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Where Ideas Collide
Illustration by Jeannie Phan

Where Ideas Collide

Take a peek inside the new Smartpark Innovation Hub on the Fort Garry campus, designed to bring people and ideas together to grow Manitoba’s start-up community.

A waffle iron operated by Barbara Bowerman, the wife of an Oregon track coach, inspired the grid pattern on the sole of the running shoe that helped launch Nike. Add to that, designer Carolyn Davidson’s idea to create a logo that showed motion—a swoosh.

With creative collisions like these, one person’s spark becomes something so much bigger. At the core of the new, four-storey Smartpark Innovation Hub on the Fort Garry campus is a designated Collision Corridor for tenants to meet, brainstorm, swap expertise and ultimately grow the Manitoba start-up community. The 75,000-square-foot building opened its doors in spring, and with UM researchers, entrepreneurs, developers and students milling about, you never know what they’ll dream up next. Here’s a look at some Hub tenants and the products they’re connected to:


North Forge Technology Exchange call themselves an innovation-based economic development agency. With more than 7,500 prototypes to date, they work with entrepreneurs through their comprehensive start-up program and fabrication lab.


Rova: a self-operating, solar-powered chicken coop controlled via mobile app— named after the Mars rover

Funding Change: an app to take raffles online to fundraise for teams, schools or any non-profit so no more paper tickets or door-knockin

Pricerazzi: an app that tells you if the purchase you just made—big or small—has gone on sale and then helps you redeem your money

Umbrela: a smart home and security system that you install in lieu of conventional light switches. And unlike other systems, it uses a local area network to keep data secure and off the cloud.

EvoTrux: an online freightmatching platform that connects carriers and shippers

Ameego: a point-of-sale-integrated software for restaurants that makes it easy for staff to access shift changes and scheduling

Go Oil Canada: a mobile oil change service open 24-7 that comes to you whenever, wherever


The UM Technology Transfer Office helps move technologies from the lab to the marketplace, and facilitates collaborations to address industry challenges.


GrainViz by 151 Research: internal sensors that generate detailed 3-D moisture mapping images of bushels within a grain bin, providing producers with real-time data and remote fan and dryer control to prevent spoilage—it’s the first invention of its kind in the agricultural industr

NuPET by Cubresa: a compact scanner that allows scientists to do PET and MRI imaging on research animals simultaneously rather than using two separate machines, leading to better data

NuThrax by Emergent BioSolutions: a next-generation anthrax vaccine that requires fewer doses and elicits a faster immune response


Cibus is a leader in advanced plant-breeding technologies.


Rapid Trait Development System: a suite of gene-editing technologies to develop traits in plants for farmers who want crops that aren’t considered GMOs. Tweaks to DNA help improve yield, reduce herbicide use and improve disease resistance— without inserting genes from other species.


Bold Commerce empowers entrepreneurs to succeed with eCommerce apps that do everything from motivating sales to growing influencer networks. With over 80,000 merchants around the world—including Shopify, the LA Lakers and Cirque du Soleil—this start-up grew from four co-founders working in a basement to a team of almost 300.


Pembina Trails Early College Program. Starting in Grade 9, students can take their regular high school courses at the Innovation Hub, while getting a frontrow seat to the growing IT industry.


Backswath Management Inc. provides farms and agribusiness with management consulting services and resources; they are the parent company to Eagle Management Software, a cloud-based tool.


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