Small businesses invited to tap local expertise to develop robotic and automation products

Spark Centre, UOIT and Durham College unveil exciting new program  to support business competitiveness

Engineering Open House

Spark Centre, in partnership with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and Durham College (DC), have launched a new program aimed at helping small and medium businesses develop products focused on robotics and automation.

With funding from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), this initiative will offer a variety of services to support potential projects, including assistance with:

  • development of a business/marketing plan
  • modification of control software
  • prototype design/development

The funding can also be used to support access to facilities on the shared DC-UOIT Oshawa campus such as the UOIT ACE Climatic Wind Tunnel and the DC Integrated Manufacturing Centre (IMC).

To qualify for the program, companies must be incorporated and have less than 15 employees. Applications will be assessed based on suitability for the program and each organization’s capacity to complete its project. The deadline for applications is Tuesday, September 6. All projects must be completed by Wednesday, March 15, 2017.


“Spark Centre is excited to see an overdue gap being addressed, specifically small and medium businesses having access to low-cost rapid prototyping services and facilities here in Durham Region.”

Dennis Croft, President and CEO, Spark Innovation Centre

“The demand for automated technologies and systems is growing rapidly as the economies of developed countries become increasingly dependent on them. Through this partnership, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology is pleased to offer its research and entrepreneurship expertise to help local small and medium businesses meet this need by bringing innovative robotics and automation products to market faster.

Michael Owen, PhD, Vice-President Research, Innovation and International, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

“This program is a natural extension of Durham College’s leadership and innovation in robotics, automation, applied research and entrepreneurship. With the funding from NRC-IRAP and our partnership with UOIT and Spark Centre, the college will be able to further leverage the expertise of our faculty and students, as well as our state-of-the-art facilities such as the IMC, to address the critical need for technical and business services for small and medium-sized businesses in the automation and robotics space.”

Debbie McKee Demczyk, Dean, Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Durham College

Ignite Is Back!

We’re very pleased to announce that applications are now open for our fourth annual Ignite Competition.

Two start-up companies will be awarded $25,000 to use towards their business.  Along with the monetary prize, the two winners will be given free office space in The Loft and will also join Spark Centre’s Thrive Accelerator Program which offers significant advisory and business support services to achieve a faster market entry.

Spark Centre continues its strategic focus on youth entrepreneurship and accordingly, Ignite will once again include the Student Entrepreneur category for a second year, giving away $5,000 to a post-secondary entrepreneur.

The 2015 Ignite winners, IFTech and Sound Options Tinnitus Treatments have gone on to do extraordinary things with the help that they received after winning Ignite.

“Ignite was a great experience for us throughout the competition. Not only did we develop great contacts and start mentoring relationships that have helped drive our sales,” says Michael Chrostowski, PhD, President and CEO of Sound Options Tinnitus Treatments. “Winning Ignite also allowed us to create the momentum towards our entry into the US market.”

“Ignite is more than just winning a contest, it gets companies ready to meet the demands of financing. All companies need money to run and Ignite helps with that,” says IFTech Co-Founder Micheal Stanfield. “Working with Spark Centre throughout the competition helped us with our confidence and they continue to help us handle the constant ups and downs of business.”

Applications for the Young and General Entrepreneur categories must be received by 5:00pm on September 9th. Student Entrepreneur applications will be extended until 5:00pm on September 16th.

Please visit for more information on the application process, eligibility criteria, and important dates.