Hamilton’s deep tech entrepreneurs get big boost with McMaster, Silicon Valley alliance


Published March 6, 2024 at 9:18 am

McMaster University

Deep tech innovations at Hamilton’s McMaster University got a major boost this week with a new partnership between the school and Silicon Valley technology venture capital firm Celesta Capital.

The deal with Celesta Capital, which already has more than 100 early-stage technology investments in its portfolio, will allow the university to tap into Celesta’s expertise and accelerate the commercialization of deep tech – cutting-edge technologies built on science and engineering innovations – developed by McMaster researchers.

McMaster President David Farrar says the collaboration will also help the university move its research out of its lab and into the hands of those who can put it to work out in the world.

“This partnership with Celesta Capital allows us to combine our research, talent, and intellectual property with their entrepreneurial expertise and vast network of investors to create companies that benefit both the Canadian economy and broader society.”

Nicholas Brathwaite, the founding managing partner of Celesta Capital and a McMaster alumnus, says he’s excited to embark on this venture with McMaster, with a long-term goal to foster a vibrant deep tech ecosystem in Canada.

“It is a great honor to establish this partnership and build upon the strength of a renowned research institution. We believe Celesta will add tremendous value to McMaster’s budding entrepreneurs, helping to nurture their innovations into successful companies and supporting them with investment, intellectual capital, network connections, and more.”

Celesta will support McMaster-affiliated startups and researchers in commercializing their intellectual property. They will also help bump up opportunities between the technology and venture capital hubs of Canada, Silicon Valley, India and beyond and spur the development of an emerging and sustainable ecosystem of Canadian deep tech entrepreneurs.

Key initiatives include access to emerging companies, co-judged pitch competitions, mentorship for entrepreneurs, ecosystem development and advice on intellectual property strategies and invention optimization.

Andy Knights, McMaster’s Vice-president of Research, says this is a new model of cooperation between a venture capital fund – whose stated goal is company building – and a public sector university.

“It’s a big win, not only in terms of financial support for our start-up companies, but the enormous benefits that come through mentorship opportunities. I can see the potential to roll out similar programming across the country which would be benefit the whole university sector.”

The collaboration was announced at the Partnering to Accelerate Deep Tech Commercialization in Canada forum, held at McMaster Innovation Park, attracting some 100 industry, investment, academic and government leaders.

Leyla Soleymani, associate vice-president, research (Commercialization & Entrepreneurship), who is leading the partnership initiative, says it will be game changing for McMaster researchers engaged in deep tech.

“Celesta can really open doors for McMaster entrepreneurs, offering that critical next step for researchers pursuing commercialization and building on our existing support services and programs led by the Office of the Vice-President, Research and McMaster Industry Liaison Office,” she says.

The first wave of initiatives will include the joint judging of a pitch competition next month at McMaster, followed by an entrepreneurship residency in Silicon Valley and a co-hosted advisory summit for McMaster researchers and entrepreneurs focused on intellectual property development.



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