Alumna Rina Carlini helps entrepreneurs and startups bring their inventions into the real world

Putting science and tech to work

Alumna Rina Carlini helps entrepreneurs and startups bring their inventions into the real world
Posted on July 19, 2017
By: Vanessa Bonneau

Sometimes great scientific ideas need a little help getting into commercial markets.

That’s where Rina Carlini, BSc (chem.) 93, CEO and president of Haltech Regional Innovation Centre, comes in.

Rina Carlini

Based in Oakville, Ont., Haltech supports entrepreneurs and tech startups in Ontario’s Halton Region west of Toronto with free business advice and mentorship to help them monetize their technological innovations, raise investment capital and accelerate the growth of their businesses.

“How do you get a product in the marketplace? It may be important for science and technology, but can you make it important for a consumer?” These are the kind of questions Carlini helps her clients figure out the answers to.

Haltech: Regional tech innovation

A member of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs, Haltech is one of 17 such non-profit centres that support entrepreneurs and tech companies in the province.

Haltech is run by a staff of six including Carlini, as well as six part-time Entrepreneurs-in-Residence who also have their own successful businesses, and a network of volunteer mentors who come from companies like Microsoft and Bell.

“These people are like coaches who want to pay it forward,” says Carlini. “They take part out of interest to share advice about their entrepreneurial experience; they like what we do and want to be a part of it.”

Haltech isn’t operating alone. “Every institution that’s part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs is working to build one of the best startup ecosystems in the world,” she says. “Silicon Valley is paying attention to this part of the world.”

Carlini knows she’s doing her job right when she hears back from her clients with success stories: “‘We won entrepreneur of the year!’ they write to me. How spectacular is that? Whatever we can do to contribute to their success, I’m thrilled.”

Concordia Co-op experience

The quality of service Haltech provides is inspired by Carlini’s time at Concordia.

“The kind of personalized attention I give my clients is what I first experienced myself at Concordia’s Co-op program in chemistry,” she says. “Haltech’s service is a big part of our success. You attract quality clients if you give quality personalized service.”

Although it was extremely demanding, Carlini thrived in the chemistry Co-op program. In addition to maintaining an A average, students had to complete four work terms.

“Working cemented the chemistry subject matter in my head,” she says. “I could practice what I had just learned in class in real life — you just can’t learn it any better than that.”

Through her work terms, she built a professional network made up of scientists, engineers and business leaders who, alongside her professors, helped her determine the right career path.

“The program was well structured and we were tremendously supported,” says Carlini. “Professors called you by name from year one at Concordia.”

Carlini’s professors obviously appreciated her early research skills. After working on an undergraduate research project with Ann English, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Concordia University Research Chair, English nominated Carlini for the 2017 NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Centennial Scholarship for Doctoral Studies.

Carlini was one of four students at Concordia — from a total of 55 in Canada that year — who received the NSERC scholarship in 1993.

With the scholarship, Carlini could get into any PhD program she wanted, including in the United States or abroad. Ultimately, she chose to study synthetic organic chemistry at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

“The scholarship changed everything,” says Carlini. “Had the university not chosen to nominate me, I might not have continued to pursue this career path.”

Research and consulting

Rina Carlini and Ann English

As an industrial research and development scientist, Carlini spent 14 years at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada in Mississauga, Ont.

“I grew up professionally there,” says Carlini. It’s where she discovered her passion for finding and developing real-life applications for scientific products.

In her role as Xerox principal, the highest level on the technical ladder, she set the company’s research and development strategy and invented more than 100 patents.

At the culmination of her time at Xerox, Carlini was honoured with the 2012 Clara Benson Award from the Canadian Society for Chemistry, which is given to a female scientist who has made a distinguished contribution to her field in Canada.

In 2012 founded Optimal Science Consulting. With her years of experience in tech development and commercialization, businesses were eager to tap into her knowledge base.

Carlini has stayed in touch with her mentor, Ann English, through the Canadian Society for Chemistry, and they continue to support one another in many ways. Carlini supported the successful nomination of English for the 2017 Clara Benson Award.

“She’s done so much for the society, for Concordia and for me — she’s an outstanding scientific leader and mentor,” says Carlini.

In addition to her tireless work for entrepreneurs, Carlini makes time to volunteer as a board member for organizations like the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology and Nano Ontario. Even today women are a minority in the science and technology world, which is why she also gives career development talks to graduates in chemistry and science.

How does she fit it all in? Carlini says, “You make time for the things you care about.”

Original Post by: Concordia University

Helping Tech Companies Grow And Scale: Look To Ontario’s Regional Innovation Centres

When Canadian tech companies scale up, the challenges they face can seem sky high.

They must make sure there’s a big enough market for their idea, find those customers, recruit skilled employees, and raise enough money to fund growth of the business. Many would benefit from the advice of experienced entrepreneurs to help navigate these issues and accelerate growth.

That’s where business accelerators like Haltech Regional Innovation Centre comes in. A non-profit member of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) organization and funded by the Ontario government, Haltech is one of 18 regional innovation centres across the province. With a new main office at TechPlace in Burlington and a community office at the Milton Innovation Centre, Haltech works with tech companies in Halton Region and across the GTA who are looking to accelerate innovation and grow their business.

Regional innovation centres (RICs)

Haltech offers a number of free services to companies that qualify. Its services include advising on raising capital, funding grants, sales and marketing to hiring skilled talent, market research, and business mentorship. In the past five years, Haltech has supported over 700 tech companies, as well as organized pitch exhibitions, networking events, and many learning workshops for entrepreneurs.

“Haltech also helps companies access much-needed early-stage funding from government funding grants, angels, and VC investment,” says Haltech President and CEO Rina Carlini.

The Haltech team includes five entrepreneurs-in-residence and many volunteer startup mentors, all of whom are experienced entrepreneurs or business executives at other tech companies. The team is supporting a portfolio of 120+ tech companies, which are mainly startups and growth companies who are ready to scale.

“In the past year alone, our portfolio companies have secured over $750,000 in government grants and over $6 million dollars in private sector investment,” says Carlini, adding that their growth helped create 110 new jobs.

Helping companies get off the ground

When The Sky Guys was introduced to Haltech, the Oakville-based drone technology company had 10 employees. The Sky Guys has since doubled that number, and anticipates re-doubling it again by the end of 2017, according to the company’s President and CEO, Adam Sax.

The company deploys state-of-the-art drone technology to capture data and solve problems for their clients, from photos and video used in real estate marketing to unmanned inspection of assets like flare stacks, pipelines and cell towers, to creating fully 3D models of land and infrastructure used for surveying.

Since being founded in early 2015, The Sky Guys has grown nationally and abroad, serving over 600 clients such as General Motors, Samsung, Shell, CBRE, Canada Post, Nike, and Sportsnet.

The Sky Guys’ research and development arm, Defiant Labs, is working on an unmanned aerial vehicle they’re calling the DX-3, which can potentially fly its sensors and high-resolution cameras over a range of 1,800 kilometres and use artificial intelligence to produce real-time analytics. The DX-3 will take off vertically — no need for a runway.

Today, The Sky Guys sends out drones that cover 70 percent of the GTA’s real estate developments. Not bad for a company with its origins, like so many tech startups, in the founder’s apartment.

Haltech’s free advisory support — in particular, advocating The Sky Guys to investors, industry collaborators, government funding agencies, and national innovation awards — has been instrumental in growing the company, according to Sax.

“It’s been like having a sales force working for us with no strings attached,” he says. Haltech helped The Sky Guys obtain millions of dollars in external funding and offered thousands of dollars of free market research, as well as online exposure and introductions to prospective business partners and investors. With Haltech’s help, The Sky Guys was able to capitalize on a “first mover advantage,” and now the majority of drones flying overhead in Canada were sent into the air by The Sky Guys.


Original post by: The National Post via Mediaplanet Canada

Disruptive interest rate marketplace empowers the consumer

Consumers get the most competitive interest rates by asking financial providers to bid for their business.
Disruptive interest rate marketplace empowers the consumer.

TORONTO, ON, May 24, 2017 – Getting the most competitive interest rate and finding the right financial provider becomes easier thanks to, a new online interest rate marketplace that empowers consumers to find the best rates for their mortgages, savings, loans or GICs.

“With a steady rise in interest rates, consumers will be looking for the best deal to purchase a home, apply for loans, or even set up a savings account,” says Manny Kandola, founder and CEO of “This new platform saves consumers time and allows them to connect with multiple financial providers, so they’re left feeling confident that they’ve received the best possible rate available.”

There is no charge for consumers to sign up on and input their requirements on the platform. Their posting is immediately delivered to a network of providers including banks, credit unions, alternative lenders and brokers who put forward competitive interest rates. Consumers also have the option of inviting their current financial provider to join the competition.

The identity and contact information of both consumers and providers is masked during the 48 to 72-hour timeframe, with information shared only after the competition closes and a match is made. With a competitive rate established, providers and consumers simply connect to finalize the deal.

For financial providers, InterestPiggy becomes a tactical sales tool that can widen their scope of new clients.

As an added feature, InterestPiggy has a two-way rating system that enables both consumers and providers to learn from their peers’ previous experiences.


InterestPiggy is a Toronto-based FinTech company dedicated to revolutionizing the process of shopping for financial products. Visit for more details.


Contact: Priya Ramsingh – 416-880-8781

Econse awarded funding to pilot its BRU CLEAN commercial scale wastewater treatment system designed for craft breweries.

Econse awarded funding to pilot its BRU CLEAN commercial scale wastewater treatment system designed for craft breweries.

May 8, 2017
Sarnia, Ontario


Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) is pleased to announce its support of Econse Water Purification Systems (Econse) project by awarding funding through BIC’s Centre for Commercialization of Sustainable Chemistry Innovation (COMM SCI) program. The funding will help Econse build and test the first commercial scale version of their BRÜ CLEAN system for craft brewery wastewater treatment.  This first unit will be installed at Sawdust City Brewing Company in Gravenhurst, Ontario.

The project was enabled through a collaborative partnership effort that included Haltech Regional Innovation Centre, which operates in Halton region with community offices in Oakville, Burlington and Milton, Ontario; the Bloom Centre which is located in Oakville, Ontario; and Innovation Guelph, based in Guelph, Ontario.  Econse is supported by both Haltech and Innovation Guelph with free business advising service programs, and Haltech Entrepreneur-in-Residence Wayne Maddever and CEO Rina Carlini facilitated the opportunity with BIC. The Bloom Centre will be providing a third party case study on the project as well as assisting with a showcase event at Sawdust City upon completion.

Derek Davy, Business Development at Econse said, “We sincerely appreciate the support from both Haltech and Bioindustrial Innovation Canada.  Their mentorship and financial assistance has helped us to expedite the commercialization of our product.  The work of the Bloom Centre in studying our project and providing a showcase at Sawdust City will assist us in promoting the value of the BRÜ CLEAN system to the craft brewing industry.”

Sandy Marshall, Executive Director BIC was quoted, “BIC is very excited to work with Haltech and Bloom to support an emerging sustainable chemistry technology company in Southern Ontario. Resolving water quality challenges is an important priority in Ontario and we are proud to be part of the solution.”

About Econse:
Econse manufactures decentralized water & wastewater purification systems for niche industries.  We provide chemical free plug and play solutions, specifically branded to reach our targeted customers. The BRÜ CLEAN System was developed by ECONSE to help Craft Brewers with affordable, on-site wastewater treatment.

About Bioindustrial Innovation Canada: 

Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) is a nationally focused not-for-profit organization based in Sarnia, Ontario. The Centre for Commercialization of Sustainable Chemistry Innovation (COMM SCI) acts as a hub for the commercialization of sustainable chemistry and bio-based innovation, providing businesses and technical support to participating small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in southern Ontario.  COMM SCI was established with support from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario’s (FedDev Ontario) initiative. BIC is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science.  Bioindustrial Innovation Canada creates jobs and economic value sustainably for Canada. We provide critical strategic investment, advice and services to business developers of clean, green and sustainable technologies. Our expertise in commercialization builds a stronger Canada. For more information, visit


About Haltech:     

Haltech is at the nexus of Halton Region’s innovation ecosystem, working with technology companies to accelerate innovation for business growth. As a member of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) since 2012, Haltech has assisted nearly 700 tech entrepreneurs and small businesses with free business innovation advising services through their Haltech HEAT™ program, to develop and transform good ideas and product innovations into well positioned, growing ventures. Haltech is a non-profit organization supported by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development & Growth, the Ministry of Research, Innovation & Science, the MaRS Business Acceleration Program, and contributions from corporate sponsors and community members.

About Bloom Centre:  The Bloom Centre mission is to bring together public and private sector stakeholders to achieve sustainable outcomes that manage risk and deliver economic, environmental and social benefit.

About Innovation Guelph:

Innovation Guelph helps innovative enterprises start, grow and thrive by providing mentorship and an integrated suite of business support programs and services. Innovation Guelph’s novel business acceleration programs – including Speedway, Fast Lane, Fuel Injection, Rhyze™ for women entrepreneurs, and BCorp Bootcamp – are designed for high-potential start-ups and SMEs that are ready to scale.


Media Inquiries:

Julia Struyf,
Marketing and Communications Coordinator,
Bioindustrial Innovation Canada
Tel: 226.778.0020 ext. 249



Haltech and Halton Region Small Business Centre are Open for Business at the MEV Innovation Centre

On Thursday, March 30, an ‘Open for Business’ event was held at the Milton Education Village (MEV) Innovation Centre to officially open the new Haltech Regional Innovation Centre and Halton Region Small Business Centre partner offices.“The ‘Open for Business’ event marks an important milestone for Milton’s innovation ecosystem in support of entrepreneurship,” said Milton Mayor Gord Krantz. “Milton’s partnership with Halton Region and Haltech at the MEV Innovation Centre provides the community with a comprehensive collection of services supporting small business growth.”

Haltech Regional Innovation Centre and Halton Region Small Business Centre welcomed more than 100 guests, stakeholders, and partners from Wilfrid Laurier University for the official ribbon cutting. A line-up of speakers followed, including local Centricity360 business owner Richard Bolton, who spoke to Milton’s central location within the Toronto-Waterloo Innovation corridor, a global centre of talent, growth, technology and discovery.

John Davidson, Halton Region’s Director of Economic Development and Rina Carlini, CEO & President of Haltech Regional Innovation Centre provided an overview of their services, with Haltech companies Enable Education, Acadiate, and TimeSaved sharing their success stories.

A networking reception followed, where guests had the opportunity to meet local start-up companies and learn more about their businesses through a small tradeshow. In addition, Arts Milton led an interactive demonstration where guests created a mural themed on the intersection of arts and creativity in innovation.

The MEV Innovation Centre is a dynamic work environment that fosters collaboration and inspiration, access to business services, entrepreneurial programming, and provides linkages to Wilfrid Laurier University. To learn more about services offered, visit


Original Post by: Town of Milton 


Haltech is at the nexus of Halton Region’s innovation ecosystem, helping technology entrepreneurs transform their good ideas and product innovations into well-positioned, growing ventures. Haltech is a non-profit technology accelerator and member of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) supported by Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development & Growth, Ministry of Research, Innovation & Science and many corporate sponsors and partners. Since it began operations in 2011, Haltech has provided advisory services to more than 650 tech startups with a wide range of free services including business innovation advising, entrepreneur skill workshops and corporate innovation projects.

Whether you are starting, accelerating or scaling up your tech business, Haltech has the right program for you. Haltech HEAT™ is a free program designed for startups who seek business advising and mentorship for commercialization. Entrepreneurs will learn valuable skills from Haltech’s team of Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIR) and business consultants on how to enter the market, acquire customers, and generate revenues. For high-growth ventures who seek advice to scale up successfully for business growth, Haltech’s SCALEUP program offers CEOs a customized coaching experience from Haltech’s team of technology business executives and EIR advisors that will help them overcome the common pitfalls of scaling a business.

Strategically positioned within the Innovation Corridor

Haltech is strategically positioned halfway between Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo, in what many refer to as the Innovation Corridor, a thriving economic region of high-growth tech companies and innovative startups that has gained global attention as a model ecosystem to cultivate entrepreneurs and innovation.

Innovation is thriving in Halton with collaborative coworking centres

Haltech President & CEO, Dr. Rina Carlini, pointed out that tech innovation in Halton is thriving, and now is the best time for entrepreneurs to seek out the region’s many business support programs, professional services firms and commercial real estate opportunities. Several new coworking offices and innovation centres have opened up recently, including the MEV Innovation Centre in Milton, and the new Burlington Innovation Centre that will open its doors by mid-2017. Both of these municipal innovation hubs offer cool collaborative workspaces for innovative tech companies, scale ups, investors and business accelerators like Haltech to connect, collaborate and develop new ideas into growing ventures. Haltech engages with many companies and partner organizations to deliver premium-quality events and workshops for tech entrepreneurs and innovators – don’t miss the 2017 Halton FUTURES Innovation Summit & Awards, a signature event to witness what’s next in Halton. We hope to see you there!

Learn more about Haltech’s accelerator programs and community events at , or contact and let us know how we can assist you.


Original Post by: Perspective Oakville

Haltech Showcases Young Entrepreneurs at Halton’s First BYOB Challenge

A myriad of career paths exist for young professionals today, and for those who choose entrepreneurship, the path can be both daunting and rewarding. For this reason, Haltech decided to launch a new and exciting business plan competition, called Build Your Own Business (BYOB) Challenge specifically for young entrepreneurs and students residing in Halton Region. The competition began with a business plan submission in January and culminated on Thursday February 23, 2017 with a with a final pitch event that was hosted at Sheridan College’s Oakville campus in the Marquee Club. The event  featured 6 finalists unleashing their creativity as they pitched their business idea to a large crowd, competing for cash and in-kind prizes valued at over $20,000.

The Grand Prize winner of the BYOB Challenge was ToolLinked, a Burlington-based tech startup with a mission to rebuild the manufacturing community in Canada, one tool at a time. Lead by co-founder Ana Morales, this team from DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University has developed an online platform to connect manufacturers & toolmakers and enable them to collaborate on new manufacturing business opportunities. The team had submitted a well-structured business plan and a solid pitch, earning them the first place spot with $13,000 value of cash and in-kind professional services from Haltech and partners across Halton region.

Healthy Pets, an Oakville based veterinary tech startup secured the Runner Up award with a passionate pitch delivered by founder Emma Harris, with support of Bo, her pet Golden Retriever and Chief Inspiration Officer. The startup wants to revolutionize the way Canadian pet owners access veterinary care with an 24/7 online video consultation service with licensed veterinarians. Healthy Pets not only earned a prize valued at $7,000 in cash and in-kind professional services, but also won the online vote for People’s Choice Award at the pitch finale event.

Haltech was delighted to partner with Sheridan College to present the BYOB Challenge this year, which was made possible by the valuable prize contributions from event sponsors including SB Partners LLP, FreshInsights Consulting and O’Connor MacLeod Hanna LLP, as well as the expertise of the judging panel: Marybeth Edge (BDC),   Blair Patton (Dan Lawrie Insurance Brokers), Frank McKeown (Burlington Economic Development Corporation), Judy Lindenbach (Haltech Entrepreneur-in-Residence), Wayne Maddever (Haltech Entrepreneur-in-Residence).

“This was a fun and exciting business plan competition that showcased the talent and creativity of Halton’s own young tech entrepreneurs. We hope that this becomes an annual celebration of creative entrepreneurial ideas to continue on with the support of our many partners across Halton region”, said Rina Carlini, President & CEO of Haltech Regional Innovation Centre.


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