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The crowd at the 71st APMA Annual Conference

York Region’s auto parts and autotech sector revs up with the APMA Conference and OVIN Demonstration Zones

York Region Economic Development was out in full force at the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’​ Association (APMA) 71st Annual Conference on September 26th as title sponsor, alongside the City of Vaughan to promote our thriving auto sector.

This annual event brought together the automotive industry’s best to drive forward innovation and collaboration in the automotive and automotive technology sector. With an incredible lineup of industry panels, fireside chats, and a multiple race winning F1 driver in Jimmy Howard, the audience were engaged throughout the day in the future direction of the auto parts sector, the transition to EVs, insider stories from the world of F1 racing, and more.

Justin Trudeau and Flavio VolpeOntario and Canada’s automotive industry has seen an amazing run of large-scale investments with 6 of the top 7 global automakers doubling down and investing over $26 billion in the country over the last few years. York Region’s automotive sector stands to play a crucial role in the supply chain and tech side of these massive investments, which will create quality jobs and business opportunities. These investments were touted by both the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Ontario during their surprise visits to the APMA Conference.

Midway through the conference an exciting announcement was made about the future of the conference. In a video address to the audience, it was announced by Vaughan Mayor, Steven Del Duca, that it will be hosted in York Region’s City of Vaughan for the next three years, beginning in 2024!

Why was Vaughan the location of choice? Look no further than who was in the room at the conference. York Region-based multinational powerhouses like Magna, Martinrea, and Exco, as well as growing companies like Flexcell Automation, Axiom Group, and others. All of them are headquartered in York Region, which is Canada’s largest independent automotive parts and electronics manufacturing cluster with over 250 core-sector companies, making it a natural fit as a destination for this leading auto parts focused conference.

An industry in transition towards 100% zero-emission vehicles

APMA Project Arrow

In the automotive industry, innovation is key for success, and definitely needed to achieve the federal mandate of 100% zero-emission vehicle sales in Canada by 2035. A transition to hybrid, fully electric vehicles, and other smart mobility solutions is the way of the very near future and was a hot discussion at this year’s APMA conference. Project Arrow – an all-electric concept SUV – is a showcase of innovation created by Canadian auto parts companies that can have a role in the transition to electric mobility.

Two professionals having a conversation in front of Project ArrowYork Region is aiming to be a leading destination for companies focused on developing solutions for this transition from internal combustion engines to battery electric vehicle related technology. The Region has new assets in our ecosystem to support emerging companies with fresh ideas around smart mobility including the recently announced OVIN demonstration zones in the cities Markham and Vaughan.

OVIN demonstration zones to provide a real-world testing ground for new automotive technology

OVIN announcement in JulyThe Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN), in partnership with the City of Markham and the City of Vaughan, is launching a new $7.3M OVIN Demonstration Zone, which will serve as a platform for small and medium-sized enterprises in the province to test, pilot, and showcase innovations, such as electric vehicle advancements, integrated mobility solutions, robotics, and connected and autonomous vehicle technologies in the real-world environments around Markham Centre and the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

In addition to the dedicated OVIN Demonstration Zone areas, Markham and Vaughan will be open to city-wide demonstrations in other designated areas to ensure no company is excluded from leveraging this asset if they have a truly promising venture. A call for applications to participate in the Demonstration Zone will be launched in October, so stay tuned to York Link for more information on how to get involved.

Leverage the only hardware focused Regional Technology Development Site (RTDS) in the Greater Toronto Area

ventureLAB's HCIDo you need a lab setting to test out your smart mobility solution versus a real-life setting? Take a look at the Markham-based OVIN Regional Technology Development Site. This site is the only Regional Technology Development Site in the Greater Toronto Area and the only hardware focused RTDS in Ontario.

This site makes use of ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative – Canada’s only lab and incubator for hardware and semiconductors; enabling technology companies to accelerate the development of hardware and technology platforms to power software and apps. The lab and incubator can now be leveraged for those producing hardware and semiconductors specifically for automotive and mobility sectors. To see if you are a good fit, connect with ventureLAB.

These OVIN assets support the next generation of automotive trailblazers, and it is no coincidence they are located in York Region. New companies in this space will join an impressive roster of automotive leaders and partners in the Region to support their growth.

Funding opportunities are open now via OVIN and NGen for tech and manufacturing-focused auto companies, making this an extremely exciting time for the sector. We look forward to seeing new innovations within our boundaries when the OVIN Demonstration Zone challenges launch this fall.

Keep an eye on our autotech sector page to avoid missing out on taking advantage of these new assets! Additionally, if you’re an automotive startup looking to leverage OVIN or one of our innovation partners such as ventureLAB, YSpace, or Treefrog Accelerator connect with our Senior Business Development Advisor, Katie Maginn, to discuss available supports.