Venture 13 hosts ground-breaking tenant

By Cecilia Nasmith

Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation is pleased to announce an addition to its roster of clients at Cobourg's Venture 13 accelerator space, with the advent of Opener Inc. last week.

Aiming to democratize three-dimensional personal transportation, the company unveiled the BlackFly V3.0 electric personal aerial vehicle July 12 in Palo Alto, California, to international acclaim.

The town's press release noted that the company's chief executive officer Marcus Leng is a Warkworth entrepreneur who completed the initial development work has had on-going support from the county in he pursued initial development work (since 2012) at various locations throughout Northumberland.

In fact, the bulletin said, Leng's first test flights took place in Warkworth. From there, he quietly moved to an industrial research facility in Cobourg for expanded stealth operations.

The BlackFly continued to develop toward commercialization with significant private investment, as well as tactical seed funding and acceleration support through the CFDC's deployment of FedDev Ontario's Scientists and Engineers in Business initiative.

In 2014, the company attracted significant strategic backing and relocated primary operations to Silicon Valley. With the support of Northumberland CFDC, its Canadian activities continued, including testing in collaboration with Transport Canada and (most recently) confirmation that the BlackFly qualifies as a basic ultralight airplane under Canadian Aviation Regulations.

The press release noted that this approval is a significant step that paves the way for eventual sale of the vehicles within Canada, while showcasing Canada’s ongoing and active participation in globally significant aeronautical innovation.

It also includes remarks from Leng expressing appreciation for the CFDC's role in this project, calling the agency “catalysts in developing our business strategies, while also helping us to synchronize with the Government of Canada/Transport Canada.”

Leng predicts more growth (and more entrants) in the personal-aerial vehicle sector and hopes for the appropriate legislative framework under which they can operate safely.

There may be other companies getting into the sector, CFDC executive director Wendy Curtis pointed out, but Leng's is the first.

“The company’s long-term vision of eventual integration into a safe and efficient rural-urban commuting network is both disruptive and challenging,” Curtis commented.

“It is exciting to be at the cusp, and we welcome their representation at Venture13 as they carefully develop their global presence and impact.”