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Smart mobility innovators here's your chance! OVIN Demonstration Zone challenges launch in Markham and Vaughan

It is no secret that the way people and goods move is changing. From the transition to hybrid or fully-electric cars to better the environment or drone delivery to support hospital capacity, there is no shortage of examples of ways innovation is propelling sustainability in our communities and moving us forward.

York Region is where talent and opportunity intersect, and opportunity has come knocking for smart mobility innovators with an invitation by the City of Markham and the City of Vaughan to help solve transportation challenges.

This invitation stems from an earlier Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) announcement of a $7.3M Demonstration Zone that will allow access to small and medium-sized enterprises to test, pilot, and showcase innovations, such as electric vehicle advancements, integrated mobility solutions, robotics including service and food movement robots, smart traffic, and autonomous vehicle technologies in the real-world environments around Markham Centre and the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

What are the transportation challenges that need solving?

There will be multiple rounds of challenges over the next few years of this initiative, but the first round is now open with two specific areas of focus for developing solutions to first and last mile problems in the Markham OVIN Demonstration Zone and cycle lane maintenance in the Vaughan OVIN Demonstration Zone.

Homes with last mile deliver lines

First and Last Mile Solutions

Transit stops provide transportation to high traffic locations, which leaves commuters to find their own way for the first or last leg of their trip. With the walk from Unionville Go station or York University campus to businesses and amenities in Markham Centre clocking in at around 30 minutes, this prevents local businesses from generating additional income from transit-oriented visitors and prevents visitors from enjoying all that their community has to offer.

If you have a software or hardware solution you think fits the bill to solve this challenge:

The application deadline for this challenge closes on February 12, 2024.

Bike Lane

Cycle Lane Maintenance Innovation

We all know that cycling is a healthy activity with many benefits for your body, wallet, and the environment. Since installing new dedicated cycling lanes in Vaughan on Clark Avenue, preliminary data suggests there is a 60% increase in people cycling on that road, showing this is a viable and important mode of transportation for residents. To keep these cycling lanes safe, frequent maintenance like street sweeping and snow clearing is needed.

If you have a road maintenance solution, which could include autonomous, electric, or other innovative approaches:

The application deadline for this challenge closes on January 29, 2024.

Cars on a road with tech overlayed

OVIN Demonstration Zone – General Open Call Stream

If you have a smart mobility innovation that does not align with the challenges outlined in this round, you can express your interest to access the OVIN Demonstration Zone and resources under the General Open Call Stream. Submissions will be accepted from companies within Ontario, Canada, and beyond.

If you are an international company, consider submitting your application to the OVIN Demonstration Zone. There are a number of soft-landing locations that would let you expand into Canada’s largest independent auto parts and electronics manufacturing cluster and leading associated tech cluster, York Region. From here you can then tap into the OVIN Demonstration Zones (if accepted) and many other innovation assets in the area. The Region is a natural fit for smart mobility innovators.

Partners for OVIN Demonstration Zone include industry heavy hitters like Honda, AMD, IBM and Qualcomm

This first round of challenges is a great opportunity for SMEs to not only access facilities to showcase their solutions but tap into other benefits. This Demonstration Zone brings together a wide variety of heavy hitters, that in combination could be key to a company fine-tuning their innovations to fast-track commercialization and open up opportunities for new clients or collaborative partners.

Industry leaders that are key partners for this project include SmartCentres, Rogers Communications, Syntronic, Honda Canada, AMD, IBM, Qualcomm, Microart Services, Remington Group, PSP Services, York Region, York Region Transit, Toronto Transit Commission, York University, Alectra, and Seneca HELIX.

Markham and Vaughan

Markham and Vaughan use collective strength to support SMEs

Markham and Vaughan are working closely together leveraging their collective strengths in automotive and technology to deliver an asset to the Greater Toronto Area that will best support SMEs. Both the municipal and provincial governments supported this initiative by allocating direct funding and investing in the region’s booming autotech industry. Significant efforts and investments like this from government to industry show local and international companies that our business environment is sustainable and growing, with opportunity for businesses to capitalize on that growth and support.

Are you ready for the challenge? Find out more about how to apply for round one here: Driving Innovations – OVIN Demonstration Zone.

Want to know more about York Region’s Autotech ecosystem? Explore our autotech and auto parts sector.