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The program will run a three-day training camp, provide mentorship, and introduce enrolled startups to investors and similar companies. The accelerator is being set up with Patricof Co, a private investment firm for professional athletes, and will be open to current and former players. (Bloomberg)

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Talking point: Several of the game’s best-known stars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry—who backed Toronto’s SnapTravel in December 2018—have built tech investment portfolios. But deal flow can be difficult for even slightly lesser-known players. “That billionaire’s boys club is real,” Andre Iguodala said in an October 2018 interview. The star sixth man struggled to get companies to accept his investments, until his then-Golden State Warriors won a championship in 2015; his deals include Zoom Video, which went public in April 2019, and Casper, which filed for an IPO on Friday. That early resistance came despite the San Francisco-based Warriors’ technology links—majority owner Joe Lacob and several other shareholders are prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalists or executives. The NBPA’s accelerator could help bridge some of those access gaps.

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The Alexa Voice Tech Accelerator opened to applications from software, hardware and service firms working on voice-powered tech. The centre will select five companies making technology that has the potential to integrate with Alexa, or does so already. The program will begin on December 2 and run for six to 12 months. (The Logic)

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Talking point: This is the first Canadian accelerator to partner with Amazon on voice technology, after a similar program in Seattle launched earlier this year. The programs give Amazon integrated access to early-stage startups, part of its effort to increase its dominance in the voicetech market—expected to reach US$31 billion by 2025—in which Facebook, Google and Apple have also made major investments. Amazon held 64.6 per cent of the smart-speaker market as of September 2018, and is the only tech giant currently running accelerator programs focused on the technology. It also runs a US$200-million Alexa Fund—partnered with the Accelerator Centre for this program—which uses “Alexa fit” as a metric for selecting companies in which to invest.

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The Safe x Connected Cities Accelerator will run for six months; it will provide startups with coaching and support to test and commercialize products. Highline Beta, a venture capital firm and startup co-creator, will provide programming and potential investments; Aviva, an insurance company, will help the firms enter commercial agreements. (The Logic)

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Talking point: This is Highline Beta’s second corporate accelerator in social responsibility; the first is Accelerator 100+, which is for startups in environmental sustainability. Aviva Canada’s involvement is through its Take Back Our Roads initiative. The $5-million campaign was kicked off through branded crosswalk flags placed in dangerous intersections in Toronto; city officials made the firm remove them, as they were installed without permission. The new accelerator will rely on technological innovations to improve road safety. Aviva’s advantage in the space is the amount of data it’s collected: the company received $1.4 billion in annual car-accident claims in 2018. Road injuries remain the leading cause of death for children and youth aged 19 and under in Canada; serious injuries are also underreported in several jurisdictions in the country.

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The new hub will give office space to small companies looking to collaborate and discuss the challenges of selling to government health systems. Intellijoint makes cameras and sensors for measurement and observation during surgery. (The Record)

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Talking point: Intellijoint is familiar with medical technology accelerators, having been a client of Canada’s largest one: MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. The MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund also invested in the firm. Kitchener-Waterloo’s medical technology subsector is a growing rival to Toronto’s, and global giants are moving in In April, my colleague Jessica reported on lab equipment maker PerkinElmer providing $2 million for testing devices at a new lab at the University of Waterloo’s Velocity Garage incubator. Local tech leaders like Murray Gamble, an investor and mentor, have called for an accelerator to allow small firms to learn how to navigate government procurement from each other. Those are hurdles Intellijoint itself has faced, and overcome—the company had $10 million in revenue in 2018. Its CEO, Armen Bakirtzian, is also a member of the Health/Bio-sciences Economic Strategy Table, which advises Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, allowing him to raise the concerns of the region’s medical technology startups that arise at the accelerator to the government.

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The municipality and 360insights, a local marketing software company, are funding 1855 Whitby. The 9,000-square-foot facility is the first accelerator in the Durham region, according to the town, which said there are more than a dozen tech and innovation companies in its “innovation district.” (BetaKit)

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Talking point: Toronto’s technology sector is booming, but the gains have been concentrated downtown. Whitby and neighbouring Oshawa actually lost software jobs between 2006 and 2016, according to a December 2018 report from the Neptis Foundation. There’s only room for so many tech hubs in the Greater Toronto Area, and Whitby isn’t the only region looking to the sector to boost the local economy. Durham has less of a concentration of tech companies than some neighbouring municipalities. Markham, which has its own accelerator, is home to the Canadian headquarters of the likes of AMD, Lenovo and Toshiba, and is positioning itself as a smart cities testbed via a pilot with Bell and IBM.

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Companies in the accelerator will be able to use Telus and Blackberry technology to build Internet of Things (IoT) products. This is BlackBerry’s second accelerator with Ottawa-based L-Spark. (BetaKit)

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Talking point: With the global IoT market expected to hit US$1.4 billion by 2021, according to the International Data Corporation, it makes sense for corporations like BlackBerry and Telus to invest in a hub where they can preview emerging technologies from the next generation of companies. It’s akin to corporations using venture capital investment in startups to work better with them or eventually acquire the technology; PwC Canada and CB Insights’ past four reports on Canadian VC activity show corporate VC participation increased every quarter in 2018 as they sought to work more with startups.

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The co-working space company is committing US$1 million in equity investments to the first cohort of companies, who will spend half a year in at the program. This is WeWork’s first formal accelerator program. (TechCrunch)

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Talking point: WeWork has more than 400,000 members, many of them startup founders. That gives the firm valuable insight into the emerging innovation landscape across global markets—and it sees potential in food tech. There’s lots of excitement around innovative food products, like Impossible Foods—which has raised close to US$400 million from investors like Bill Gates—as well as tech- and cloud-based solutions to improve farming productivity and lower emissions. As food insecurity and climate change become ever more pressing issues, the solutions to those problems present big opportunities for founders and investors.

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The inaugural fund of the Atlantic Women’s Venture Fund has raised less than $10 million overall and is still fundraising. Its management team and all its investors—18 so far—are women executives. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Danielle Graham, currently a principal at Dream Maker Ventures, is joining the fund as its investment principal. She’s played a key role in major initiatives promoting women in technology in recent years. At Dream Maker, she founded the fund’s diversity program initiative. She also launched Fierce Founders, Canada’s first woman-focused accelerator. Cathy Bennett, former Newfoundland and Labrador finance minister, is joining the fund as a general partner along with Sarah Young, managing partner at National Public Relations and Rhiannon Davies, former EVP of GrandVision N.V. This is the latest movement in Canada’s growing venture capital sector focused on women entrepreneurs. In March, Standup Ventures closed a $21-million women-focused fund. And earlier this month, Ottawa committed $15 million in fresh capital for women entrepreneurs struggling due to COVID-19 and a new angel network, called Canada51, launched to facilitate investments in women-led companies.