DMZ startups and alumni raised $24.5 million in seed funding and 48 new startups joined

Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University. Photo by Mark Blinch

Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University. Photo by Mark Blinch

TORONTO, January 13, 2014 – The Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University (DMZ) celebrated its best year yet with 48 startups joining in 2013. As significantly, DMZ startups and alumni companies attracted $24.5 million in seed funding from a variety of sources including DMZ Investments, a seed-stage fund established by Ryerson University for-profit entity Ryerson Futures.

The new companies bring to 123 the number of startups that have joined the DMZ since its launch in 2010, creating and fostering more than 900 jobs. Seventy percent of those companies are still flourishing or have been successfully acquired—results higher than average for startups.

 “We’re very proud of our achievements to date,” said DMZ Executive Director Valerie Fox. “There’s no one factor that accounts for our startups’ success, but rather a mix of advantages that help companies thrive. These include the best advisors, hosting hundreds of industry and government tours per year, and a strong culture of openness and collaboration among entrepreneurs.”

Several DMZ-based companies saw significant growth and investment in 2013:

Medical engineering research and development corporation Bionik Laboratories hired new staff to bring its complement to over 20. Ryerson University and Bionik Laboratories are also partnering to develop new technologies with the support of Mitacs Inc.’s Accelerate program.

Online video interview screening platform Kira Talent raised $2 million from prominent venture capitalists and angel investors led by Relay Ventures. The company has also expanded from two to sixteen employees in the past year. Today, Kira talent serves hundreds of clients and is being used in over 80 countries around the world.

Greengage Mobile, makers of a mobile platform that enables and rewards positive environmental, wellness, and community behaviours, also recently announced a $1 million funding round from the Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF), the RBC Generator Fund, and investors from Waterloo-based Golden Triangle AngelNet (GTAN).

Komodo OpenLab, developers of inclusive technologies for those with disabilities, raised several hundred thousand dollars in 2013. Funding came from a variety of sources including the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario Science and Engineers in Business Initiative Fellowship and the Ontario Centres of Excellence Experiential Learning Program.

Innovation management tool SoapBox hired five new full-time employees in 2013 and added a number of new clients, including Accenture, Cisco, Coca-Cola, GlaxoSmithKline and more, to its already impressive roster.

DMZ alumnus company 500px was among Canadian startups that saw impressive growth in 2013. The premier photo-sharing community closed an $8.8 million Series A funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz and Harrison Metal. The company also hired 30 staff this year, launched a partnership with Bing and achieved the one-to-five million download category in the Google Play store. Another DMZ alumnus company, mobile medical image library Figure 1 announced in December $2 million in seed funding from a variety of sources, including DMZ Investments, a seed-stage fund established by Ryerson Futures.

“The calibre of ideas and talent coming out of the Digital Media Zone is very impressive,” said Alex Baker, Partner at Relay Ventures. Relay Ventures is an early stage venture capital firm focused on mobile computing and an investor in DMZ Investments. “The DMZ is helping more and more companies achieve a level where they can compete on a global scale and attract high level investment. When home-grown companies can draw international attention, customers and funding, everyone wins.”

In 2014, the DMZ will focus its priorities on more exponential learning, growth and success for itself and its companies.  “In 2014 we hope to explore more corporate partnerships and relationships with other incubators, more international outreach and collaborating with new Ryerson zones being cultivated in specific areas such as fashion, design fabrication, food and social innovation,” explained Fox. “All together this means a richer, more developed entrepreneurial ecosystem that will help create greater economic and social impact for Toronto, Ontario and Canada. This year is going to be a very good year.”

The Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University is one of Canada’s largest incubators and multidisciplinary co-working spaces for young entrepreneurs. Infused with the energy and resources of downtown Toronto, this hub of innovation, collaboration and commercialization is home to both startups and industry solution-providers. The DMZ leads the way in experiential learning and business success by creating a unique ecosystem of education and entrepreneurship. Emerging leaders fast-track their product launches and grow their companies in this supportive community by connecting with mentors, customers and each other. Since opening in April 2010, the DMZ has stimulated Canada’s digital economy by incubating and accelerating 123 startups and creating more than 900 jobs. For more information, visit




Lauren Clegg
Media Relations
Ryerson University
416-979-5000 x2997

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