South Korea-based AutoTech company Autocrypt has announced Whitby as the home for its new Canadian office, moving it into the heart of Canada’s auto district.
Autocrypt made the move to the Durham region in collaboration with Toronto Global, which seeks to attract international businesses to the region, as well as Whitby accelerator 1855.
Autocrypt plans to hire new employees in the region in roles that will range from business development and business administration, to cybersecurity engineers and developers. The company believes hiring locally will help it expand its broader North American operations.
“This region has a great pool of highly skilled professionals,” said Sean HJ Cho, Autocrypt’s North American CEO.
Autocrypt provides cyber security solutions for autonomous vehicles through its vehicle-to-everything and vehicle-to-grid technology.
The vehicle-to-everything security solution provides cyber security to autonomous vehicles for everything they might come into contact with, such as other vehicles, charging stations, wireless networks, and more. The vehicle-to-grid solution provides cyber security when connecting the autonomous vehicle to a grid and using it as a power source.
Autocrypt provides cyber security to autonomous vehicles when connected to charging stations. Photo by Ernest Ojeh on Unsplash
Autocrypt began in 2007 as an in-house venture at Penta Security Systems, eventually spinning off as a separate entity in 2019. The company has since raised $15 million USD, with investors including Hyundai’s venture arm and Ulmus Investment. It lists Samsung and Korea Internet and Security Agency among its key partners and customers.
Autocrypt chose Whitby and the Durham region to establish its Canadian foothold in large part due to the region’s strong automotive industry.
Durham has long been home to Canada’s automotive industry. Though the region has experienced its fair share of turmoil and uncertainty in recent years, such as when General Motors announced it would be closing its Oshawa plant in 2019. However, with GM restarting automotive production in Oshawa and the Ontario government committing $56.4 million over four years to support innovation in AutoTech, the region is once again attracting international businesses.
One attraction for Autocrypt was the potential for partnerships in the area. “A major draw for Autocrypt was GM Canada’s headquarters, located in Durham region,” said Stephen Lund, Toronto Global CEO.
“In addition, both Ontario Tech University and Durham College are heavily involved in ongoing automotive projects with GM, and Autocrypt saw a natural fit locating in Whitby,” Lund added.
Dennis Croft, the CEO of 1855 Accelerator, echoed that the potential for automotive innovation at local post-secondary institutions really enticed Autocrypt. 1855 has introduced Autocrypt to the local college and university, and Croft said Autocrypt was intrigued by the possibility of partnership.
“The city is successfully on its way to becoming a mobility innovations hub by implementing various future mobility services like autonomous shuttles, and this aligns perfectly with Autocrypt’s goals and aspirations,” said Autocrypt’s Cho.
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“We plan to collaborate with our local partners and work together towards making Whitby the mobility innovation hub of Canada, particularly by showing the benefits of secure autonomous shuttle services,” Cho added.
Autocrypt doesn’t plan to limit its operations to Whitby, however. Croft said he expects Autocrypt to use the Durham region as a launchpad to expand to the United States.
In addition to this, Autocrypt also plans to eventually expand to more regions across Canada. “We are concentrating on solidifying our presence in the Greater Toronto Area at this point in time, but look forward to expand[ing] to other regions in Canada, especially with continued development of smart roadways and testbeds across the country,” Cho said.
Ontario is particularly known for its innovation in autonomous vehicles as it allows companies to test new autonomous technologies on public roads.
Autocrypt has been connected with 1855 Accelerator since early this year when it signed a virtual membership agreement. Now, Autocrypt is ready to create a physical location in Whitby. Croft said he expects Autocrypt will relocate some of its executives from Korea to the Whitby location, so the company has some continuity from its headquarters.
This deal is very important to the future of the Whitby region, Croft said, adding that it’s also 1855’s first company in the smart mobility space.
“We’ve had a number of reasonably good international companies that have come through 1855, but this one, by far, would be the highest profile one from a marketplace perspective,” Croft added.
Croft said 1855 plans to announce more smart mobility companies entering the area in the new year as the AutoTech industry continues to grow in Durham.