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Today in funding: Eavor Technologies, Foko Retail, Motion Gestures, Arolytics, Mogile Technologies

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Five Canadian tech startups, Eavor Technologies, Foko Retail, Motion Gestures, Arolytics, and Mogile Technologies, have recently secured financing to fuel their growth. Here’s the latest on who raised money, how much from whom, and what they plan to put the new funds toward.

Eavor Technologies secures $50.7 million CAD in financing

Calgary cleantech startup Eavor Technologies has secured $50.7 million CAD ($40 million USD) in funding as it looks to commercialize its geothermal power generation technology.

Investors include bp Ventures, the venture arm of oil and gas company BP; Chevron Technology Ventures; Temasek; BDC Capital; Eversource; and Vickers Venture Partners.

The startup, which was founded in 2017, touts its solution as “the world’s first truly scalable form of clean dispatchable power.” In 2019, the company received $6.7 million CAD from the Government of Canada, through Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program and Sustainable Development Technology Canada.

Foko Retail raises $3 million investment led by BDC Capital

Gatineau, Quebec-based retail communication software provider Foko Retail has raised $3 million in funding led by BDC Capital. The company also received funding from the Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED), local economic development agency ID Gatineau, and current shareholders.

Foko Retail has developed a mobile-first communication platform to support retailers’ frontline team communications and their tasks. Features span visual merchandising and marketing, communication, and store audits.

The SaaS startup, which was founded in 2013, currently serves over 60 retailers, including Whole Foods, New Balance, and CVS. Foko Retail plans to use the new capital to accelerate its domestic and international expansion, and fund research and development of existing products.

Motion Gestures announces $2.5 million CAD

Kitchener, Ontario-based artificial intelligence (AI) startup Motion Gestures has announced a $2.5 million CAD ($2 million USD) round of funding, which it classified as “pre-Series A.”

The investment follows a $1.65 million USD seed round Motion raised in 2018.

The most recent round was led by investor Allen Miner, who helped build Oracle Japan and Salesforce Japan. The company plans to use the money to market and support its software in “major developed economies,” with a particular focus on Japan.

The company, which was founded in 2017, develops AI-based software for third-party cameras, and specializes in hand tracking and gesture recognition. Following several years of development in stealth, Motion Gestures first launched its camera software last year and claims it has already been well-received in the United States, Germany, Japan, and Korea.

Arolytics closes $710,000 CAD seed round

Calgary cleantech startup Arolytics, which provides emissions management software, has closed a $710,000 seed round. It plans to use the new capital to scale. The funding came from a pool of mostly Alberta-based investors, including M-Tech Innovations and Metiquity Ventures, as well as a convertible note from Volta Investments.

The startup’s software leverages data and analytics to optimize emission reduction opportunities for oil and gas producers. As part of the round, representatives from M-Tech and Metiquity will join Arolytics’ board of directors.

Last year was a busy one for the startup. In 2020, Arolytics graduated from Creative Destruction Lab, launched its AROviz software, doubled the size of its team, and began commercializing its products and services. Given new regulations and increasing environment, social and governance (ESG) pressure, the company feels it is well-positioned to help oil and gas firms meet their reduction targets.

Mogile Technologies raises $23,689 CAD from federal government

Pointe-Claire, Quebec-based Mogile Technologies, which provides electric vehicle (EV) research software, has raised $23,689 from the Government of Canada, through Natural Resources Canada’s Zero-Emission Vehicle Awareness Initiative.

The company received the capital for a project it is working on, and, coupled with Mogile’s own investment, the federal funding brings the total cost of the project to $47,379.

The startup, which was founded in 2013, aims to give auto dealers and buyers greater access to up-to-date information on EVs. Its software lets prospective EV buyers browse models, the cost of home charging stations, maps of public chargers, and applicable rebates. According to the federal government, over 10,000 interactions have taken place on the company’s platform to date, and an undisclosed national automaker has already partnered with Mogile to deploy its software.

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The ‘Maple Majestic’ wants to be Canada’s homegrown Tesla

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Look out Tesla, Canada has a homegrown electric sedan on the way. Well, that’s if AK International Motor Corporation can drum up enough investment to make its EV a reality. Dubbed the “Maple Majestic,” the vehicle is a battery-electric designed to “excel in extreme climate performance without adversely affecting the climate, as befits a vehicle from Canada,” according to its website.

What’s in a name? — The company says the maple leaf is a “symbol of Canada’s warmth and friendliness towards all cultures,” while “majestic” refers to the country’s “status as a Constitutional Monarchy.”

That patriotism carries over into Maple Majestic’s parent company’s lofty goals. AK Motor founder Arkadiusz Kaminski says he wants the company, which he founded in 2012, to become “Canada’s first multi-brand automotive OEM,” and that the “Maple Majestic is intended to be Canada’s flagship brand of automobiles on the world stage.”

Partnerships are key — “We acknowledge that the best chance for the Maple Majestic brand to succeed, lies in continuing to build the relationship with Canada’s parts suppliers and technological innovators, whether they be academic institutions, corporations, or individual inventors,” the company explains. “We are currently seeking partners in automotive engineering, parts manufacturing, automotive assembly, electric propulsion technology, battery technology, autonomous technology, and hybrid power generation technology.”

In other words, don’t expect to be able to buy a Maple Majestic any time soon… and don’t expect to pour over 0-60 mph times, power output, range, or other key stats, because those don’t currently exist. For now, all we have are pictures and a short video clip. But at least those are arresting.

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PE-backed Quorum Software to merge with Canadian energy tech firm

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Houston-based energy technology company Quorum Software will merge with a Canadian tech firm to bolster its presence in oil and gas services.

Quorum announced Feb. 15 it plans to merge with Calgary, Alberta-based Aucerna, a global provider of planning, execution and reserves software for the energy sector. The combined firm will operate under the Quorum Software brand.

Gene Austin, CEO of Quorum Software, will continue in his capacity as chief executive of the combined firm. Austin, former CEO of Austin-based marketing tech firm Bazaarvoice Inc., became CEO of Quorum in December 2018.

Aucerna co-founder and CEO Wayne Sim will be appointed to the Quorum Software board of directors. Both companies are backed by San Francisco- and Chicago-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

“Over the last 20 years, Quorum has become the leading innovator of software deployed by North American energy companies,” said Austin. “Today, Quorum is expanding the scope of our technology and expertise to all energy-producing regions of the globe. Customers everywhere will have access to a cloud technology ecosystem that connects decision-ready data from operations to the boardroom.”

In addition to the merger announcement, Quorum Software announced it had entered into an agreement with Finnish IT firm TietoEvry to purchase TietoEvry’s entire oil and gas business. The agreement, which includes hydrocarbon management, personnel and material logistics software and related services, is valued at 155 million euros, or $188 million, according to a statement from TietoEvry.

“Our three organizations complement each other — from the software that our great people design to the energy markets where we operate,” said Sim. “Our new company will be able to deliver value to our stakeholders, while accelerating the growth of our combined business and the energy industry’s software transformation.”

The combined company will serve over 1,800 energy companies in 55 countries, according to the announcement. With its headquarters in Houston, Quorum will continue to have a significant presence in Calgary and in Norway, the headquarters for TietoEvry’s oil and gas software business. Quorum will have other offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

As of Sept. 30, 2020, private equity firm Thoma Bravo had more than $73 billion in assets under management. In late December 2020, Thoma Bravo agreed to acquire Richardson, Texas-based tech firm RealPage in a roughly $10 billion acquisition.

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Piece of Kitchener technology lands on Mars on Perseverance rover

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KITCHENER — A piece of Kitchener technology has landed on Mars, thanks to NASA’s Perseverance rover.

The rover settled on the planet’s surface on Thursday afternoon. It’s been travelling through space since it was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. in July.

“The whole idea of being on a device that we’re sending to another plant with the express mission of looking for traces of past life, it’s pretty mind boggling actually,” said Rafal Pawluczyk, chief technical officer for FiberTech Optica.

The Kitchener-based company made fibre optic cables for the rover’s SuperCam that will examine samples with a camera, laser and spectrometers.

“The cables that we built take the light from that multiplexer and deliver it to each spectrograph,” Pawluczyk said.

The cables connect a device on the rover to the SuperCam, which will be used to examine rock and soil samples, to spectrometers. They’ll relay information from one device to another.

The project started four years ago with a connection to Los Alamos National Lab, where the instruments connected to the cables were developed.

“We could actually demonstrate we can design something that will meet their really hard engineering requirements,” Pawluczyk said.

The Jezero Crater is where the Perseverance rover, with FiberTech Optica’s technology onboard, landed Thursday. Scientists believe it was once flooded with water and is the best bet for finding any evidence of life. FiberTech’s cables will help that in that search.

Ioannis Haranas, an astrophysicist and professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the rover isn’t looking for “green men.”

“They’re looking for microbial, single-cell life, any type of fossils and stuff like that,” Haranas said. “That’s why they chose a special landing site. This could be very fertile land for that.”

“It’s very ambitious,” said Ralf Gellert, a physics professor at the University of Guelph.

Gellert helped with previous rover missions and said it’s the first time a Mars rover has landed without a piece of Guelph technology on it. While he’s not part of Perseverance’s mission, he said the possibilities are exciting.

“Every new landing site is a new piece of the puzzle that you can put together with the new results that we have from the other landing sites,” he said.

“It’s scientifically very interesting because, even though we don’t have an instrument on that rover, we can compare what the new rover Perseverance finds at this new landing site,” he said.

Now that Perseverance has landed on Mars, FiberTech is looking ahead to its next possible mission into space.

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