8 Startups to Watch in 2018

Innovative startups in Hamilton and beyond were busy in 2017, a year marked by product launches, expansions, and prominent fundraises. This momentum is not stopping any time soon for our 8 startups to watch in 2018.

Check out some of the big things these companies accomplished in 2017—we can’t wait to see what they do next!

Aiva Labs

Aiva Labs

Aiva Labs Co-Founders Adnan Somani (L) and Sarosha Imtiaz

In September of 2017, ten innovative startups competed in Hamilton’s premier business competition, LiON’S LAIR. Over $180,000 in prizes was up for grabs. Grand prize winners Sarosha Imtiaz and Adnan Somani from Aiva Labs were the recipients of a jaw-dropping $79,000 in support! Since competing, the team has used the cash and prizes to make a big impact in Hamilton and beyond and have been featured in local media including Betakit, CHML, Cable 14, The Hamilton Spectator, and Biz Magazine.

Aiva Labs offers an easy-to-use marketing campaign builder that helps small businesses make a bigger impact with a limited budget. Through their digital platform, users can create pop-ups, conduct A/B testing, track analytics, and more.

In December, the team traveled to New York City with CDMN’s Soft Landing program to forge valuable new connections.

As 2018 continues, watch for this emerging startup to expand with customers across Canada and in the United States.


Dolled Up Desserts

Dolled Up Desserts

Dolled Up Desserts Founder and Chief Dessert Designer Katarina Poletto

Katarina Poletto is the Founder and Chief Dessert Designer of Dolled of Desserts. This homegrown baker is passionate about making healthy eating delicious. Her wholesale bakery offers gluten free and vegan treats and baking mixes. Dolled Up Desserts aims to empower those with dietary differences to conveniently enjoy dessert without sacrificing taste or nutrition.

In Hamilton, Katarina’s tasty treats are already making a big impact. In September, Dolled Up Desserts was the recipient of the Hamilton Award in the LiON’S LAIR competition. They also won the Platinum award from the Hamilton Spectator for Hamilton’s Best Vegan Food.

With award-winning mixes and treats, the Dolled Up Desserts team has been busy expanding their presence in retail stores across Ontario, including The Mustard Seed Co-Op, Goodness Me!, and Farm Boy.



GENE BluEprint

Gene Blueprint

The Gene Blueprint team at the 2017 LiON’S LAIR Awards Gala.

This health startup has been making a splash in Hamilton healthcare. They provide personalized fitness and nutrition solutions, utilizing genetic information to help users achieve their health and wellness goals faster, more cost effectively, and with longer lasting results. With their “Get Lean” Kit, the Gene Blueprint team is committed to making healthy living achievable.

President and Co-Founder Paul Mercante hopes to position Hamilton as a place to innovate in commercial genetics. In June of 2017, Gene Blueprint’s acceptance into the inaugural class of the HHS Innovation Exchange was the first step to making this dream a reality. In partnership with Hamilton Health Sciences and IBM, the team is addressing challenges that impact patient experience and health outcomes using cloud-enabled technology.

Gene Blueprint was also a top ten finalist in the LiON’S LAIR competition in September of 2017. In 2018, they will continue to optimize their products and innovate in their market.



GoWrench Auto

GoWrench Auto

GoWrench Auto Founder and CEO Joshua Lombardo-Bottema

GoWrench Auto is a mobile auto repair company that brings mechanics to your work or home to provide simple maintenance and complex repairs. GoWrench mechanics are certified provincially to carry out a variety of diagnostic services and repairs on most makes and models of vehicles.

2017 was exciting for the GoWrench team as they closed funding rounds and were recognized with some impressive awards. The team secured a $300,000 investment and plan to use it to take their solution across Canada and into the United States in 2018.

In May of 2017, they were recognized at the FirstOntario Credit Union 1Awards, an annual small business competition. GoWrench shared the prize of $150,000 in cash and in-kind services with two other recipients.

With extra cash and funding backing them, the team looks forward to a year ahead filled with rapid expansion.




In March of 2017, Innovation Factory hosted the Synapse Life Science Competition to showcase innovative health and life science companies. The competition helps to bring cutting-edge research out of the lab and into the market. InnovoGENE won the grand prize for their revolutionary system used to detect E. coli and other pathogens in recreational water supplies. Current methods of testing water are costly and require 24-72 hours to work. InnovoGENE’s unique “ANDzyme” platform cuts testing time down to one hour, putting public health and safety first.

After learning more about commercialization, marketing, and business through the Synapse competition, InnovoGENE has successfully completed testing of their first product in the summer of 2017. It is available for sale now on their website. Watch as they continue to expand in 2018!




Input Health

Patients and doctors can collaboratively manage care with InputHealth’s cloud-based platform

InputHealth has developed a comprehensive cloud based health platform referred to as the Collaborative Health Record which facilitates outcome driven interactions between healthcare providers and patients. In 2017, the team worked hard to establish important partnerships with hospitals and universities across Canada.

Most recently, the Government of Ontario announced the recipients of the 2017-18 Health Technologies Fund, and InputHealth was included. In partnership with the Lawson Health Research Institute, testing and evaluation of their cloud-based platform will be done to deliver remote care to young people with mental health disorders. In 2018, InputHealth will use the $395,000 awarded to carry out the project.




iugo Care (reliq health)

iugo health reliq health

iUGO Care: a powerful platform for remote patient monitoring and care

In April, the Government of Ontario announced funding for 15 new, exciting projects through their Health Technologies Fund (HTF). The fund supports the development of software and mobile devices which focus on the delivery of better home and community care. Among the companies chosen to participate was iUGO Care. iUGO received $100,000 in funding for improving diabetes care through real-time monitoring. Diabetes needs to be closely monitored and that can be a challenge for people living in remote areas of Ontario. iUGO connects patients with their health care team in real-time, allowing them to get care in their own homes.

Since the announcement of HTF, iUGO has done landmark work through their parent company, Reliq Health Technologies (Reliq). In August 2017, Reliq announced the go-live of iUGO Care with the Rio Grande Valley Health Alliance in McAllen, Texas, USA. At full deployment (in 2019) the project is expected to generate over $20 million USD in recurring annual revenue.




Nix Sensor Ltd.

Nix Color Sensor

The Nix Mini Color Sensor

Nix Sensor Ltd. makes digital colour sensors that can accurately capture any colour. Simply touch their device to any surface or object, and it will instantly give you the exact colour in RGB, CMYK, Lab, and specific paint colours from different brands.

2017 was an exciting year for this technology startup; their flagship product, the Nix Pro Color Sensor, won two prestigious awards for excellence in design.

The team also launched a new product last year, the Nix Mini Color Sensor. With the same functionality as the Nix Pro, the Nix Mini features a compact design and a more consumer-friendly price point of $99. In October 2017, the Nix Mini was also acknowledged at the 2018 German Design Awards for excellence in product design.

Nix Sensor Ltd. plans to build their profile as industry leaders in colour measurement and is on course for continued development. In the immediate future, Nix is ramping up production to meet the demand for low cost colour tools in the architectural coatings industry.


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