Government of Canada supports high-growth technology manufacturing in Kitchener–Waterloo

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Government of Canada supports high-growth technology manufacturing in Kitchener–Waterloo

News release

Investment will help secure 629 jobs and support the development of innovative smart glasses technologies

November 13, 2018 – Kitchener–Waterloo, Ontario

New technologies are changing how Canadians access information, shop, live and work. To seize these opportunities, the Government of Canada is investing in one of Canada’s fastest scaling innovative technology companies. This will help create good middle-class jobs and ensure Canada punches above its weight in a competitive global market.

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced a $24-million investment in North, a pioneering Canadian company that is poised to become a global leader in the growing wearable technology market.

With this project, North plans to expand its existing facility and implement advanced testing, assembly and production systems. The investment will also support the company’s next-generation product development, which combines cutting-edge technology and artificial intelligence within a traditional eyewear frame.

This project will help North to continue developing relationships with Canadian companies and universities to generate further innovation, strengthen the local supply chain and grow partnerships across Canada.

This investment is being made through the $1.26-billion Strategic Innovation Fund, a program designed to attract and support high-quality business investments across all sectors of the economy by encouraging R&D that will accelerate technology transfer and the commercialization of innovative products, processes and services and will facilitate the growth of innovative firms.

“North is the kind of fast-scaling technology company that’s only beginning to deliver value for Canadians by pioneering in the field of wearable technology and developing and retaining intellectual property in Canada. Our government’s investment in North will help create hundreds of good middle-class jobs, contribute to economic growth and position Canada as a world leader in a growing global market.”

– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“In order to create Focals, a product that leapfrogged efforts of our large global competitors, we had to make decisions that were atypical of a company of our size. That included heavy investment in R&D, advanced manufacturing and more right here in Kitchener–Waterloo. The support the Government of Canada is providing to this area through programs like the Strategic Innovation Fund helps us deepen that commitment.”

– Stephen Lake, Co-founder and CEO, North

Quick facts

  • On October 23, North (formerly Thalmic Labs Inc.) rebranded and introduced Focals, a pair of custom-built glasses with a holographic display that only the wearer can see. Focals let you see and respond to texts, get turn-by-turn directions, check the weather, request an Uber, talk to Amazon Alexa and more. The company currently employs approximately 450 people in Kitchener–Waterloo and has a satellite office of 10 people in San Francisco.

  • Focals are designed and built in North’s 56,000 square foot advanced manufacturing facility in Waterloo and sold in North showrooms in Canada and the United States.

  • The funding will help support North’s $130-million project. The company will also invest $500 million in R&D, develop and retain further intellectual property in Canada, and implement inclusive hiring practices.

  • In addition to the Strategic Innovation Fund, there are hundreds of programs and services to help businesses innovate, create jobs and grow Canada’s economy. With a simple, story-based user interface, the Innovation Canada platform can match businesses with the most fitting programs and services in about two minutes.

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