CDMN News Article

CDMN Welcomes Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ) as our Tenth National Node

By on May 22, 2012 / Categories: CDMN News, Featured

On April 24th, not only did CDMN kick-off the fourth annual Canada 3.0 digital media forum, we also welcomed the tenth family member to our national network of nodes. “Ryerson’s DMZ joins the CDMN at an exciting time when digital media is gaining traction,” said Dr. Kevin Tuer, Managing Director at CDMN. “Our collaborative relationship with DMZ will help to support Canada’s investment in its digital future by ensuring that startups, undergraduates and entrepreneurs have the foundation required for success.”

Targeted to young entrepreneurs, DMZ provides the tools needed to make digital dreams a reality, offering an incubator environment where students and aspiring entrepreneurs can gain experience before jumping into the startup world. Since the DMZ’s official opening in April 2010, there have been 43 companies incubated and accelerated through the program. Presently there are approximately 165 entrepreneurs, working for 38 companies in the DMZ.

“We’re so excited to be a new CDMN node. We believe in CDMN’s goal to connect Canada and enable small companies to grow,” said Val Fox, Executive Director at Ryerson DMZ.

Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the DMZ atmosphere reflects the energy of the city. To meet the demand to accommodate more entrepreneurs and start-ups, the DMZ recently expanded to three levels within its downtown hub. With 5,300 square feet of new workspace, creating a total of 16,400 square feet, the DMZ has almost tripled in size since it opened in 2010.

Those who join the DMZ are keen to take advantage of what the community has available including mentorships, business plan counseling, equipment, workshops, funding opportunities, exposure, and industry connections. Commercial enterprises benefit from this setup as well, turning to digital natives and technology pioneers for innovative solutions.

Here are recent DMZ startup success stories:

  • HitSend makers of SoapBox, builds web applications that empower communities to set and achieve collective goals. SoapBox is a community crowdsourcing tool for gathering, prioritizing, and executing ideas, and it integrates into existing online communities. The SoapBox technology is currently in use by Chapters/Indigo as part of its recently launched Indigo Ideas campaign for improving customer service. Ryerson University is also using Soapbox on its student portal to gather, prioritize and act on student suggestions. HitSend has five staff. HitSend CEO and founder Brennan McEachran spoke at CDMN Canada 3.0 2012 as a panelist in the Talent stream, during the session entitled “From Students to Startups: Developing Tomorrow’s Innovation Talent Today.”
  • Flybits is a Ryerson University research team operating within the Digital Media Zone. It is now a Canadian leader in context-aware computing. Flybits developed Toronto’s GO Transit’s first official mobile application, GO Mobile, together with GO Transit staff. The app was downloaded over 750,000 times in its first eight weeks. In December 2011, Flybits received a Golden-idea Award from Motorola for a context-aware application platform based on their Golden-i product, the world’s first hands-free and wireless headset computer developed by Flybits in collaboration between Motorola Solutions and Kopin. Flybits was also selected by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation as a top ten Canadian company to present at the Mobile World Congress in 2012, the largest mobile conference in the world. Flybits has 17 staff. Flybits CEO and founder Dr. Hossein Rahnama spoke at CDMN Canada 3.0 2012 as a panelist in the Productivity stream, during the session entitled “Entrepreneurship + Innovation = Success for Canadian Business.”
  • 500px is currently one of the hottest and fastest growing photography websites globally. It is a photographic community powered by creative people from around the world that lets users share, rate and discover inspiring photographs. The 500px iPad app is one of the top free photography apps in iTunes, and the company was voted the number one start-up in Toronto in January 2012 by Techvibes, Canada’s leading technology media property. 500px has 16 employees, and graduated from the Zone in December 2011.

We look forward to working more closely with Ryerson DMZ in the near future and sharing more success stories in the months to come. For more information on the DMZ, read a Q&A that took place at CDMN’s Canada 3.0 2012 Digital Media Forum with Val Fox, who shares her perspectives on confronting Canada’s ICT talent crunch.



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