicated to providing financing and strategy for entrepreneurs. A member of the Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA) Northumberland CFDC receives core operational funding from FedDev Ontario.

Spark Centre is one of fourteen not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) that form part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). The RIC works to improve competitiveness and visibility of Northumberland and Durham as a world-class innovation cluster.


John Hayden – Manager, Enterprise Programs
Northumberland CFDC
600 William St. Suite 600
Cobourg, Ontario, Canada
K9A 3A5
Ph: 905-372-8315 x224


Entrepreneurship and Innovation is thriving in Durham Region

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Recently, Spark Centre was a part of three momentous events celebrating entrepreneurship and innovation in Durham Region and Northumberland County.

We were very proud and honoured to be the Premium sponsor for Metroland’s Breakfast Seminar with Arlene Dickinson. The event took place at Landmark Cinema in Whitby on June 11th and featured Arlene speaking about her journey to success. She shared some very personal stories about how she became an entrepreneur, author and Dragon’s Den star. Local Durham Region entrepreneurs and success stories, Jason Atkins from 360 Incentives and Jodi Glover from Real Tech Inc. were also on hand to speak on their experiences and offered their advice during a Q&A session. Dennis Croft, Executive Director of Spark Centre was the MC of the event and spoke about the impact the morning had on the sold-out crowd; “Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart and we were treated to how to accept and conquer adversity.  Arlene, Jason and Jodie inspired us to reach beyond our paradigms. I was humbled to be master of ceremonies in such company.”

The second June event took place in Oshawa at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT).  The Innovation Conference titled “Rethinking Management 2020” empowered its attendees to keep up with changing technologies in the workforce and encouraged all to seize new opportunities to advance their business and reinvent their management style. Dennis Croft was also the MC at the event, joining an impressive group of speakers and industry experts. “It was an honour to be the Master of Ceremonies for UOIT Innovation Day.” Dennis says “UOIT’s drive to foster innovation in Durham Region shone bright on June 24th.  We saw the best and brightest of management gather and discuss the future of innovation. Just awesome!”  

 Spark Centre was once again very eager to partner with Northumberland CFDC for their N100 Startup Competition. Startups who apply for N100 compete for $100,000 in investment to support key milestones in the development of their company. Spark Centre ran a Pitch School for the Top 10 businesses which consisted of a one day boot camp followed by one on one sessions with entrepreneurs to finalize their pitches for the N100 Pitch Night. Once the N100 Power Panel chose their Top 3 finalists, we held a Mock Boardroom Investment Presentation. The finalists were able to execute a 15 minute boardroom presentation followed by a 15 minute Q&A with experts, entrepreneurs and investors from Spark Centre’s network. Braden Kemp, Manager, Business Acceleration Services at Spark Centre says, “It was fantastic to be a part of the N100 competition again this year, and to work with such a talented and innovative group of entrepreneurs. N100 is a great example of the incredible technology ecosystem that is growing right here in our own backyard and we can’t wait to see who comes out on top later this summer.”

What an exciting time for Durham Region and Northumberland County! Spark Centre is continuously proud of the work being done to create a thriving entrepreneurial community. We will always continue to strive to build on a community that embraces innovation and technology.