The Holmes Group and Cisco today announced a collaborative relationship to explore opportunities in the residential construction sector. The Holmes Group and Cisco will collaborate to define and identify solutions which integrate Smart+Connected Real Estate into eco-friendly communities – with the aim of supporting the responsible economic, environmental and technological sustainability of model communities.
The collaboration will explore opportunities to provide mixed-use residential developments, led by Mike Holmes, with Cisco network and communication platforms to increase access and sharing of information, assist in planning and construction best practices, and incorporate skills development to increase efficiency, lower costs, and promote superior construction standards. Benefits to homeowners include improved connectivity, increased energy efficiency and savings through automated home energy-management tools, reduced maintenance, and increased longevity of home systems.
“It’s time we take responsibility and start thinking about building sustainably. We need to focus on durability. We need to reduce our carbon footprints for future generations. If we start building smart homes within smart communities that are connected to a smart grid that allows energy to flow two ways it will increase our home efficiency,” said Mike Holmes, President of The Holmes Group. “Technology and communication add a new dimension that makes this possible– it’s what I call the fourth utility. Together with Cisco we aim to establish a new global standard in community development through giving homeowners the tools they need to reduce the energy they use with improved value and quality.”
The companies are currently working on two pilot projects that will showcase the potential of these platforms as a model for environmental innovation around the world. Cisco will join The Holmes Group and the national Assembly of First Nations in a pilot project focused on re-establishing indigenous environmental stewardship and self-determination through building sustainable and efficient homes, enhancing community design and planning, and integrating appropriate green technologies and clean energy sources to improve the health and living conditions in First Nations communities. The pilot project will be located at Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, formerly known as Whitefish Lake First Nation, in northern Ontario.
“This collaboration is a significant step toward defining new community-planning models and establishing Smart +Connected Community solutions as the standard in residential construction. We look forward to working with The Holmes Group to not only showcase the capabilities of energy management and collaboration through these pilot projects, but also to assist in establishing a network of resources to support industry education and community skills development,” added Nitin Kawale, President of Cisco Canada.
Cisco will also collaborate with The Holmes Group on Wind Walk in southern Alberta, a sustainably planned mixed-use community featuring 457 high-performance green homes and self-supporting infrastructure designed to reduce consumption and its impact on the surrounding environment. Both initiatives explore opportunities to utilize Cisco’s Collaboration, Smart+Connected Communities and Smart Grid technologies to set new standards in residential design.
Ontario’s mySpark Technologies Inc. is preparing to deliver a full-featured tablet computer and software platform tailored for educational institutions. The mySpark Education Platform is an Android tablet that integrates with popular education-based learning management systems to provide unprecedented connectivity between students, instructors and social networks. With their finger or a specially designed stylus, students can take notes, share content and save key passages from any digital textbook.
The mySpark Education Platform is the brainchild of consumer technology veterans Adrian Hartog, CEO, and Steven Turner, CTO. Hartog and Turner led and created billion-dollar international divisions for graphic chip makers ATI Technologies Inc. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. The mySpark Education Platform will be offered at two prices, depending on configuration, and will ship in the second quarter of 2011.
“We recognize the economic constraints facing today’s students and school districts and are committed to building an industry-leading tablet at an affordable price,” said Adrian Hartog, Chief Executive Officer at mySpark. “Students today have technology wired into their DNA. The customized features we are building into the mySpark Education Platform will enable technological advancement in education and facilitate collaborative learning as well.”
The mySpark Education Platform is designed specifically for students, teachers and administrators, allowing students to purchase digital textbooks from an online store and borrow one from the campus library. Students and teachers can annotate text, write notes, insert multimedia content and sync with schools various calendars. The mySpark Education Platform can search an online campus library or for a specific digital textbook on the campus network or the tablet. Through their unique “Ideabook,” students can store a variety of content to access later for coursework and class projects. The mySpark Education Platform is a collaborative tool, allowing students to share multimedia content and post questions through instant messaging, group chat tools and message boards.
The 10-inch color mySpark Education Platform includes Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth, 4GB or 8GB of internal storage, SD card expansion, front and rear cameras, a 1 GHz dual-core processor, Adobe Flash support for multimedia playback, stylus inputs and a docking station so students can easily move from classroom to dorm room to work and connect anytime, anywhere. mySpark Technologies is also hiring, please see their web site for details.
The Ontario Venture Capital Fund (OVCF) has announced that it has made a commitment to Blackberry Partners Fund II, a leading independent venture capital firm focused exclusively on mobile internet investing. The Blackberry Partners Fund (Blackberry Partners), a Toronto-based firm, ranks among Canada’s most active technology investors.
“We are pleased to have made a lead commitment to one of Canada and Ontario’s most promising venture capital funds,” said Melissa McJannet, Managing Director of Northleaf Capital Partners, the manager of OVCF. “The investment in Blackberry Partners is reflective of OVCF’s strategy to invest in best-in-class Ontario-based and Ontario-focused venture capital and growth equity funds. Blackberry Partners has served as a local champion in the Ontario market and we believe its differentiated investment strategy positions the manager to succeed not only in the Canadian market, but on a global basis.”
“We are thrilled to add OVCF as a lead investor in our next fund and look forward to a long and successful partnership,” said John Albright, Co-Managing Partner of the BlackBerry Partners Fund. “Their support, along with our other lead investors, Research In Motion and Thomson Reuters, will allow us to continue to invest in leading players in the mobile internet sector and deliver strong returns for our investors.”
OVCF’s commitment to Blackberry Partners is an extension of a partnership that began in 2008 through a direct co-investment made alongside JLA Ventures (the predecessor to Blackberry Partners Fund) in I Love Rewards, a high potential Ontario-based company. OVCF believes that investing in promising venture capital and growth equity funds and co-investing alongside them to support innovative, high growth companies is critical to the development of a long-term, world-class venture capital ecosystem in Ontario. OVCF’s primary objective remains to generate attractive, long term returns for its investors and, by so doing, clearly demonstrate the significant opportunities available through investment in Ontario venture capital and growth equity funds and companies.