Markham-based tech hub VentureLAB has announced the first cohort in its Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI), a hardware and silicon-focused lab aimed at supporting startups from Southern Ontario.

“Without this opportunity, it’s extremely difficult for hardware and silicon startups.”

The hub’s founding partners, including U.S.-based tech companies AMD and Synopsys, have committed $8 million in resources and mentorship in addition to the $5 million funding the program received from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) in June.

With the goal of helping startups develop hardware solutions for healthtech products, electronics, telecommunications, smart energy, and connected transportation, the HCI’s lab would provide access to specialized equipment and toolsets critical for manufacturing semiconductor, silicon, or advanced hardware-based solutions.

According to VentureLAB, the program was created out of the need to access expensive tools, lab space, investment, and industry expertise. It aims to support up to 40 companies and create over 200 jobs and 15 new products over the next five years.

“Without this opportunity, it’s extremely difficult for hardware and silicon startups to afford the barriers to entry,” said VentureLAB president and CEO Melissa Chee. “York Region’s unmatched tech expertise will ensure that HCI participants have every opportunity to hone their skills, scale their operations, and commercialize their products globally.”

The eight startups participating in the inaugural cohort are Bionic-i, BluMind.AI, Cyberworks Robotics, Ekidna Sensing, Humantec, Micromensio, Tartan AI, and Wind Shape Technology. The cohort is expected to kick off programming in February.

StartUp HERE Toronto is a publishing partner of Betakit and this article was originally published on their site.