Our commitment to Miovision just keeps on growing

McRock joins co-investors in increasing capital investment in intelligent transportation solutions leader

In case any of you doubted how much we believe in Miovision, McRock and fellow co-investors— Maverix and Telus—are making a second and final tranche in the most recent funding round with a further $36 million in capital. This brings the total investment to $296 million following the funding round announced in April 2023. The additional capital is to help Miovision meet accelerating opportunities in the marketplace.

They’re hot. So hot, in fact, that our co-founder and Miovision board member Whitney Rockley declared during a recent podcast that she “double-dog-dares anyone to try and compete against Miovision right now.”

And no wonder. The convergence of Miovision’s smart transportation technology with the demand from urban planners and the general public for safer, cleaner, more efficient infrastructure is driving interest after years of hard work, preparation, and patience. And of course, the vision of Kurtis McBride, CEO and co-founder of Miovision, who first saw the potential for data-driven traffic solutions.

The real-world application of Miovision’s solutions is what excites the market and fuels financial commitment from investors. “Miovision is bringing brains to the intersection,” says Whitney. “The company is a leader in helping cities, towns and agencies gather multimodal traffic data and deliver the kind of analytics that help their customers manage urban transportation far more effectively. They are helping solve a real challenge and we see a significant, growing opportunity for the company and its solutions.”

It’s Responsible Investing in action.

Clearpath Robotics acquired by automation juggernaut Rockwell

Canadian autonomous robotics rockstars ready to fly

Let’s list the many reasons this latest deal is one for the McRock success story scrapbook:

  1. This marks the sixth successful strategic sale from McRock’s Digital Industrial portfolio.
  2. It’s our second successful exit in 2023 and we’re only three quarters of the way through!
  3. Another Canadian basement startup to international success story.

Someone grab us a tissue box because we’re bursting with tears of joy for Matt Rendall, Ryan Gariepy, Brian Webb and the team at Clearpath, and its Otto Motors division. And bravo to Rockwell Automation for recognizing the huge opportunity to take this operation to the next level. This is the kind of significant investment needed to leverage the full potential of Clearpath’s digital transformation and AI technology and scale it into the world-class robotics leader we know it should be.

McRock became an investor in Clearpath Robotics in September 2020 as part of a US$34 million Series C financing deal. Our co-founder Whitney Rockley also joined the Board at that time. Five McRock investors—Caterpillar, Mitsubishi, EDC, BDC and Kensington Capital—are also backers in the company . It takes a village to raise a robotics leader with mission-critical material handling tasks for major fortune 500 companies, including GE and Toyota.

Clearpath is automating the dullest, dirtiest and deadliest jobs

Clearpath Robotics was founded in a Kitchener, Ontario basement by four University of Waterloo grads with a vision to become the global leader in mobile robots. They built an operation that today employs around 350 people who help create safer and more efficient work environments. Their technology includes AI navigation software and robotics to allow automation of movement-based tasks in factories, warehouses and operational sites. Clearpath robots are now on the move on every continent, including possibly the world’s most hostile work environment—Antarctica.

Remember what we said in our 2021 & 2022 Responsible Investing Reports? “If the Digital Industrial had a rallying cry it would probably be ‘better, faster, cheaper, safer’.” It’s still true today, especially in light of the harsh reality that labour in North America remains scarce and more expensive than other markets, like Asia. So, the demand for automation in the industrial world has never been stronger than today. And yes, we’ll agree that Clearpath’s self-driving forklifts are totally cool. But it’s their vision for smart operations that are better, faster, cheaper and safer that made it a desirable target for acquisition. We can’t wait to see where they go next.

It’s the end of another chapter for us. But what a great book that’s being written about the many successful start-ups and tech innovators that are helping to make the world a better place for everyone.

Poka acquisition—the latest successful exit from McRock—signals soaring global interest in connected worker software

Alex and Antoine learned early, when they are passing cookies around, take the cookie

This cookie analogy may be our favourite from all the acquisition announcements we’ve made recently. And we’ve made a few! Poka’s acquisition by IFS is sweeeet for co-founders Alex Leclerc and Antoine Bisson; it confirms their recipe for creating digital tools to optimize industrial operations was a winning one. And when this cookie presented itself—the opportunity to sell—they knew the time was right to take it.

IFS is a global supplier of cloud enterprise software. It is recognized by industry analysts as a leader in helping companies orchestrate their people, customers, and assets across Enterprise Asset Management, Field Service Management, ERP, and Enterprise Service Management in its core industries.

It may be the end of McRock’s part in this journey, but this amazing milestone represents the continuation and acceleration of Poka’s mission. With the backing of IFS, Poka now has an even stronger foundation for growth.

Alex grew up in his family’s cookie factories—for real. The Leclerc cookie company has been around for more than 100 years; he saw first-hand how inconsistent performance across the company’s operations could lead to waste and quality issues. He leapt at the chance to create a custom digital solution and invited his childhood friend Antoine, who happened to be good with computers, to help. They built a modern software solution to help factory workers collectively learn from their mistakes on the shop floor and build knowledge that would lead to continuous improvements. It worked in the cookie factory, so surely other industrial businesses could benefit from this, too.

Next thing they knew, they were entrepreneurs.

The name Poka comes from Poka Yoke, the Japanese term for mistake proofing

The secret ingredient in Alex and Antoine’s success with Poka was recognizing opportunity when it appeared and seizing it—whether it was the initial opportunity to commercialize their internal tool or to accept financial help and guidance from investors like McRock to build the business into what it is today.

We also pride ourselves in having learned to take the cookie when they are being passed around. For us, one of the best cookies was embracing the importance of capturing the human workforce as part of the Digital Industrial Revolution and the opportunity it creates for the investment community. When we closed our most recent venture fund—McRock Fund II—in the summer of 2019, we went deep to identify the best emerging companies in the connected worker space. We found Poka and invested in 2021. Two years on, connected factory worker solutions are in strong demand and the number of privately held tech companies in the space are becoming scarce.

We are also proud to have contributed more than capital to the Poka venture. These relationships are what drive us to show up every day; watching leaders like Alex and Antoine thrive is why we chose to build McRock differently from other VC firms.

“Words cannot express how grateful we are to have had you as investors on our wild journey,” says Alex. “Your unwavering support, guidance, and belief in our vision have been game-changers for us. You’ve gone beyond just throwing in cash; you’ve shared your wisdom, experience, and expertise every step of the way. Your passion and genuine care for our entrepreneurs and your own team makes McRock really special.”

Well gosh…

Alex and the team built Poka with a goal to help their manufacturing clients turn every production problem on the factory floor into an opportunity to build collective knowledge, learn, and improve. That’s a philosophy the McRock team could easily get behind, and we’re thrilled to have assisted another Digital Industrial company taste sweet success.

Welcome to the McRock Family, Stream!

Praemo Rolled into Model Simulating Software Innovator

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We think in the Digital Industrial world it may actually be a business combination. The folks at Stream Systems surely saw something they admired in Praemo; so much so they decided to grab the technology and people. How flattering, indeed!

Stream is revolutionizing modeling simulation software for industry to help companies see and resolve network optimization challenges quickly and easily. The combination gives them access to Praemo’s AI/Machine Learning team which immediately strengthens the internal data science capabilities Stream offers. Praemo’s product—Razor™—is highly complementary to Stream’s SimOpti and harnesses the power of machine learning to streamline production processes and optimize industrial operations.

The addition of Praemo will also help Stream Systems accelerate their product road map and support the transition from a Professional Services company to a Software as a Service company. Stream Systems has released their first MVP for the mining industry and will be releasing their first commercial product in the fall of 2023.

Great news for Praemo, and great news for us at McRock! The transaction also means Stream Systems joins our strong portfolio of Digital Industrial leaders. We’re excited to watch what they do next with this powerful tool to optimize industrial assets. Welcome to the family, Stream!


And the winners are…drumroll, please!

Mitsubishi and Miovision are first-ever recipients of the McRock Climate Action Awards for excellence in addressing climate change among Digital Industrial technology leaders

These guys are too busy doing their thing—improving the state of the world for the rest of us—to be tooting their own horns. So we’re doing it for them. Cue the balloon drop and pop the champagne!

We established the McRock Climate Action Awards to draw attention to how digital transformation is driving the industrial carbon transition and to spotlight the DI innovators who are making real progress in our collective efforts to find solutions for global climate change. We’re thrilled to be announcing the winners at our 10th Digital Industrial Symposium. Bring on the accolades!

Mitsubishi Corporation is being awarded Climate Action Corporate Leader of the Year because of their effective approaches, substantial investments and outcomes in promoting environmental friendliness and advancing sustainable development. Mitsubishi’s commitment to climate action is a key element of the senior leadership’s business strategy and includes several aggressive targets for building a carbon neutral community—both in its own operations and in creating a steady energy supply. They have formalized Digital and Energy Transformation strategies, which includes for example, transitioning to renewable energy sources with the help of digital technology and artificial intelligence in power generation forecasting. And they’ve also used this technology to develop a food distribution platform to minimize food waste and, by extension, reduce CO2 emissions. How cool is that?

Climate Action Tech Company of the Year is awarded to Miovision for their tangible achievements in delivering digital solutions that drive climate impacts. These traffic technology innovators are reducing road congestion and vehicle emissions all while improving public safety through scalable intelligent transportation solutions. The management team of the privately owned organization shares a common vision for using technology and big data to address the challenges of climate change. Their most recent acquisition—Global Traffic Technologies—is enabling Miovision to build in traffic signal prioritization sensors to further reduce transit and emergency responder delays. Optimizing signal timing is a simple but highly effective strategy for reducing GHG emissions that is helping urban planners around the world yield tangible results in reaching their climate targets.

OK, yes, we’re admittedly biased when it comes to Miovision, but you should know the recipients of these awards were selected by a panel of independent judges. Huge thanks to these incredible industry leaders for joining our judging panel to identify and celebrate the innovators who are making a difference:

  • Michelle de Cordova, Principal, ESG Global Advisors
  • Alison Nankivell, Senior Vice President, Funds and Global Scaling, BDC Capital
  • Rachel Guthrie, VP, Corporate Sustainability Group, EDC

Keep your eyes open for the companies that will be contending for these awards in 2024. They’re already out there, doing their thing, to make the world a better place for all of us.