North Inc. of Kitchener, Ontario, is making innovative wearable technology a reality with their new line of smart glasses called Focals. The company has combined design, artificial intelligence, and data machine learning to create custom glasses with smart capabilities. The glasses connect to an individual’s phone via Bluetooth and provides an intuitive way to check notifications, see the weather, connect with Amazon’s Alexa, etc.
To support North’s continued R&D efforts, the company has received $24,000,000 in Canadian government funding from the Strategic Innovation Fund.
The Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) offers Canadian industrial and technology-based businesses with financial support to fuel company expansion and R&D of processes, products, and services, and facilitates the growth of innovative firms. SIF Funding is allowing North to hire an additional 185 employees, expand their manufacturing plant in Waterloo, and increase research and development efforts.
Strategic Innovation Fund Invests $24M into Smart Glasses
North, which recently re-branded from Thalmic Labs, has launched their innovative wearable technology product called Focals. Focals are fashionable, custom-made eyeglasses incorporated with smart technology. The company’s design, product, software, research and development, and IT teams are based in downtown Kitchener and they manufacture the hardware in Waterloo, Ontario. The glasses are sold at showrooms located in Brooklyn, New York, and Toronto, Ontario, where they are custom measured, fitted, and built for each individual.
Focals are equipped with cutting-edge technology such as a speaker, microphone, and a projector in the frames. Images are projected by a beam onto a holographic film in one lens and bounce back to the retina. The projection technology is integrated in a subtle, minimalistic way to avoid making the wearer stand out.
The Strategic Innovation Fund has invested $24M to help North advance their research and development initiatives and next generation product development.
North currently employs over 400 individuals, and funding will create an additional 185 jobs. The company will also be expanding their manufacturing facility in Kitchener-Waterloo, contributing to southwestern Ontario’s innovation ecosystem.
Strategic Innovation Fund: Research and Development Funding
The Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) is a Canadian government funding program uniquely targeted at Canada’s industrial and technology sectors. SIF focuses on accelerating innovative business expansion projects which generate benefits for the company and help secure competitiveness in both regional and national economies.
There are four streams of SIF funding. These include:
- Research, development, and commercialization;
- Business growth and expansion;
- Collaborative technology development and demonstration; and
- Investment attraction and retention.
The Strategic Innovation Fund provides up to 50% of eligible project costs with a minimum funding request of $10 million in support.
The program supports projects related to research and development, new market access, office hardware and software, facility modifications, equipment, materials, labour, training, travel, and legal and accounting fees.
Canadian businesses interested in learning about additional government funding programs within the innovation and technology landscape, please register for Mentor Works’ Weekly Funding Snapshot Newsletter.