Next Steps For Silicon Halton?

Next Steps For Silicon Halton?

The Past and the Future of Silicon Halton

One of the things I’ll be focusing on over the next couple of years is the growth of the technology industry in Halton region. When I founded Silicon Halton with Rick Stomphorst and Reema Duggal in 2009, I believed there were hundreds of technology entrepreneurs and companies in Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville. And, that there were thousands if not tens of thousands of technology professionals that called Halton Region home. 

The challenge in 2009 was no one new this!! There was no catalyst to bring Halton based technology ventures and people in and interested in technology together. A catalyst that could, in part, mobilize people and motivate organizations to meet, learn from each other and grow. Grow their knowledge, networks and ventures (of all sizes). 

A catalyst that could evolve into a tech community and perhaps even become a cluster. 

While there were some amazing  leaders creating and building technology ventures and tons of technology professionals (and future tech stars) there wasn’t anyone that I could see that had the time to build the technology industry in and for the region. So, Rick, Reema and I decided to create grassroots technology community and we called it Silicon Halton. 

Meetup #1: The Most Important Meetup

So, we got to work on the Silicon Halton experiment! At that time “meetups” were the new thing. Instead of “events” people would self organize get togethers at coffee shops. 

Our first meetup took place at Williams Cafe in Oakville (now a restaurant). We used the LinkedIn meetups app (no longer available) with no idea whether anyone would register let alone attend. But, fifteen did and that was encouraging to say the least! 

Silicon Halton Meetup 1

Picture: Silicon Halton Meetup #1 2009.

I met some amazing technology professionals and entrepreneurs … some of which I’m honoured to say became clients of my agency and more importantly people I’m proud to know and to continually be in contact with. Meetup #1 was a success and it spurred us on to have a second one! I can only guess what would have happened if no one showed up… maybe SH would have never happened.

What Two Members Said

I think it was the third or fourth meetup that had significant impact on me as well. The focus of that meetup was to ask members what the future of Silicon Halton would look like. Two things stood out more than anything for me. The first was how collectively SH members could and should work together to “build our house” which is a great analogy for building our local technology industry. 

The second was making Halton Region a fertile ground for youth to develop their business and technology skills and remain here, or come back, to start technology ventures and their careers. 

Their Words Converted into Action

I’m gratified to see key people helping build our house particularly those that are leading our peer2peer groups.The Silicon Halton TU20 program has grown from one event five years ago to a range of events and engagement opportunities for youth in Halton. 

SH Leads

I’m encouraged by the support we’ve received, and given, to economic development teams at Town of Oakville, City of Burlington and Town of Milton.

Now What?

So, we’re ten years into this community experiment! The technology industry has changed both here in Halton and globally. 

In Halton, we’ve seen Geotab grow into the global leader in telematics. We’ve seen and welcomed Haltech, TechPlace and MEVIC to the ecosystem. Heck, we even took a crack at creating a Silicon Peel! 

Globally we’ve seen the mass market of technologies especially mobile devices, social network platforms and on the business side cloud based technologies. New emerging technologies, there are too many to list, represent opportunity for SH and our technology cluster. 

So, what’s next for Silicon Halton, me and you? That’s a great question! I’m giving this some thought this summer … but I know a key thing we all have to do is work together better and more often. 

I don’t know if it’s a Canadian thing or not, but we seem to go our separate ways and “do stuff”. There are attempts to “work together” but they start and stop with events about working together as opposed to well … actually working together! 

This needs to change and working together needs to become second nature. The future is collaborative work, collaborative partnerships and collaborative economic development and venture building. 

What do you think? What could be our next headline in the news? Contact me directly or join me in discussing this in our LinkedIn group.

SH Coverage 2011 Toronto Star

Other Engagement Options

I’ll be at numerous Silicon Halton events in August asking SH members for their thoughts and ideas. One such event our 25 Community Conversations events in partnership with Oakville Community Foundation. The theme of these conversations is what’s it take to “belong in Oakvile”. [More information | Sign up]

IIoT Symposium 2019: Interview with Remi Schmaltz, Agtech Entrepreneur

Each year we feature an interview with a key leader involved in the event. I’ve been fortunate enough to interview, Whitney Rockley and Scott McDonald in 2017 and 2018.

This year’s interview, is my first in my new series “The Leading Edge”. It’s with Remi Schmaltz, CEO and President of Decisive Farming. Our conversation covers emerging technologies being adopted by broadacre farms and farmers and why. You’ll learn about his company and the role it is playing in helping farmers be successful.

We also talk about Decisive Farming’s relationship with McRock Capital, their Canadian VC partner, and McRock’s IIoT Symposium taking place Jun 12, in Montreal, Canada.


Use the timeline to pick what you want to listen to 

00:00 Market: What is a broad acre farm and how big is the market? Where is Decisive Farming focusing today and in the near term?
02:50 Technology: How is technology solving key challenges for farmers and the agriculture market? What technologies are being used today? What challenges are farmers facing because of technologies?
07:50 Farmers: Are they innovators and early adopters of technology? What’s their mindset and approach to trying technology and eventually implementing it into their farm operations?
10:30 Decisive Farming: What’s the journey been like for you, your family and your company? Tell us more about your web platform My Farm Manager™ and the supportive mobile app Croptivity™ and the role they play in helping farmers be successful. How important is data and system integration.
16:43 Customers: What’s the typical farm client for Decisive Farmer? What are they like and how are you engaging with them to develop the market and acquire new customers? What are the key issues that you’re platform is addressing and delivering value to farmers?
24:00 McRock Capital & IIoT Symposium: How are they unique and what’s the relationship like with them as a funder? How are they different from other venture capital firms? What do you think about McRock’s IIoT Symposium? How is this annual event valuable to you and others that should attend?
30:18 Final Question: What advice would you give a new tech entrepreneur in order to improve her or his chances of success?  

Learn more about McRock Capital’s IIoT Symposium and take advantage of the early bird special before May 1/19.

Chris Herbert

Chris Herbert


Chris Herbert is the founder of Mi6. Mi6 is a B2B (Business to Business) marketing and business development agency dedicated to helping companies build their brands and develop commercial relationships. He is the founder of ProductCamp Toronto and the Hi-tech community Silicon Halton. He tweets under the handle @B2Bspecialist.

This Is Happening in Halton Region!

There is NO shortage of tech talent!

Getting immersed into your community uncovers amazing things, people and opportunity. My journal post today focuses on the reality that exists here in [Silicon] Halton. We hear stories about there being a talent shortage. Perhap there is but take a look around and you’ll see that where we live, work and play in Halton region….talent, enthusiasm and entrepreneurship is thriving thank you! Read on!

2019 TU20 Cup the Best Ever!

Picture: Winning teams, mentors, supporters and judges group shot (SH TU20 Cup 2019)

Congratulations to the winning teams and the TU20 leaders from this years Silicon Halton TU20Cup held Saturday March 4, 2019 at Sheridan College. This is our third year and it was the best yet! Thirty teams, representing over 100 students, registered in this years competition with 27 pitching their business ideas to help solve key issues facing youth in Halton Region. There will be more post coverage later on but in the meantime check out the Twitter moment to see what happened and who won. Here’s our press release announcing our ongoing partnership with Oakville Community Foundation.

Congratulations to Secure Sense and Questica!

As Halton youth were pitching new business ideas and venture concepts at the TU20 cup this month two local Halton tech companies were in the news. Secure Sense was recognized for excellence in managed IT services and the acquisition of Questica by GTY technology holdings was completed. Congrats to the Secure Sense and Questica teams for building great local companies.

Twings That Got My Attention

Silicon Halton’s February Software P2P was hosted by our friends at Pelmorex and we learned how to penny pinch in the cloud with serverless.

Here’s an interesting tweet from Katherine Scott, Image Analytics Team Lead at 3Scan that all developers in the AI space need to heed. And, youth developers in high school and university need to focus more on data base design and developing in the cloud. Two key weak areas we’ve seen during TU20s Learn to Get Hired events.

Now It’s Your Turn

These journal posts are done monthly and I report on the things I’ve been up to and caught my interest. If you’ve got something going on that you’d like me to participate let me know. Any key announcements you’d like for me share I can do so here as well, subject to space and time availability. Those members and their businesses that are giving first to the community take precedent along with strategic priorities and partner sponsors. Contact me on LInkedIn or @ me on Twitter when you have something you’d like me to share.

What’s Next in Our Community?

Lot’s of stuff happening in our community and there are many places to refer to regularly. Places to check out are: our newsletter, events page and blog posts. And, remember to check out what our TU20 team is up to as well.  

Some key activities I’d like to high lite are below. 

Mar 12: CoursepreneurX – A Framework For Building Great Online Courses

Mar 15: Silicon Halton Day @ ACE Coworking. Includes OpenOffice Hours with Chris Herbert.

March 25: Software P2P –  “A Practical View of Data and Information Extraction”

Mar 26: Women in Tech P2P – “How Can We Help?”

Mar 28: Diverse IT P2P (new P2P!) – Building an Ability Bank: Using Technology to Showcase Skills & Find Talent

April 29: Leadership Lessons from Sports | Special Event produced by Silicon Halton in partnership with Mev Innovation Centre and Town of Milton

Silicon Halton’s Tech Under Twenty Announces New Partners for Cup

For Immediate Release

Silicon Halton’s Tech Under Twenty Announces New Partners for Cup

Over $22,000 in funding available to winning teams to continue project for Oakville charities helping local youth

Oakville, Ont., Feb. 27, 2019 Silicon Halton’s Tech Under Twenty (TU20) is excited to announce a partnership with the Oakville Community Foundation and RBC for the TU20 Cup.

With the recent release of The Oakville Community Foundation’s 2018 research the ‘Vital Youth Report: A Tale of Two Childhoods’, The Oakville Community Foundation has identified a unique partnership. They will provide a first place and second place prize to the successful TU20 Cup teams, and the award must be used to work with a local charity to resolve a pressing issue as identified in the Youth Report.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the Oakville Community Foundation and the RBC Foundation,” said Denys Linkov, President of Tech Under Twenty. “We’re grateful to both foundations for their support in the type of work we’re trying to accomplish at Tech Under Twenty.”

The TU20 Cup is a multi-month entrepreneurship competition that focuses on motivating youth to get involved with technology and business. In teams of two to six, students develop solutions to issues related to a yearly theme.

This year teams were challenged to come up with solutions to issues relating to youth in Halton which are laid out in the Watchlist in the Oakville Community Foundation’s 2018 report.

The 30 teams, made up of 120 students, work with a mentor to develop a prototype for their solution as well as a business plan and pitch. They then present their solutions to a team of judges on the final day of competition.

“The TU20 competition is making terrific use of our 2018 Vital Youth Report,” said Wendy Rinella, CEO of the Oakville Community Foundation. “These are real issues that are being faced by youth in our community and this group of students has taken it upon themselves to create solutions. We’re very proud to support this project and give the winning teams the chance to implement their solutions.”

As part of their work, the teams were asked to identify local Halton charities that could benefit from their prototype solutions. A monetary prize is being provided to the first and second place winners which will help the teams implement their solutions with a charity partner.

The first place team will be given a contract with a charity partner valued at $15,000, jointly funded by the Oakville Community Foundation and the RBC Foundation with the funds directed to the charity to implement the winning solution.

An additional contract valued at $7,500 will be provided for the second place team, funded solely by The Oakville Community Foundation.

“RBC is excited to support the work being done by Silicon Halton’s Tech Under Twenty,” said Peter Choma, Vice President, Commercial Financial Services, Halton South for RBC.“ These issues affect so many youth in Halton and it’s inspiring to see the great work for youth being led by youth”

The teams are coming together for one day of competition on Saturday, March 2 at Sheridan College’s Oakville-Trafalgar Campus from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


About Tech Under Twenty Tech Under Twenty (TU20) is a student community focused on technology, entrepreneurship and business. With a project focused approach, we help students understand the future of technology, help them build key skills and connect them with career accelerating opportunities. Since its creation in 2015, TU20 has grown to over 400 members and has an alumni group that has worked at some of the top Canadian and International Companies. TU20 is a key part of the Silicon Halton Community and Halton’s innovation ecosystem.

About the Oakville Community Foundation The Foundation is a registered charity in its 25th year of Building Community Through Philanthropy. The Foundation is a registered charity that has granted $40 million to charities since 1994 and supports investments of over $100 million in charitable assets. We welcome families, businesses and residents into our community and give everyone the opportunity to be a philanthropist. The Foundation is one of the largest members of a national network of more than 190 Canadian community foundations.

About the RBC Foundation Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles- led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 84,000+ employees who bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank, and one of the largest in the world based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 16 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 33 other countries. Learn more at

We are proud to support a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments and employee volunteer activities. See how at

Microsoft Investing In Toronto and Affordable Housing

One Billion Dollars!


Kudos to Microsoft for investing in Canada and affordable housing in Seattle. These two, albeit, separate news items and decisions are more significant when looked at together.

In this journal update I dig in a bit on these announcements and ask us to think through two lenses. The first is whether we think gentrification is an issue in Canada and yup in Halton region. I would say not yet but affordable housing is an issue.

Second, the investments being made by foreign companies are, for the most part, a positive sign about the attractiveness of the Canadian technology scene.

But, we cannot take our eye off the made in Canada ball. Canada must become a leader in creating and growing technology companies and creating world class entrepreneurs.

Will Other Tech Companies Follow in Microsoft’s footsteps?

In my October Journal post I talked about the importance of affordable housing in Toronto. I’ve had conversations with younger engineers in the tech sector in Halton region and the topic of affordable housing has been brought up.

The challenge facing young tech professionals is the cost of houses in Halton region. It’s difficult for them to settle here and start families. Imagine what it’s like for low income families and the 1 in 8 youth who live below the poverty line in Oakville?

The fall out of technology industry success has been gentrification. Lower income neighbourhoods are being taken over by startups and people are being driven away as a result. A fully functioning society has to accommodate diversity.

People of all ages, all incomes, all religions, all cultures and all sexual orientations must have the chance to live and work in their towns and cities. It was encouraged to see that Microsoft has pledged $500M to help address affordable housing in Seattle. Will other tech companies follow suit?

Big Investment in Toronto by Tech Companies

You’ve probably heard about the $570M investment Microsoft is making in Canada. It’s great to see this type of investment in Canada. It’s not surprising given the talented technology professionals coming out of school and already working in technology.

There are other mitigating factors for this investment including Canada’s supercluster program, our academic leadership in AI and immigration policies.

My bet is that AI will be a key focus area for Microsoft in Canada especially since they lead in AI patents. AI patents are the fasted growing IP category.

But, as I’ve cautioned before Canada must focus on creating and building made in Canada technology companies. See: Important Advice for Canadian Startups and Ecosystems | Focus on Canadian Entrepreneurs and Local Ecosystems

Twings That Got My Attention

I love creating sqwords (where two words are combined to create a new one, also known as a neologism. A Twing means things on Twitter that got my attention. 

Here’s something we should all read and maybe comment on in our LinkedIn group.

Silicon Halton cofounder Reema Duggal was recently interviewed by Silicon Halton member Philip Bliss on the Canada Podcast Network. Here’s a good opportunity to learn more about Reema’s experience and expertise and her ventures: Sitaran Group and Configrr. Phil asks some interesting questions about Reema’s transition from working a Fortune 1000 company to becoming an entrepreneur. A must listen interview!

AMS Halton Event

Last Friday, I attended the AMS Halton TechConnect Event. It was great to see Silicon Halton members there (there were ten). Thanks to the Milton Chamber of Commerce. I was live tweeting at the event.

Silicon Halton was a promotions sponsor of the event which was designed to bring Halton area manufacturers and technology entrepreneurs and professionals together to learn more about the supercluster program and NGen Canada.

What for a summary post that will be featured on the MTechHub site. Learn more about the supercluster and NGen Canada. If you have any questions you can contact me.

Now It’s Your Turn!

These journal posts are done monthly and I report on the things I’ve been up to and caught my interest. If you’ve got something going on that you’d like me to participate let me know. Any key announcements you’d like for me share I can do so here as well, subject to space and time availability. Those members and their businesses that are giving first to the community take precedent along with strategic priorities and partner sponsors. Contact me on LInkedIn or @ me on Twitter when you have something you’d like me to share.

What’s Next in Our Community?

Lot’s of stuff happening in our community and there are many places to refer to regularly. Places to check out are: our newsletter, events page and blog posts. And, remember to check out what our TU20 team is up to as well.  

Some key activities I’d like to high lite are below.

Jan 31: Diverse IT – Peer 2 Peer Launch

Feb 1: Getting IoT Devices To Global Markets: Real World Examples – Part 2

Feb 1: Silicon Halton day at Mevic

Feb 12: Meetup #111 – Agile 18 Years Later | What’s Changed?

Feb 15: Silicon Halton Day at ACE Coworking featuring OpenOffice hours with Chris Herbert.

Feb 25: Penny Pinching in the Cloud with Serverless

Feb 25: Women in Tech Peer2Peer. Selling for small business


Journal Update: Dec 3/2018

Weekly? What was I thinking? =)

For those of you out there who know me I’m a big fan of experimentation and learning! This journal has, and continues to be, an experiment! I’ll continue to update the community through this journal series but the frequency is going to vary a bit…. well it already is. There will be some weeks when there’s not much to share as well. Ideally, at some point, I’d like to see this journal update penned by others who want to guest post on the SH site. If you’re interested contact me

Focus on Canadian Entrepreneurs and Local Ecosystems (continued)

Bluewater Wood Alliance (BWA) Cluster

On November 21st, I attended the Bluewater Wood Alliance’s quarterly networking event at the Ron Joyce Centre, which is home to the DeGroote School of Businesses MBA and Executive Education programs. It’s important for Silicon Halton members to be aware of organizations like BWA, a not-for-profit wood manufacturing cluster serving Southwestern Ontario, that facilitates the interests and needs of their members. They are integrally involved in the Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster initiative being managed by Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen). BWA will be helping their members – wood manufacturers – gain access to a portion of the $950M being allocated through Federal Government’s Supercluster Initiatives program. BWA represents an end customer market for Silicon Halton members who deliver technology services and solutions that will enable BWA members to adopt newer technologies to help them become more competitive and digitally transform. 

It’s very important that Halton Region stands apart and is recognized as fertile ground for cluster development programs and cooperative collaboration. A good example of this in action is the AMS Halton working group formed by the Milton Chamber of Commerce. This working group includes representatives from Silicon Halton, MTechHub, HalTech, bdc, Oakville and Burlington Chambers of Commerce, Milton Economic Development and more. Stay tuned for updates. 

The Entrepreneurial Life!

I really get a kick out of bumping into Silicon Halton members outside of “our orbit” of meetups and peer to peer sessions! I was playing a squash game at Glen Abbey Recreation Centre last weekend and sitting on the bench outside the court watching was SH member Brett Gillett! His comment to me “you look a lot more tired than the other guy”! He was right! The good news is I won the match. 

It turns out that his partner, Karen, was exhibiting in the craft fair at Glen Abbey. She offers really interesting art maker kits for kids and it was a great Christmas present for one of my niece’s little ones.

Now It’s Your Turn

These journal posts are done weekly (ish) and I report on the things I’ve been up to. I try to get out three to four times per week. If you’ve got something going on that you’d like me to participate let me know. Any key announcements you’d like for me share I can do so here as well, subject to space and time availability. Those members and their businesses that are giving first to the community take precedent along with strategic priorities and partner sponsors. 

What’s Next in Our Community?

Lot’s of stuff happening in our community and there are many places to refer to regularly. Places to check out are: our newsletter, events page and blog posts. And, remember to check out what our TU20 team is up to as well.  

Some key activities I’d like to high lite are below. 

Weekly Journal for Week of Nov 11/18

Focus, focus, focus on….!

The week has gotten away from me but my commitment to a weekly journal post remains in tact! These posts, pretty much reflect on, some of the things I experienced within our SH community and with members. Some times I’ll post things that reach outside of the community but merit you knowing about them. My theme, if you will, is all about focus. All of us, in my humble opinion, must focus on our collective success as Canadian entrepreneurs and professionals. 

Focus on Canadian Entrepreneurs and Local Ecosystems

Government’s View and Approach on Economic Development is Bass Ackwards!

The distraction of attracting Amazon to every Canadian city (no doubt with serious concessions) is just one example of how we aren’t focused on what matters. I’m not a nationalist and believe that partnerships with people and companies around the world should be encouraged. But, the focus has to be on how we, as a country (and a region), are building an entpreneurial and economic ecosystem that is based on self determination.

Made in Canada matters more today than it ever has. So, sorry Amazon, Google and [put non-Canadian company here being courted by politicians] we’re good. Yes, I up, a see a sense of irony in that we named our community Silicon Halton to emulate Silicon Valley but I like to think we have the opportunity to be better…. especially in the areas of social responsibility, inclusion and ethical use of data. 

We all know that it takes more time and money to acquire a new customer than to retain one. Then why is it that all levels of government are obsessed with attracting new companies vs. addressing the needs of local companies? Why is it that some of our Universities are developing IP for foreign companies and countries with no strings attached [read the story here]? While, a local Canadian startup is in a dispute with a Canadian University regarding rights to the IP they developed while in their incubator [read about it here]. This is crazy!  Why is it that our Prime Minister declined an invitation, twice, to visit a local technology company but was more than willing to fly to Silicon Valley and court the local technology companies about the quality of our talent [yup, this is true too]? 

“Well, for starters we need to see our government supporting more Canadian companies that are looking to build and grow at home.


We need our government to work with industry leaders to develop the right innovation growth strategy for Canada, a strategy designed to support our scale-up companies that are emerging on the world stage.


We need government to listen to and nurture our scaling companies here at home, instead of chasing giants from abroad.”

– Carl Rodrigues, CEO of SOTI, Inc.

How committed are we all to developing a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem that’s primary focus is on starting, growing and sustaining made in Canada companies? The recent Supercluster program is encouraging but it’s early days. So, I will continue to step up and do what I can personally and through my ventures to be focused on creating and supporting world class Canadian entrepreneurs and companies. In fact you need to as well. So when a local entrepreneur asks you for help and wants to partner talk to her. Be open and realize that if we don’t lead in the creating and growth of Canadian companies we won’t be able to control our destiny in any industry. 

China Will Lead in AI … but for the Wrong Reasons

Canada, supposedly is the leader in AI, or is it? Yes we have some well known pioneers in AI heading up labs and holding senior roles at Universities. But, how does one define “leading”. I would argue that China already leads based on investment, number of AI developers and outcomes. But, it’s for the wrong reasons, just watch the video below and you’ll see why. My question to Universities is will you being doing more research and development for Chinese companies for AI? Or, should you go “all in” and focus on Canadian companies exclusively? You know where I stand.

But, We Can Lead … for the Right Reasons!

I’m believe strongly that we have the best talent, the best entrepreneurs and the greatest opportunity available to us more than any other country. If we can do it in hockey why not building great forever lasting ventures?! But, I have to call out the things that concern me about whether we’re on the right path or not. And, we need to believe that there is an abundance of opportunity for us all and work together to create a path that will make us succeed as professionals, entrepreneurs and yup, human beings! And we need to step up and contribute. 

Last week’s TU20 Policy in Technology event is one example where people, in this case students, are choosing to lead and give a voice as to the path we should take. In this case it had to do with policy an AI. Below are some select tweets from the thread we published during the competition. Check the thread out here.

I was at the event and witnessed an amazing group of students who put forward policy recommendations as part of a case competition focuses on policy and technology. There were three winning teams and you’ll notice that five of the seven winning team members were women. Overall there were more male students participating in the event but we were encouraged with the number of female students participating and their result! Each winning team member received a plaque and the first place team $1500. 


Now It’s Your Turn

These journal posts are done weekly and I report on the things I’ve been up to. I try to get out three to four times per week. If you’ve got something going on that you’d like me to participate let me know. Any key announcements you’d like for me share I can do so here as well, subject to space and time availability. Those members and their businesses that are giving first to the community take precedent along with strategic priorities and partner sponsors. 

What’s Next in Our Community?

Lot’s of stuff happening in our community and there are many places to refer to regularly. Places to check out are: our newsletter, events page and blog posts. And, remember to check out what our TU20 team is up to as well.  

Some key activities I’d like to high lite are below. 

Weekly Journal for Week of Nov 4/18

Social Good Was The Theme for the Week!

Last week was fantastic! In addition to serving our Mi6 Agency clients my Silicon Halton travels including getting together and engaging with SH members and the broader Halton community. I’m a big believer in the concept of “abundance” — thanks to Mark Fornasiero [LinkedIn | Twitter] who is a growth and exit strategist who introduced me to this concept — which means there is plenty to go around for us all. 

This way of thinking means that collectively we can all benefit from progress by sharing, helping and collectively aiming for success. In fact it’s my strong view that the current way we to business is broken and too few are generating too much for themselves. A new vision on what business can and should do to distribute value to our society and to each other is long overdue.

I’d like to think that Silicon Halton plays this role for many of us. Our community, our companies and our economy leave people behind… that has to change. 

Youth at Risk in Halton Region

Oakville Community Foundation (OCF) Releases Vital Youth Report

On Nov 6th I attended Oakville Community Foundations launch event for their: “Vital Youth Report, A Tale of Two Childhoods”. I was taken aback at the realities of youth at risk in Oakville and the surround area. However, the presentation and event achieved a balance of dire news with hope and opportunity. 

Vital Youth Report

But first, we all must understand what’s happening to our youth and the vulnerable groups within it. Watch the video below or check out my tweet thread for some alarming stats.

So, Canada sucks when it comes to supporting youth. So does Halton Region. Let’s call a spade a spade first! 

Now, let’s do something about it shall we? Get involved in local charities, make a donation to one of OCF Funds, not for profits and programs like Silicon Halton’s TU20 program. Equally important is be mindful that more of our youth are in need than you’d think. Start with your own kids and families. Silicon Halton the the TU20 team are proud to be working with OCF in 2019 to help affect positive change in our community. Stay tuned to learn more.

Diversity Program to be Announced

Two key activities happened last week on the subject of diversity. First, we had a kitchen table discussion with a small group of SH members on the topic of diversity. Elizabeth Bolton Lim [LinkedIn], Diversity Officer from BDC share with SH members how BDC has implemented a diversity program. And, we met with Kimberly Neale [LinkedIn], who is working with SH member Noel Martel [LinkedIn] to launch a diversity program for SH. Stay tuned. 

Taking it To The Street with Santa!

Some of you may know that I’m an advisor at Emoggo [Website | Facebook| Twitter], a social enterprise and app, designed to help local shops and restaurants connect with shoppers. It’s now launched in Milton, Burlington and Oakville. Last week Lisa Denis [LinkedIn]. Last week we visited local stores in Milton wearing out ugly Christmas sweaters (photos were banned from the Internet!). Our goal was to tell them about Emoggo and that a team from Emoggo and Re:Soul Youth Centre [Website] will be in Milton’s Santa Claus parade on Nov 17th!  And, Emoggo will be in the Burlington Santa Claus parade as well. 

Milton Santa Claus Parade

The goal is to generate awareness, end users and enhanced business listings. Emoggo is designed to help the following groups: 1) Businesses: to generate foot traffic and mobile first customers; 2) Shoppers and Diners: to discover, support and remember nearby shops, restaurants and more; 3) Community Partners : like BIAs and business groups to deliver more value to their members, and 4) Charities and Clubs: as another channel to generate awareness and financial support. 

Now It’s Your Turn

These journal posts are done weekly and I report on the things I’ve been up to. I try to get out three to four times per week. If you’ve got something going on that you’d like me to participate let me know. Any key announcements you’d like for me share I can do so here as well subject to space and time availability. Those members and their businesses that are giving first to the community take precedent along with strategic priorities and partner sponsors. 

What’s Next in Our Community?

Lot’s of stuff happening in our community and there are many places to refer to regularly. Places to check out are: our newsletter, events page and blog posts. And, remember to check out what our TU20 team is up to as well.  

One key activities I’d like to high lite is below. 

Chris’ Weekly Journal for Week of Oct 28/18

Lot’s of Face Time!

Updated: Nov 13/18 | By: Chris Herbert

I found myself out and about the Silicon Halton community for a host of reasons this past week. Getting out of the office and talking to people can be such a rush and last week was like a breath of fresh air. Many of us spend so much time in our offices and in front of screens! What’s even more cool is that many Silicon Halton members were out and about last week too! 

Last IoT and Women in Tech Peer2Peers Were Awesome!

Great Turnout at IoT Peer2Peer

On Friday November 2nd, Jacques Lirette [LinkedIn] from SKY data sims [Website] discussed how combining IoT hardware, sensors and global data coverage can simplify and speed up IoT deployments.

SH IoT P2P, Nov 2

You can think of Peer2Peer groups as splinter SH community groups that get together based on a topic area, such as IoT, or role (entrepreneurs), gender etc. Special thanks to the MEV Innovation Centre [Website | LInkedIn | Twitter] who is a strategic partner of Silicon Halton. 

Women in Tech Talk and Learn About Body Language

No photos, that I could find, from the last Women in Tech Peer2Peer session. The topic was very interesting though! Technically this didn’t happen the week of the 28th but I wanted to give a shout out to the WIT team. 

Next IoT Peer2Peer Session: I’m not sure if one is planned for December or not but you can learn more about the group here and join it on

Next WIT Peer2Peer Session: Hiring 101 Nov 27th. More details here.

My Tour of Hamilton Technology Centre

Rob McCann [LinkedIn], the President of Hamilton Technology Centre [Website | LinkedIn], gave me a tour of his facility which his company Clearcable [Website | LinkedIn | Twitter] purchased from the City of Hamilton [Article] in 2017. This is an interesting story in that Hamilton Economic Development sold their technology innovation hub and incubator to an entrepreneur as part of a strategic decision. Check out the video below to learn more about the Centre and thanks to Rob for the tour!


Enable Education Grows and MTechHub Welcomes Visitors from Spain!

Enable Education’s Brand new 8000 sq ft Space With World-class Training and AV Studios

Congratulations to Ben Zimmer [LinkedIn] and Amy Leask [LinkedIn | Twitter] on the continued success of Enable Education [Website | LinkedIn | Twitter].  On Nov 1 they held an open house to show off their new digs! One of the coolest things, and offering, is Enable’s classroom and AV suite which you can book to teach, record and then edit your session! Here’s a promotion video they made and some Twitter chatter about the opening as well!

MTechHub Hosts Institutional Mission from Spain

Key leaders from various technology innovation centres in the region of Murcia, Spain visited MTechHub [Website | LinkedIn | Twitter] last week to learn about their work and capabilities and to look for collaboration and synergies with MTechHub and their membership. MTechHub is an Industry 4.0 Innovation Centre and Community located in Burlington. Silicon Halton is working closely with MTechHub, and they are an Mi6 Agency client (one of my ventures) .

Over the past 18 months the MTechHub team has been investigating digital adoption use cases, academic and innovation center Industry 4.0 initiatives. Numerous “point” technologies were examined. However, the cornerstone of Industry 4.0 is connected systems.

What’s Next in Our Community?

Lot’s of stuff happening in our community and there are many places to refer to regularly. Places to check out are: our newsletter, events page and blog posts. And, remember to check out what our TU20 team is up to as well.  

Two key activities I’d like to high lite are below. 

CORRECTION: The event below takes place on Nov 17th NOT the 24th

Chris’ Weekly Journal for Oct 14 to Oct 27/18

All Caught Up!

Updated: Nov 10/18 | By: Chris Herbert

It’s Saturday October 27th and this weekend finds me catching up on my Journal posts, playing in Squash Ontario’s Masters Tournament [Twitter thread] and wishing my youngest grandson a very, very happy fourth birthday. Some cool things happened this week in and around our community and here’s three things that came to mind. 

Technical Deep Dive at Silicon Halton Software Peer2Peer (P2P) on JSON Web Tokens

On Mon Oct 22 Chris Larsen [LinkedIn | Twitter] gave a presentation on JSON Web Tokens. 

Chris’ presentation is below and to learn more read his post “JWTs: More Than You Think“. Here’s a snip from his post:

JSON Web Tokens, or JWTs, are a very important aspect of internet technology, be it Internet of Things, or Internet of People. Knowing this makes it very confusing as to why there’s so little discussion about it, and so much misinformation about it. So I’m writing this blog post to share some information, and hopefully clear away the mists that surround this subject.


This software P2P group is one of our strongest with over 270 members led by David Ashton with support from my cofounder Rick Stomphorst, other P2P members and organizations like Indellient [Website | LinkedIn| Twitter], Apple Suites [Website | LinkedIn] and alternawork [Website | LinkedIn | Twitter] . The topics have been set for Nov and Jan. [Learn more].

Make in Halton App Emoggo Launches!

Congratulations to Lisa Denis on the launch of her new venture Emoggo [Website | LinkedIn | iOS | AndroidTwitter].  Emoggo is a mobile digital marketing channel developed to generate a community of customers who will support, through sales, local businesses. It’s an app that connects consumers with all the local businesses that are around them in Halton Region. Plans are to roll out Emoggo in other markets.

Halton is the pilot market. Download the app [iOS | Android] and if you own a business or know of someone that does make sure the claim the listing and find out how to use Emoggo to generate traffic and sales. I’d like to personally thank and acknowledge Mark Arteaga [LinkedIn | Twitter] , Hazel van der Werken-Small [LinkedIn | Twitter] and the RedBit Development team [Website | LinkedIn | Twitter] for the amazing work they’ve done working with Lisa to bring this app to life! A great example of Silicon Halton community members working together!

Thinking and Acting Beyond “Smart Cities”

As some of you may know Silicon Halton has held two smart cities meetup in 2018 including:  Silicon Halton Meetup #102 – IoT in Smart Cities and our Smart City Meetup with Silicon Halton and Town of Oakville. The IoT Peer2Peer group has presented on smart buildings and LP Wan as well. There’s a very important reason why we’ve been doing this and the video below illustrates this very well. It’s from the Intelligent Communities Forum who had a round table event earlier this week which I attended on behalf of the SH Community. Invest seven minutes of your time to learn why it’s important for the broader community to work with government and in some (many?) cases take a leadership role.


I tweeted the agenda below and this is what makes ICF THE organization to be involved with when it comes to Smart Cities. Case study after case study! Sharing lessons learned with each other! Awesomeness! intelligent communities! You can check out my full tweet thread from coverage of ICF Canada’s [Website | Twitter] Round Table Forum earlier this week here.


One of the best presentations was by the City of Hamilton which included this awesome video promoting Hamilton. The video is great, the tune is great and what makes this video very special to me is the City of Hamilton is using local artist’s Monster Truck [Website | Twitter] song “Not Enough” [Spotify]. This City gets what it takes to be an intellligent community. 


What’s Next in Our Community?

Lot’s of stuff happening in our community and there are two places on this site to refer to regularly. Places to check out are: our newsletter, events page and blog posts. And, remember to check out what our TU20 team is up to as well. 

Chris’ Weekly Journal for Week of Oct 7/18

Playing Catch Up!

Well it’s October 23rd and I’m finding myself behind in my weekly journal posts! These posts share some of the things that happened the previous week within the SH community and news that caught my attention that is relevant to our local tech ecosystem. I’ll allow editorial leeway as well though! 

Affordable Housing

A key issue facing Toronto (any city for that matter), especially those developing technology clusters, is the availability of affordable housing. There are many factors that contribute to this problem, some caused by technology companies specifically, but regardless of the cause affordable housing for all people is vital in any community. I mean ALL people including those in need, young professionals, new families and older people. And, we need fresh thinking when it comes to commercial and residential property development especially when it comes to mixed use. I’d love to see a complex that is designed specifically for first time commercial AND residential property buyers. 


Congratulations Lisa Denis

Silicon Halton member and Women in Tech Peer2Peer co-lead Lisa Denis is a 2018 winner of the 50 over 50 awards [More here] . Lisa’s newest venture is Emoggo [Website] a social enterprise and application that will help small businesses grow while supporting local community groups. It’s great to see that entrepreneurs over 50 are being recognized! The 50+ group pumps out more entrepreneurs than any other demographic [Source]! 


Is Your Technology Invention Protectable?

Special thanks to our sponsor Bereskin & Parr who presented at meetup 108 on October 8th. What’s great about our community is the talent and expertise our members have and offer. This meetup was a “drinking through the firehose” experience! It was quite comprehensive and time well spent for sure. The takeaway? If you’re developing a technology product be sure to invest time, effort and money in understanding IP protection and how it can be used to your advantage. In my experience working with technology professionals not enough time is spent in this area! The Oct 8th meetup was a great information primer. Thanks to Ian McMillan, Patent Partner [LinkedIn]; Catherine Lovrics, Partner, Laywer and Trade Mark Agent [LinkedIn], and Matthew Graff, Partner [LinkedIn] from Bereskin & Parr for presenting and allow us to share the presentation deck below.  

 What’s Next in Our Community?

I’m still playing catch up with my journal posts so look for a couple more very soon. In the meantime check out Silicon Halton’s upcoming events [Events page]

Chris’ Weekly Journal for Week of Sep 30/18

Defining Our Direction?

If you were to spend one night chatting with Silicon Halton members you’d find out very fast that we have world class entrepreneurs, technologists, data scientists, software developers, lawyers, sales reps and marketers. That’s why when I heard about the City of Toronto “partnering” with Google’s Sidewalk labs my first question was why? Make no mistake that the direction we set when it comes to things like “citizen data”, “smart cities” and AI will affect our countries destiny. So, do we really need Google to make the City of Toronto “smart”. Nope. Made in Canada and made for Canada is better.  Check out Jim Basillie’s article in the Globe and Mail entitled: Sidewalk Toronto has only one beneficiary, and it is not Toronto [Article link].

IoT and Facility Management

At this past weeks IoT Peer2Peer, we discussed the evolution of technology solutions that involves integration of software, sensors and trackers (IoT devices) and data networks (integrated solutions) to manage the utilization and performance of facilities & assets (fixed and mobile) for driving the desired business outcomes. Bhuwan Sharma [LinkedIn], from Kibog Inc [Website], shared his thoughts on the industry, based on his interactions with facility and physical asset managers, provide a demo and share lessons learned from collaborating with customers to build/bootstrap an integrated facility & asset management solution.

Thank You

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and enjoyed spending time with your friends and family. I’d like to express my thanks to the many Silicon Halton members that have are contributing to make our community very special. This is a partial list for sure! Thanks to:

 What’s Next in Our Community?

  • Tomorrow is our 108th meetup asking If Your AI Invention is Patentable? [more and register] and were’ very lucky to have Ian McMillan [LinkedIn], Patent Partner and Catherine Lovrics [LinkedIn] , Partner, Lawyer and Trade Mark Agent from Bereskin & Parr [Website]. 
  • Oct 16th learn how to Successfully Lead in a Multi-Generational Workforce [see events]
  • Oct 22nd the Software Peer2Peer group is covering JSON Web Tokens [see events]
  • Oct 24th the CEO Peer2Peer is covering Channels to Get to Market [see events]
  • Oct 24th the Women in Tech Peer2Peer is covering Body Language [see events]

Chris’ Weekly Journal for Week of Sep 23/18

We’re Here to Help Each Other

I don’t care what anyone tells you, business is personal and emotion does factor into what you do as a professional. Maybe not every waking minute of the day but often, very often! Last week, more than anything, was about helping people in our community. Whether it was helping a member get more experience in QA, initial planning for a diversity initiative or a member’s company giving the green light for next years TU20 fellowship program… it’s all about us helping each other. 

LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn groups user experience has changed (again) and as far as I’m concerned it’s a major step in the wrong direction. Since 2010, LinkedIn, has taken away key features and functionality that made groups useful. I wrote about it eight years ago where I asked the question: “What Was LinkedIn Thinking” [read it here]. The same question applies today! I’ve posted a discussion in our LI group to get SH members thoughts [discuss it here].

Local Tech Matters and So Does Lower Power Wide Area Networks

Over the past year I’ve been recommending that local municipalities engage with the local tech community early and often when it comes to Smart Cities [read our series here] and the Internet of Things. Our local technology and entrepreneur ecosystem are leaders in this space and larger companies in the “smart cities” and IoT space like Siemens, Cisco and WPP should be more involved with the local tech scene and not compete against it. Silicon Halton member Lisa Denis [LinkedIn] recently covered McRock Capital’s IIoT Symposium and in her recap post “Wonder and the Importance of an Ecosystem” [read it here] she drives this point home. There is NOT ONE company that can make a city smart. There is NOT ONE company that is the answer to IoT. There are many!

One key company in our ecosystem that matters is, Oakville based, Quaenet [post and interview here] who are deploying Lower Power Wide Area Networks in North America and Italy. Their network is built off of LoRaWAN™ networking protocol [definition] which based on a recent LPWAN report is seeing widespread adoption.  

Reality Check on Alphabet and Blockchain

For those who know me I’m a huge fan and advocate of emerging technology and the professionals and companies that are working in and on bleeding edge technologies and business models. What I’m not a fan of is unproven and unchecked hype and a lack of understanding and dedication Canadian leaders have towards supporting made in Canada solutions. 

We need to keep an eye on the Quayside project, and Google to make sure that if the project proceeds that it’s very clear what Canadians are giving up in exchange for working with Alphabet. Municipalities are like Dominos. If one goes with a solution they tend to follow. Do you want Google to be your smart city partner in your city or town? 

It’s very early days when it comes to Blockchain and from what I can tell the only people making money are those putting on events about it! 

What’s Next in Our Community?

This week’s goings on include a bunch of stuff happening at MEVIC (Milton Education Village and Innovation Centre) including our Silicon Halton Day, an IoT Peer2Peer session and workshop on GDPR.  [Learn more and register here].

We’ll be back in Milton on October 9th for meetup 108: “Is Your AI Invention Patentable” presented by Bereskin & Parr [See who’s presenting here]. 

What is LPWan and LoRaWAN? A conversations with Sam Reid from Quaenet

Posted: Sep 27/18 | By: Chris Herbert 

Here’s our next installment in our conversation series with Silicon Halton members, sponsor partners and generally some pretty cool people that we’d like you to get to know. Our guest is Silicon Halton member Sam Reid, Director of Business Development [LinkedIn] for Quaenet [Web Site | LinkedIn | Twitter].

Local Matters

Local companies like Quaenet, from Oakville, are extremely important to the success of our entrepreneur and technology ecosystem. Canada (Halton Region) needs to lead in key emerging technology fields like the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Blockchain etc. There are many reasons why but the most obvious one is why not?!

So we’ll keep telling you about some amazing people and companies, in tech,  in our back yard and encourage you to support them. These local companies drive economic development, partnerships and jobs and are well suited to provide technology solutions and services not only globally but to the many non-tech companies here in Halton region as well. 

Let’s Learn about LPWan, LoRaWAN and Quaenet!

Sam presented to the Silicon Halton IoT Peer2Peer group recently [Learn More & Join] and he and I had a conversation. HIs slides and the recording of our conversations are below. Enjoy!

NOTE: The timeline below outlines what we discussed. To fast forward to a spot in the interview press the > key on your keyboard. 

00:35 What is LPWan and how is it better than than using cellular and wifi for IoT?
01:53 Most telematics solutions required connectivity using cellular or satelite? What is the use case for LPWan for fleets?
03:49 Who is Quaenet and what’s the status of their LPWan roll out? How is Quaenet funded and what are some key partners integral to building out Quaenet’s LPWan infrastructure?
06:55 What is LoRaWAN and how can you get started using LPWan technology? Should you set up your own private network or use a public one like Quaenet’s? What are the advantages of using a public LPWan operators network?
11:10 How is 5G different than LPWan/LoRaWAN?
13:35 What types of customers is/can Quaenet support and what are some use cases. Examples covered include Smart Cities, asset management, farming and even golf courses.
22:07 What is it that you want Silicon Halton members to know about Quaenet and some of the key goals for the company?


Chris’ Weekly Journal for Week of Sep 16/18

Where to Start? What a Week!

There wasn’t a lack of things to do last week! I continue to be amazed at what technology leaders and supporters are doing in the SH community. Here’s a quick run down of what happened. 

TU20 CE Conference

The leadership team for Silicon Halton’s TU20 program had their inaugural C3 conference on Saturday. Key speakers were recruited for this event by the TU20 team. The goal of this event was to bring key leaders in business together with U20s to cover a range of topics on careers, technology, fake news… and what’s next for the U20 crowd! This event was covered on Twitter using the #TU20C3 and #C3Conference hashtags.

TU20 Summer Fellowships

Another new initiative launched by the TU20 team this past summer was the Fellowships program. U20s submitted a technology solution idea they were passionate in creating. There were NO conditions on our part as to what they wanted to create. Three U20s were given a $1000 fellowship. Learn about these amazing U20s Fellowship experiences and the apps they built to help diagnose concussions, track the medication you’ve taken and a web tool for city planning using Geotab’s Data Platform.

Machine Learning Using ML.NET

The SH Software Peer2Peer group got together to dig deep (pun intended) into machine learning using ML.NET. Special thanks to members Dave Ashton [LinkedIn] and Chris Larson [LinkedIn] for their leadership in making this group a success! Thanks to partners sponsor Alternawork [website] for hosting the event. 

Nuvo Network Open House!

I met with the Nuvo Network team during their open house last week. The coworking facility and community is the next evolution the Halton Hive. It’s a very ambitious initiative and something we need to get behind and support. 

What’s Next in Our Community?

Tomorrow night the Women in Tech Peer2Peer are getting together to discuss: Kick-Starting Your Fall.  This month they are sliding into the new season with some brainstorming on upcoming sessions, hacking solutions to most pressing problems, pitching a project that they can collaborate on, updating some past sessions and getting ready for the best Fall ever! [More

The CEO Peer2Peer group meets on Wednesday. [More]

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