Year-End 2023 Interview with Canadian Securities Exchange CEO Richard Carleton

It was a tale of two stock markets in 2023, with large-cap indices nearing record highs, while the shares of smaller companies struggled to find steady footing. Ongoing geopolitical uncertainty didn’t help, but if one had to name a single factor explaining the divergent performance, most observers would point to interest rates, which have surged manyfold from their pandemic trough that ended in the latter half of 2021.

History suggests that small-cap companies will again have their day in the sun. Reasons for optimism include expectations for a softening interest rate environment and the undeniable global trend toward greater electrification, which will continue to present opportunities to companies of all sizes. As is always the case with financial markets, timing is the hardest thing to predict.

Through all of this, the Canadian Securities Exchange maintained steady growth in its issuer base in 2023, while also introducing important changes to listings policies, margin eligibility, and its visual brand.

In a late-November discussion, CSE Chief Executive Officer Richard Carleton offered his perspective on markets at home and abroad, as well as his outlook for 2024, as the Exchange gets ready to mark a particularly important milestone.

Every year is different for the capital markets and in 2023 it was the interest rate environment that took centre stage. How would you characterize the capital markets in 2023 based on your interaction with issuers and others in the financial community?

It’s a tricky question and my initial reaction is that it was unprecedented, difficult, and a little strange — these are the words that come to mind. The first big issue is a lack of trading activity in all of Canada’s public markets, but particularly in the junior capital markets. The last time we saw turnover levels this low was 10 years ago. It has been a significant decline given that we were at record levels only two years ago, which was the height of the pandemic. To see declines in overall trading activity on the order of 70% to 80% is something that in my career, which dates back some 35 years in the capital markets, is unprecedented.

I think it’s fair to say that the interest rate environment and the overall economy is likely the culprit. As we know, retail investor participation is very important, particularly for the junior capital side of the markets, and there is a lot of pressure on Canadian families from an inflation perspective, housing costs, mortgage renewals, and so on. So, I think we are seeing that decrease in activity as a result.

That said, there are reasons for tremendous optimism because we have had many new companies access public capital through the Canadian Securities Exchange over the course of the year. We are not at the record levels we saw in 2021 or 2022 in terms of new companies coming to market, but we are still going to see roughly 100 companies list in 2023, which is extraordinary growth.

There has been a significant shift in the nature of those companies. In the last couple of years, we have seen a lot of investment in battery, strategic, and critical minerals, which are principally lithium, graphite, copper, nickel, cobalt, zinc, and rare earth elements.

This obviously takes place in anticipation that as the economy further electrifies and we bring new battery plants into production, there will be considerable demand for all of these minerals. Given the lack of new capacity brought on line for these minerals over the past 20 or 30 years, the belief is that there is a tremendous opportunity for Canadian companies, whether they are mining in Canada or internationally, to fill that demand.

So, as I say, we are in this kind of strange situation where we have a very robust listings pipeline and new listings cohort from 2023, but at the same time, we see participation rates and asset valuation levels that are disappointing and somewhat frustrating for company management teams.

You just described a year that had as many challenges as opportunities, yet the CSE is on pace for an impressive number of new listings across a wide variety of business sectors. What enabled the CSE to perform so well?

We attract the majority of new companies coming into Canada’s public marketplace at this time. There are a number of reasons for this, but I think that the most important factor is the excellent working relationship our listings regulation team has built up over the years with entrepreneurs and their legal, accounting, and investment banking advisors. 

People feel very comfortable working with the team, and I believe there is also an appreciation for the opportunities we provide through our listings development group to help showcase the unique stories of our issuers to a marketplace that, as I say, is challenging at the moment. So, it’s really both as the company lists on the CSE, and then as they look to grow in part through a relationship with the CSE, that we have an opportunity to help our issuers achieve their goals.

The CSE underwent a significant visual rebrand in 2023 that brought with it a new slogan: Always Invested. Why was now the right time and what does the refreshed brand represent?

I’d say there are two things. The first is that we have been involved with our partners at the securities commissions on a rebuild of our listings policies, really for the first time in the 20-year existence of the organization. There are significant changes to both tighten up the requirements for all companies listed on the exchange, as well as the creation of a senior tier which will enable us to regulate larger, more mature companies on a similar basis as they would be on larger exchanges in North America.

With that was really the recognition that we have moved past the start-up phase and are now a material part of Canada’s public markets. The visual identity of the brand is meant to convey our evolution. The logo is bold with forward momentum, it represents stability and, to a smaller degree, modernization and disruption. 

The slogan “Always Invested” is a promise to our customers and partners. A promise that we will always be invested in quality service and the future of efficient public capital markets. 

Was the decision to look at the listings policies mostly an internal one or did the broader financial community influence it as well?

The drive to update the listings policies came from a number of sources. We had feedback from the entrepreneurial, legal, and audit communities in terms of where our policies should be headed. And we work very closely with the regulators in terms of supporting investor protection and promoting capital formation and liquid markets through availability of information on companies.

We concluded that we could do a number of things to update the approach we have taken from when the listings manual was first drafted in 2003. So, with the benefit of 20 years of experience and feedback from various stakeholders, it was time to make significant changes.

The CSE will reach its 20th year as a recognized exchange in May 2024. You must already be planning a celebration of this milestone. What is in store and what can issuers and investors expect from the CSE in the next 20 years?

The first question is the easiest in that we are certainly looking to mark the event, but in ways that are sensitive to the difficult financing conditions many of our issuers are finding. Of course, times are challenging also for the investment dealers who we work with on the corporate finance and trading sides. So, I wouldn’t expect anything too over the top, but it is important that we celebrate the milestone because it is significant. 

I like to tell entrepreneurs when they are considering working with the CSE that we are an exchange that has experienced many of the same challenges and triumphs as a company that they are going through: we were a start-up that initially struggled to find an audience for its services, went through multiple pivots as we looked to find our way in an intensely competitive market, had to raise capital during very difficult market conditions but ultimately succeeded by never losing sight of our goal, which is to build a great exchange. We will be celebrating these achievements next year as we reach our 20th year as an exchange. 

As for the next 20 years, that’s a really good question. There has been a lot of criticism of traditional finance models from our peers in the crypto world: they are looking to decentralize trading facilities and disintermediation of service providers like traditional brokers, custodians, clearing agencies, and the like. From my perspective, the system we collectively operate for access to trading and capital through the traditional stock market environment has evolved to respond to a series of challenges over many years. It is actually very robust.

All of the systems and processes that had to be re-invented for crypto trading are already deeply baked into the investor protection and business processes that we have in what they call the legacy or “centralized finance” world, as the crypto community sometimes refers to it. 

My point is that the exchange trading environment is likely to look an awful lot like it does now, with more technology applications eliminating the remaining manual processes from the trading world, and facilitating the availability of better and more timely information for investors.

A visit to Australia earlier in the year brought the opportunity for new perspective on a capital market that is often compared to Canada’s. What can you tell us about the market there and the ambitions of the local financial community?

What’s interesting is that before we left for Australia, and since we returned, I saw articles in the Canadian business press suggesting that Australia is eating Canada’s lunch when it comes to embracing and supporting the new generation of companies in the strategic minerals space. When we were in Australia, we saw opinions expressed in the local financial press that Canada was eating Australia’s lunch when it came to supporting the investment and development of companies in the strategic minerals space. I’m not sure who is right or wrong, but clearly there is a difference of opinion on the point!

It’s clear that Canadian mining companies have been looking for capital from the Australian market. It appears that there are a number of Australian funds that are prepared to invest in relatively early-stage exploration companies, and also that companies from the CSE, and Canada in general, have had some success in raising capital from Australian investors.

The window seems very tight for raising additional money here in Canada so when a couple of Canadian companies had success in Australia, others followed that lead and attempted to replicate their experience.

From our perspective, we are looking to remove as many barriers and costs as we can for companies on the CSE to raising capital in Australia, and will support CSE-listed issuers seeking admission to the ASX in any way that we can.

Staying with the mining theme, can you share your thoughts with us on the sector’s outlook for 2024?

It is clear that good projects across a wide range of potential minerals are getting funding and entering the public markets. They are able to raise that first round of investment to support the first phase of exploration.

The new issuers from 2021 and 2022 that now have a season of drilling under their belts have been generating some positive reports. Normally, you would expect to see positive price performance, but for some reason, we are not seeing it. As a result, when companies raise their second round, the funding is dilutive for their original investors because the transaction is conducted at the previous issue price, or even lower for some of them.

This is a challenge and a source of some frustration for the industry. That said, we continue to see good projects come to the CSE and there is an extensive pipeline of companies preparing to come to market in 2024.

I hope and expect that with a return to more normal levels of retail participation as interest rates begin to come down in 2024, which I think is a near certainty, you will see the cycle happen where the management teams that successfully advance projects are rewarded with better market valuations and are able to raise significant additional funds at higher prices.

The cannabis sector has gone through some adjustment of late. What has been the CSE’s experience and have you had any feedback from cannabis issuers that stands out in your mind?

Cannabis issuers in many respects are very similar to those in the mining sector right now in that there is a degree of frustration from company management over lack of support in the secondary market as far as asset valuation goes.

We have a number of companies listed on the CSE which continue to build market share in the United States, and there continue to be new states that legalize for adult recreational purposes, which opens up new markets for these companies.

But it appears that the investment community is focused on legislative progress toward either rescheduling of cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule III substance, which could result in significant tax relief for companies in the United States, or toward some form of outright legalization for adult recreational purposes on the Federal level.

As a result of these challenges with their equity market valuation, many of the larger companies are raising debt capital by either mortgaging tangible assets or securing lines of credit through the significant cash flow a few of these larger companies are generating. It is a very challenging time for these companies and my hope is that we begin to see more institutional participation and more long-term investors with a sophisticated understanding of the prospects and outlook for these companies. That should create the conditions for better price performance that recognizes the progress that many of them have made over the last five years.

In June, CSE issuers became eligible for margin following a decision by the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization. How have issuers benefited since that decision was made?

It’s a benefit that flows to the investment dealers when they hold CSE securities in their own names on an overnight basis. The changes mean that, for eligible securities, they don’t have to take 100 cents on the dollar as a capital hit and will see significant reductions on that charge against their firm’s regulatory capital.

I know that sounds like deep inside baseball, but the practical benefit for an issuer is that it can significantly decrease the dealer’s cost of conducting an offering on behalf of the issuer. For many of these companies, the dealer will hold the stock in its inventory for a significant period of time. It is very expensive if they are tying up regulatory capital to hold that position.

This change should, and will, facilitate a lower cost of capital for CSE issuers.

It is always up to the investment dealer to determine if they will permit a client to hold a security in a margin account; the regulatory change does not mean that CSE securities will become eligible for margin accounts. Investors will have to ask their dealer about the issue. 

We took a 20-year look forward earlier in the discussion. Let’s shorten the timeline and conclude with your thoughts on what the CSE plans to achieve in 2024.

We’re deep in the planning stages of our forecast, our budget, and the strategic plan for 2024, and there are a few things I would highlight.

We saw tremendous growth in our staff complement in 2023 as we powered up to service our ever-growing issuer population and to administer many of the new listings policies implemented over the course of the year. We should be quiet on the “new hires” front in 2024.

There will be demand for new capital from the mining companies, in particular, who joined the Exchange over the last three years. The CSE will do what we can to assist these companies in reaching sources of capital in Canada, the U.S., and overseas. We’ve talked in past years about the preferred access Canadian public companies have to the U.S. capital markets; I believe that the U.S. could be an important source of capital for the CSE’s mining issuers in the coming years. We also want to work with the industry to assist them in any way we can to engage with a younger generation of investors looking to support the energy transition through their investment portfolios. 

Overall, we are being quite conservative in our expectations for trading and new listings in the coming year. I personally believe that interest rates will come down sooner and faster than the broader consensus, but that probably isn’t a sound basis for us to be doing our financial planning for the year! What I am certain of is that when rates do begin to come down, there will be more robust trading volumes across the markets. It is my hope that investors take the time to get to know the issuer classes of 2022 and 2023 a little better as they come back to the market.

2023 Year-End Rewind

Throughout December, we’re looking back on the year and sharing our favourite highlights from each month. To kick things off, we’re rewinding to January, when we attended a renowned mining event and published a special edition of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

January Highlights

Vancouver Resource Investment Conference (VRIC)

On January 29–30, the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference (VRIC), produced by Cambridge House International, made its highly-anticipated return.

In the lead up to the conference, we had the honour of speaking with Jay Martin, President and CEO of Cambridge House, on a special episode of The Exchange for Entrepreneurs Podcast. Jay Martin spoke with us about the importance of reviving VRIC as an in-person event, his investor newsletter, and engaging with capital markets discourse from all sides. 

You can watch the episode here.

Following this insightful discussion, we were eager to connect with and learn from the many thought leaders, companies, investors, peers, friends, and colleagues in the mining space who attended this renowned conference.

Several CSE-listed issuers also exhibited at the event, including:

To close out VRIC, we held our Cross-Border Networking Reception, in collaboration with our event partners, OTC Markets, Odyssey Trust, MNP, Investing News Network, DealMaker, Grove Corporate Services, and Bennett Jones.

It was great to connect with friends old and new and to gain fresh industry insights. We hope to see everyone again at VRIC 2024!

View the album: Cross-Border Networking Reception

Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine: The Mining Issue (VRIC Edition)

In preparation for VRIC, we published  and distributed a special edition of the 2023 Mining Issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

This issue, which offered a preview of the full edition published in March, highlights the stories of six companies boldly leaning into world-class opportunities within the context of rising interest in gold and battery metals. 

Companies featured in this edition include:

  • Irving Resources (CSE:IRV)
  • Li-FT Power
  • Relevant Gold
  • Snowline Gold
  • Tantalex Lithium Resources (CSE:TTX)
  • Western Uranium & Vanadium (CSE:WUC)

Read now: Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine: The Mining Issue (VRIC Edition)


February Highlights

Ray Williams on The Exchange for Entrepreneurs Podcast

In honour of Black History Month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Ray Williams, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Financial Markets at National Bank Financial, on the Exchange for Entrepreneurs Podcast. 

This special episode delivers a fascinating look at the importance and limitations of Black History Month, the opportunities and benefits of furthering diversity on both a human and economic level, and the legacy of 100 Strong and Black Opportunity Fund, which both champion Black individuals to succeed in Canada. 

Notably, this discussion provides a prompt for executives and investors alike to ask themselves the question of whether they’re doing enough to investigate, encourage, and mentor talent from all backgrounds and to best position their firms for the greatest success.

Watch now: Ray Williams on “Capitalizing” on Diversity | The CSE Podcast Ep7-S3

PreDAC Vancouver & Toronto 

Leading up to the renowned PDAC Convention, organized by Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada, we teamed up with Investor.Events to host PreDAC Vancouver and PreDAC Toronto. 

Our highly-anticipated mining industry networking events were a great success, with the Toronto session knocking attendance out of the park as a sold-out event.

We enjoyed connecting with friends old and new for two exciting afternoons filled with pitches, industry insights, presentations, networking, and great company.

Enjoy reminiscing with these photo highlight albums from each event!

View the albums: PreDAC Vancouver 2023 & PreDAC Toronto 2023


March Highlights

PDAC Convention & PDAC Investor Luncheon

Organized by the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada, the PDAC Convention has been the world’s premier mineral exploration and mining convention for over 90 years. With our strong connection to the mining industry, the CSE was proud to attend, exhibit, and be a media partner at this world-renowned event.

Throughout this four-day event, there was a high volume of activity, including fascinating programming, exhibits, and extensive networking opportunities with leaders in the mineral exploration and mining sectors. Along with connecting with attendees at our booth on the exhibition floor, we produced and provided mining-focused content, and distributed free copies of the mining edition of our magazine.

It was a thrill to connect with CSE-listed mining companies and to host our Investor Luncheon, which featured a keynote address from Mr. Peter Kent, former Minister of Environment and Climate Change of Canada, former Member of Parliament, and current ; rapid-fire pitch presentations; and was sponsored by MNP, DSA Corporate Services, Marrelli Support Services, Investor.Events, BTV, INN, Market One, Newsfile, Purves Redmond, W.D. Latimer, Vested, and SmallCap Communications.

We’re looking forward to next year’s convention!

View the album: PDAC Investor Luncheon

Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine: The Mining Issue

Expanding on the VRIC edition, we launched the full version of the 2023 Mining Issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine, in conjunction with PDAC. 

This edition offers insight into mining companies that are reaching far corners of the globe, from Japan to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in light of rising interest in gold and battery metals, including:

  • Irving Resources (CSE:IRV)
  • Li-FT Power
  • Relevant Gold
  • Snowline Gold
  • Tantalex Lithium Resources (CSE:TTX)
  • Western Uranium & Vanadium (CSE:WUC)

In addition to featuring these fascinating stories and perspectives, the full edition spotlights the CSE’s Anna Serin, Director of Listings Development Western Canada and US and Vancouver Branch Lead, who shares her family connection to the mining space.

Read now: Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine: The Mining Issue


April Highlights

Senior Tier Launch

This April, we were proud to announce a major policy update at the Exchange, which included the launch of our long-awaited Senior Tier. 

The CSE received final approval from the Ontario Securities Commission and British Columbia Securities Commission to materially revise its listing policies. These amendments create a level playing field with other exchanges, ushering in a new era at the CSE.

With a strengthened competitive environment for issuers, enhanced investor confidence, and greater accessibility to a broader range of institutional investors, this was a defining moment for issuers, investors, and the CSE team.

Read Now: Updated Policies for Canadian Securities Exchange Usher in New Era for Exchange and its Stakeholders

Growing Steady

We were proud to announce record growth numbers in our March market statistics, released on April 18, 2023. Not only did we see 30 new corporate listings in the first quarter of the year, but we also saw eight IPOs, proving the CSE remains the IPO destination of choice for emerging corporate issuers.

These growth numbers were a fantastic milestone to cap off the start of 2023 and set the pace for the months ahead.

Read now: Canadian Securities Exchange Reports March 2023 Performance Figures


May Highlights

Welcoming New Members to the CSE Team

Change has certainly been a central theme at the CSE this year. At the start of 2023, we had the pleasure of welcoming two new members to our management team: Tracey Stern and Stuart Schady.        

Tracey Stern, Chief Legal Officer, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, has had an extensive career as a senior market regulator with the Ontario Securities Commission and as a chief compliance officer with a Canadian investment dealer. In her new role, Tracey is supporting the continuing evolution of the CSE as a leading exchange for global entrepreneurial companies.

Stuart Schady, Vice President of Trading & Market Data Services, assumed his new role after three years at the CSE as Director of Business Development in the Trading & Market Data Services Group, with previous experience in various roles in global financial services. In his new role, Stuart is bringing his impressive focus on service and his knowledge of the ever-evolving trading landscape.

Read Now: Canadian Securities Exchange Announces Executive Appointments

In the spring, we were thrilled to welcome Melissa Robertson, who joined as our Listings Development, Events & Content Manager, and Dimitri Giller, our new Director of Listed Company Services, to the CSE team.

With his experience and knowledge in the tech space, Dimitri was featured in the 2023 Technology Issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine, which would be released in June. In this interview, he shares his journey to the CSE and his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities tech companies are facing today.

Read now: Spotlight on Dimitri Giller

SME’s Current Trends in Mining: Richard Carleton Interview

Richard Carleton, CSE CEO, was interviewed at SME’s Current Trends in Mining Conference in New York City by Mark Bunting from Red Cloud TV.

During this fascinating interview, Richard discussed the CSE’s differentiators and successes in the mining sector, saying “We’ve been very successful in the mining space over the last 12 months. Roughly 80 companies or so have joined the Exchange from the mining sector.”

Richard also shared his uniquely positioned insights into trends in critical and precious metals, liquidity and OTC markets, and more.

Watch now: RCTV | Canadian Securities Exchange On-Site SME New York


June Highlights

Margin Eligibility Announcement

In June, we were proud to announce that, under the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization’s margin eligibility rule, the CSE was identified as an “acceptable exchange.” This decision applied immediately to all CSE-listed securities.

Margin eligibility has ushered in significant benefits for CSE-listed securities, including enhanced liquidity and reduced financing costs, and has served to make the Exchange a more attractive home for potential issuers.

We are pleased to be able to meet the ever-evolving needs of companies listed with us.

Read Now: Canadian Securities Exchange Securities Eligible for Margin

Summit on Responsible Investment

On June 27, we hosted the first-ever Summit on Responsible Investment in Kelowna. Our socially responsible investing and environmental, social, and governance event brought together a considerable crowd of professionals from a diverse range of industries for a day packed with presentations, panel discussions, company spotlights, networking, and exhibiting.

The event was a resounding success, thanks in no small part to all of our guests, presenters, collaborators, and sponsors, MNP LLP, Dentons, Odyssey Trust, Socialsuite, Business Television (BTV), irlabs, Accelerate Okanagan, and Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission. Plus, attendees raised over $6,000 for the Central Okanagan Food Bank to help combat food insecurity in Kelowna and West Kelowna.

We are excited to bring the Summit back by popular demand in 2024. In the meantime, replays of each session are available free to watch on CSE TV.

Watch now: Summit on Responsible Investment Playlist

Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine: The Technology Issue

At the end of the month, we published the 2023 Technology Issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine. With widespread advancements and numerous opportunities in technology, such as the public release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and its rapid growth to 100 million users in just two months, this issue was exceptionally relevant for investors, entrepreneurs, and the over 100 CSE-listed companies in the technology space.

In this issue, we took a deep dive into the stories of six companies that are getting ahead of the curve with innovations to solve tomorrow’s problems today, from emergency communications to plant-derived nutraceuticals to cryptocurrency forensics.

The CSE-listed companies featured in this issue include:

Read now: Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine: The Technology Issue


July Highlights

Summer Networking

The CSE had an action-packed summer filled with great company, new connections, and incredible sightseeing.

We kicked off our summer event circuit by hosting our first-ever SunDAC mining networking event in June, co-hosted by Grove Corporate Services, Newsfile, and OCI Group, and sponsored by enPercept. It was a delight to have Zero Zero Pizza as our venue and to catch up with friends and contacts we reconnected with at this year’s PDAC Convention over delicious food and great drinks.

We also had a great time donning our cowboy hats and catching up with old and new friends in Calgary for our annual Stampede festivities, including pancake breakfasts, a CSE-hosted reception, and boot scootin’ parties.

Thank you to everyone who attended SunDAC and joined us on the Stampede grounds. We look forward to another summer of networking in 2024!


August Highlights

The CSE Open

In August, we hosted the 2023 CSE Open, which brought together friends and colleagues for a fun day of golf at the scenic Wooden Sticks Golf Club.

Along with being a great opportunity for networking, bonding, and working on our golf swings, we also supported two important causes: the Centennial Infant and Child Centre Foundation and Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides

And what helped make the event a hole-in-one were our event sponsors: Independent Trading Group (ITG)MNP, and Dog and Pony Studios, as well as:

We look forward to playing another round next year!

View the album: The CSE Open 2023

Baseball Classic

We also had a great time taking our friends and clients out to the ball game at the 2023 CSE Summer Baseball Classic. 

Vancouver’s Nat Bailey Stadium was the perfect setting for a summer baseball game, with the Vancouver Canadians and Hillsboro Hopps engaged in a thrilling showdown. It was wonderful connecting with colleagues and clients, and to show our appreciation for their enduring support.

Our sponsors irlabs, Odyssey Trust, SmallCap Communications, Capital Tides Vancouver Investor Cruise by Investor.Events, International Deal Gateway, and Stockhouse, helped make this event a home run.

Enjoy these photo highlights from this unforgettable day.

View the album: The CSE Summer Baseball Classic 2023


September Highlights

2023 Precious Metals Summit Beaver Creek

In September, the 2023 Precious Metals Summit Beaver Creek brought together professionals from the investment and mining spaces for panel discussions, presentations, and networking at a beautiful mountainside setting in Colorado. 

We were proud to sponsor and attend this premier, invitation-only independent investment conference, and the CSE’s Richard Carleton, CEO; Anna Serin, Director of Listings Development for Western Canada and US & Vancouver Branch Lead; and Phillip Shum, Director of Listings Development had a great time connecting with friends and colleagues.

Several CSE-listed issuers were also in attendance at the event, including:

Plus, we had the pleasure of teaming up with MNP and MLT Aikins to host a daily social hour during the summit at the CSE Hospitality Suite. It was a fantastic way to network in between one-on-one meetings and other scheduled networking events while enjoying refreshments.

Thanks for having us!

View the photos: Beaver Creek 2023

Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine: The Precious Metals Issue

At the Precious Metals Summit Beaver Creek, we premiered the 2023 Precious Metals Issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

This issue explores the definition of “precious” in today’s world, which seems to be taking on new meaning as energy-linked metals rise in prominence to feed the growing shift toward cleaner technology, and features the stories of precious and critical metals companies focused on bringing world-class jurisdictions to the limelight, from North America to West Africa.

CSE-listed companies featured in this issue include:

Rob Cook, the CSE’s Senior Vice President of Market Development, is also highlighted in this issue and shares his insights and trends in mining and the capital markets.


October Highlights

Family Office Showcase – London, England

We were thrilled to travel “across the pond” to sponsor a family office showcase in late September in London, hosted by Global Partnership Family Offices and presented by International Deal Gateway (IDG). 

CSE-listed issuers, Discovery Lithium (CSE:DCLI), Hillcrest Energy Technologies (CSE:HEAT), and Gemina Laboratories (CSE:GLAB) also presented at the event.

Ahead of this exciting showcase, the CSE’s James Black sat down with Liz Priestman, CEO and Director of IDG, on The Exchange for Entrepreneurs Podcast. 

The two discussed IDG’s role, family offices benefits and differentiators as investors, the focus on the UK, advice for CEOs, and IDG’s plans and success stories of companies they’ve worked with.

Watch now: Liz Priestman on Finding a Fit with Family Office Capital | The CSE Podcast Ep16-S3

International Mining and Resources Conference – Sydney, Australia

The CSE team journeyed to the land down under for the renowned International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Sydney, Australia. 

At this renowned mining event, now in its 10th year, the CSE’s Richard Carleton, CEO, and Anna Serin, Director of Listings Development for Western Canada and US & Vancouver Branch Lead, had the chance to enjoy presentations covering the entire mining value chain and network with global mining leaders, resource experts, and leading companies.

It was great to be joined by CSE-listed companies, United Lithium (CSE:ULTH) and Inflection Resources (CSE:AUCU), and to celebrate United Lithium’s victory at the pitch competition!

During the conference, Richard Carleton was also given a moment in the spotlight in an interview with Kitco Mining. Richard discussed the current state of the mining sector, raising capital as a Canadian miner in Australia, and major economic trends. 

Thanks for having us!

Read now: ‘Tremendous number of new projects’ in the critical minerals space: Canadian Securities Exchange CEO


November Highlights

Red Cloud Fall Mining Showcase 2023

We were proud to be an event sponsor for the Red Cloud Fall Mining Showcase, in partnership with PearTree, on November 7–8 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel in Toronto.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this action-packed event. It was great to connect with colleagues and friends in the mining space and meet with attendees from around the world.

Plus, CSE-listed companies, ACME Lithium (CSE:ACME), CDN Maverick Capital (CSE:CDN), Kuya Silver (CSE:KUYA), and Latitude Uranium (CSE:LUR) were in attendance.

A special thank you to Red Cloud and PearTree for having us and for putting on such a great showcase. We’re looking forward to the next one!

MJBizCon

Thanks to everyone who joined us at MJBizCon, which took place at the exciting Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas! It was great to participate in this action-packed event, explore the exhibition floor, and dive into the current state of the cannabis landscape.

Plus, CEO of the CSE, Richard Carleton alongside Anil Mall, Director of Listed Company Services, and Phillip Shum, Director of Listings Development for Toronto, had the opportunity to connect with innovators, executives, and entrepreneurs alongside issuers in the cannabis space.

Thanks for having us and inspiring us to “dare to grow”! We’re thrilled to share our photo highlights from this exciting event.


Hillcrest Energy Technologies: Perfecting Clean Energy Breakthrough (That could soon be coming to an EV near you)

electric car, electric vehicle parking, charging point, EV charging point

Hillcrest Energy Technologies Ltd (CSE:HEAT) is a Canadian clean tech company playing a role in the global shift to green energy. The company specializes in optimizing electrical systems, such as those used in electric vehicles, with its proprietary Zero Voltage Switching (ZVS) Inverter Technology, a cutting-edge approach that minimizes switching losses.

Hillcrest’s in-house power electronics hardware and control firmware combine to enhance efficiency, performance and reliability in electric systems – think control systems and power conversion devices for next-generation electric and fuel cell vehicle powertrains, charging applications and renewable energy systems.

In the booming electric vehicle (EV) market, Hillcrest’s ZVS Inverter Technology, along with its Enhanced Powertrain Solution, eliminates the need for an onboard charger and booster, and thus simplifies the charging process.

With EVs set to represent up to 18% of the global car market this year, according to the International Energy Agency, Hillcrest is driving innovation for lighter, more compact and more efficient solutions. This aligns with government initiatives and automakers’ electrification targets, such as General Motors’ US$35 billion investment and its ambition to have 30 electric models globally by 2025.

In an interview with Proactive, CEO Don Currie highlighted Hillcrest’s role in helping to shape the future of electrified systems worldwide.

Don, two years ago we’d have been talking to you about petroleum. What was behind Hillcrest’s shift from oil and gas to clean energy technologies?

We realized that the company had to shift from oil and gas because the sector wasn’t feasible for a small company any longer. Money was not easily available, and the investment world wasn’t behind it. We started looking at a strategic transition into clean energy and began that transition around March 2020.

Clean tech and clean energy had the interest of almost 100% of the investment community. We needed to find a niche that made sense for us. Our advisor at the time, now our Chief Technology Officer, Ari Berger, thought the company would benefit from focusing on power conversion technologies, such as inverters. Zero voltage switching is agnostic to the application and can work in renewables, solar and electric vehicles, where members of our team are extremely well connected.

What is the challenge that manufacturers face where inverters such as yours could come into play?

Soft-switching is a major focus for our company. Right now, nearly all electric vehicles in the world use hard-switching inverters. While they offer efficiency benefits, there are trade-offs involved. However, we have successfully developed the world’s first commercial prototype of a soft-switching inverter.

Soft-switching allows our ZVS inverters to operate at higher switching frequencies and eliminate losses associated with switching. One of the European original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) we are working with, for instance, is looking to lower electromagnetic interference (EMI) to a level where protective shielding would not be needed. Our initial tests indicate that we can meet or surpass this requirement, potentially saving them $200 to $225 per car. With production volumes of a single model of 100,000 units per year, that could translate into potential savings of $22 million. Alongside improved efficiency, our ZVS soft-switching technology delivers cost savings for OEMs, developers and manufacturers while enhancing convenience for consumers.

Would it be correct to say that it translates into not only a lower cost model, but also one that is more reliable and longer lasting?

Let’s consider the immediate impact of our technology. One EV manufacturer said that a 1% increase in efficiency translates to a 2% range increase. Our inverter, with its 99.48% efficiency, has shown up to a 13% increase in motor efficiency during our tests. This could potentially result in a 26% boost in range for consumers. While it’s uncertain whether manufacturers will pass on the savings to consumers, increased efficiency can reduce battery size and extend range. This directly benefits consumers who want a quicker return on investment. Our technology shortens the payback period, making EVs a more economically attractive choice for buyers.

The global inverter market is expected to see a huge amount of growth over the next few years, to $95 billion by 2028. What’s behind these numbers?

That $95 billion encompasses all uses of inverters, not just EVs, and translates to 5% annual growth. The actual EV inverter market is projected to reach $11.5 billion by 2027, which is about 23% annual growth. It makes sense because all the automotive manufacturers are moving toward full electrification, and it’s happening at an incredible pace. The growth is there and so is the market.

Take us through your commercialization strategy. You have several projects in development. When are they going to translate into revenue?

Well, we have ongoing commercial development deals with seven companies at different stages. These deals typically have staged milestones. The first milestone involves demonstrating the technology and ensuring its compatibility with their application. We recently announced the achievement of milestone one with a global tier one supplier, which is a significant step toward milestone two, and then moving toward milestone three where we expect definitive commercial agreements to be discussed.

We also have a partnership with Hercules Electric Mobility, which we expect to progress quickly. Additionally, we have publicly mentioned a European OEM that is providing a motor to our German partners for integration with our technology. We are now working closely with them to meet their specific requirements.

We anticipate starting definitive commercial agreement discussions with some, if not all, of our partners in the third and fourth quarters of 2023. After that, we’re expecting revenue to start flowing in 2024. Revenues are expected to climb through 2025 with significant revenue growth projected to occur into 2026 when the technology could be deployed in actual models.

At volume, and depending on the specific application, our inverters will be competitively priced and expected to be roughly the same cost as inverters currently on the market – around $1,000, depending on the currency exchange rate. If an OEM requires 100,000 units per year for a particular model, that translates to a contract value of approximately $100 million. Once we reach definitive agreements and have clarity on the numbers, the revenue ramp-up will be rapid.

Another important benefit of our inverter that sets us apart is the potential for our customers to offset the cost of purchasing our inverter with up to $700 in material savings across the powertrain system.

What are you working on in terms of R&D?

The inverter technology itself has undergone rigorous testing, and we have successfully demonstrated to the European OEM that the EMI tests meet or surpass the required protective shielding standards. Currently, our focus is on developing grid software technology in the lab. Our goal is to combine the benefits of our inverter technology with the new grid software into a proof of concept for an enhanced powertrain solution by the end of this year.

In the context of a vehicle, the powertrain encompasses the motor, inverter, batteries and onboard charger. We firmly believe that we can eliminate the need for an onboard charger, resulting in cost savings for manufacturers and more efficient, bidirectional charging capabilities for customers. This enhancement requires the installation of grid-related software, a task that is expected to be completed late Q2 or early Q3 this year. The bidirectional nature of this powertrain allows it to not only draw power from the grid for charging but also feed power back into the grid. By eliminating the onboard charger, the convenience and availability of charging options for users are significantly increased, which forms part of our enhanced powertrain solution.

Looking ahead, we are planning for the 2024 release of a multilevel power inverter, which involves utilizing a string of 250 kilowatt, 800 volt inverters. This configuration is specifically designed for grid-related applications with significantly higher power requirements. As we approach the end of 2023, we will actively engage with interested parties who have expressed their readiness to explore how our technology can be applied to their specific applications.

As the CEO of a clean energy technology company, what drives you?

I have never felt this level of excitement in my professional career. The industry we are involved in is growing faster than anyone imagined it would and every day brings new and positive developments. What drives me the most is the industry’s response to our work. Firstly, it’s all about the team. In such a short period, we have assembled an incredible team with world class connections. It’s astonishing what we, as a collective, have achieved in just two years – going from an idea to proof of concept and now having commercial prototypes.

What truly excites me is the demand for our product around the world. The reactions we receive from the industry are overwhelmingly positive, which in turn makes it easy to maintain a positive outlook. Watching the team consistently meet and surpass every milestone we set for ourselves, publicly and internally, is nothing short of thrilling. Every day at work is enjoyable and rewarding.

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about Hillcrest Energy Technologies at https://hillcrestenergy.tech/

Nextech3D.AI: On trend with multifaceted AI/AR technology for e-commerce

They say that timing is everything, and it’s especially true when launching a new business.

In 2018, Wall Street veteran and serial entrepreneur Evan Gappelberg founded Nextech3D.AI (CSE:NTAR) on the idea that augmented reality (AR) and 3D modelling would become of central importance to e-commerce.

An astute technology trend spotter, Gappelberg’s Nextech3D.AI is the right company, in the right place, at the right time. Its diversified AR and AI technology is enjoying strong demand, particularly for 3D WebAR photorealistic models that online retailers use to market products more effectively.

The company has a major presence in the United States, among other markets, with a long list of high-profile clients ranging from Amazon to Kohl’s and Target.

Nextech3D.AI recently reported first quarter 2023 revenue of $1.3 million, up 40% sequentially, as 3D model revenue climbed 550% year over year. 

Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine caught up with Gappelberg to talk about how Nextech3D.AI is riding breakthrough generative AI technology to become a player in the US$100 billion 3D modelling wave set to sweep through retail over the next decade.

You founded what is now Nextech3D.AI in January 2018 with a vision that AR/3D was going be a megatrend. It seems that everything has panned out exactly the way you saw it. How do you feel?  

I feel vindicated! The pandemic in some ways derailed my vision. In other ways, it accelerated what was happening. It felt like we were first being pushed in another direction completely. But after the pandemic, once the dust had settled, it seemed like 3D and AR had moved into high gear. The demand started picking up and clearly things were moving faster than before the pandemic. 

I feel pretty good coming up with the business idea back in 2018 and spotting the trend early — it is really exploding right now. With my decades of training on Wall Street, I can spot technology trends fairly early. I knew that AR/3D was going be a megatrend in the shift to e-commerce. 

Nextech3D.AI is a top provider of AR Wayfinding technologies and a 3D model supplier for hundreds of brands. How big is the market opportunity?

We’ve been building toward this moment for five years. We are standing in front of a $100 billion dollar 3D modelling market, tucked inside the $5.5 trillion global e-commerce ecosystem, and we plan to take full advantage. Everything that’s being sold online today and everything that’s going to be sold online in the future is going to have a 3D model, or digital twin. That represents a huge multi-decade opportunity. 

In fact, I saw an article which said that by 2040, 95% of all commerce is going to be conducted online. Most importantly, shopping in 3D has been proven to lead to 40% lower product returns, a 93% higher click-through rate, and a 250% boost in conversions. It’s metrics such as these that are driving the rapid adoption of everything 3D.

Last year, Nextech3D.AI won a $6.7 million 3D model order from Amazon Prime Marketplace. How is that going, and what are some of your other contract wins?

Our relationship with Amazon continues to get better and better. We started working with them in the third quarter of 2022. We were in a trial stage, really a testing phase, and we passed with flying colours, and we signed a three-     year contract with Amazon. We just reached a major milestone by delivering more than 20,000 3D models as the company’s preferred 3D model supplier. Amazon is the biggest fish in the e-commerce ocean. They are the whale of whales.

We also do business with American retail giants Kohl’s and Target. All told, we are a supplier to over 100 brands and companies. We supply 3D models to Procter & Gamble, Dyson and many other top companies, though no single one really compares to Amazon.

Talk about your journey as a public company now that Nextech3D.AI has been around for a few years. 

Since we have no institutional ownership in our stock and company, we get a distortion in value. It’s essentially retail investors deciding what price our stock is trading at in a volatile market. You look at a $100 billion opportunity, a tech company that has breakthrough generative AI and has landed the largest e-commerce customer in the form of Amazon, and yet we still only have a market cap of $51 million.

Tell us about the launch of your new generative AI technology that can create 3D models from text prompts.

We have technology that we are developing in-house that’s generative AI, and we’re really approaching this from multiple angles where you can use a text prompt and just type in “leather” or “couch”, indicate whether it’s shiny leather or matte leather and the AI will create that swatch that can then be draped over a 3D model. These technological advancements allow us to scale the production of 3D models, which is exactly what’s required when you are dealing with giant customers like Amazon. 

With generative AI, we are creating an increasingly wide and exponentially growing moat: the more models we make, the larger the moat. I believe that we are at the point where the value of Nextech3D.AI goes up with each new 3D model we make, creating a virtuous cycle of growth and value.

ARway was spun off from Nextech3D.AI in October 2022. The company says its goal is to exit 2023 with a $10 million sales pipeline. Are you seeing strong demand for ARway’s wayfinding technology?

We are in late-stage negotiations with blue chip companies and governments. Verizon is one of them and Tanger Factory Outlet Centers is another. The Canadian Armed Forces, believe it or not, is another entity that is testing out the technology. These are all enterprise contracts, and they’re all very impressed by the technology. It’s only a matter of time before the dominoes start falling and customers start signing bigger contracts.

Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters has posters with phrases like “Done is Better than Perfect” and “Move Fast and Break Things.” Do you have motivational mottos at Nextech3D.AI?

Take extreme risks to enjoy outsized rewards. That’s kind of our motto. It’s the way I live my life. You only live once, right? Taking a risk means you actually make a decision, commit, be strong and create something beautiful with your dream.

Why is Nextech3D.AI a company to watch?

Nextech3D.AI gives investors an opportunity to get in on the ground floor with a CEO who has public market experience, a track record of success and is the single largest shareholder in the company. In other words, he puts his money where his mouth is.

You’re also investing in a company that has proven itself on the big stage by doing business with heavy hitters like Amazon, Procter & Gamble, Kohl’s and Target.

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about Nextech3D.AI at http://www.nextechar.com/

Critical Infrastructure Technologies: A Communications Solution for Disasters, Defence, Mining and More Prepares To Break Into the Big Time

One can hardly turn on the news these days without learning of some event around the world that has displaced large numbers of people and knocked out essential services.

While some debate the cause, one thing’s for certain: climate change is occurring. Armed conflicts play havoc with communications and power networks as well, of course. Getting communications back up and running in these environments can literally be a matter of life and death.

Critical Infrastructure Technologies (CSE:CTTT) is ready to help with a platform that lifts itself off a flatbed truck and sets up in extreme conditions, launching a communications network from atop a 16 metre mast so that residents, emergency workers and others can easily connect with one another again. Nexus 16, as the platform is called, has everyday commercial applications as well.

Chief Executive Officer Brenton Scott recently joined Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine from the company’s head office in Fremantle, Australia to discuss the many uses of Nexus 16 and the outlook for adoption by the industrial and government sectors.

It is not uncommon these days for unforeseen events to cut off power and electronic communications. What products do you offer to help companies and countries manage these situations?

You raised emergency services, in essence, and then there is also mining, and the third sector we are targeting is defence.

With emergency services, any natural disaster is likely to knock power out, and when power goes down, your fixed infrastructure goes down with it. Fixed communications towers generally have a four-to-eight-hour backup power supply, but after that you are going to lose those towers.

Telcos over-cater with their cellular networks such that operating radiuses overlap. If one goes down, another one can pick it up. But with a widespread power outage, it can all go down.

We provide a solution that is a fully autonomous, self-deploying mobile communications platform.  You can deploy it within 30 minutes and restore a whole communications network, using satellite if need be, or we can tap into a fixed communications tower that is operational about 50 kilometres away and bring the signal back. And if you put multiple platforms around, it will form a mesh network that creates a much broader telecommunications system.

Our platform basically gets moved around on a flatbed truck and will lift itself off the truck. The driver does not have to get out of the vehicle to deploy it in bad conditions. External systems can monitor and control everything.

The emergency application is clear. What about in mining?

As miners move more and more toward autonomous haulage, which is driverless vehicles, they need a stable communications network on site. Effectively, they need a 4G or 5G network to operate their vehicles.

If they have a communications blackout, and this happens in pits occasionally as the pit expands and deepens, they will experience black spots. If an autonomous vehicle goes through a black spot, communication is cut and every single vehicle in the train of vehicles stops. Big miners value stoppage in production in the millions of dollars per minute, so they can’t have this happen.

A lot of them put as many fixed towers around sites as possible. But as pits expand, they can’t put a fixed solution on the edge because the shape is constantly changing.

Our system is easily moveable, so if the platform is near a blasting area, for example, you just move it out of the way.

How about on defence?

Let’s use Ukraine as the defence example. The Russian Federation is targeting fixed infrastructure, so they are taking out power sources. That creates a communications problem both on the battlefield and from a humanitarian perspective.

We have had multiple meetings with the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine. Ukraine’s Ambassador to Australia has been to our office and seen a demonstration of the product. And last September, I went to Poland and met with members of the Ukrainian defence ministry attaché and showed them the product. We are in frequent contact to see how Nexus 16 could help and how we might get platforms to Ukraine.

The beauty of the product is that we supply a platform that goes up 16 metres, and it is fully mobile with a retractable mast. We are marketing it as a communications platform, so we put our radars and everything on top to provide a telecommunications network.

We were asked what else could go on top of the mast. The answer is anything that weighs less than 250 kilograms. It could be used as a surveillance system with cameras on it. You could put it up 16 metres to have a look around, and you could pull it back down and move the platform, just like a periscope in a submarine. You could put a drone detection system on top. You could have a mobile airport control tower.

Where do you see immediate demand coming from, and will there be ongoing demand from one sector and then event-driven demand layered on top of that?

We are moving from R&D into commercialization and are building our first two platforms. We have shown the product to a number of large mining companies in Western Australia and are in discussions with one of them to purchase one of the first platforms for a specific need they have.

The first unit sold to a big mining company would be a significant event, and we think we are close to achieving that. Once that happens it should give us traction in the mining field. And then we’ll build based on demand. We see mining being a big market for us.

On emergency services, we have met with the Western Australian Minister for Emergency Services and also with representatives from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services. They are fully aware of the problems in the event of a natural disaster. When the fires spread around Western Australia, townships were concerned there was no communications network to be able to warn first responders and residents of fires that were coming. The government should be buying platforms to cover the whole region.

The recent budget from the West Australian Premier revealed that during the last year, the state government received AU$11.1 billion in mining royalties, which works out to $30.4 million per day. If a cyclone hit the northwest of Western Australia and took out infrastructure at mine sites or at the port, every day they can’t load a ship it costs the state $30.4 million. They can buy 10 of our platforms and it is an insurance policy against $30.4 million per day.

With defence, we are working with Ukraine. We are talking with Australia’s federal government as well, which is looking to increase its defence capabilities. The government just brought out a strategic review and part of that is ensuring that the northwest of Western Australia has adequate infrastructure in place.

Because of the AUKUS agreement between Australia, the US and the UK, the three countries are working to provide much better protection in the Indo-Pacific region. We think there is potential to sell product into the AUKUS partnership as they take up occupancy in remote islands, for example, to make sure they have a presence and eyes and ears in the region.

Talk to us about the design challenges you overcame to ensure Nexus 16 was ready to work in tough environments.

The team came together about two years ago with lots of experience in communications. Our design challenges were around making it the size of a 20 foot sea container, and having four robotic legs that lift it off the truck and settle it back down and stabilize it to hold a 16 metre mast. Some people liken it to a Transformer – it comes out of this 20 foot shape and the whole thing comes to life with the push of a button.

We created a walk-in control room to house batteries and any other computer equipment required. There are dual generators with diesel tanks in case the batteries go down. We have a solar array on the roof.  

The tower can withstand near-cyclonic winds up to 140 kilometres per hour. And if the wind gets over a certain level, the mast will automatically retract to protect itself. We have more redundancies built into this product than you can imagine.

How does this all come together as a story that people should follow?

We think the product speaks for itself. Is the product going to sell? Absolutely the product is going to sell. It is a true global product targeting three very good sectors: mining, emergency services and defence.

It’s a product that is also recession-proof, in our view. Mining doesn’t stop. Miners continue to look at creating efficiencies within their networks to get their commodity out at the lowest possible price in the shortest possible time frame. When commodity prices weaken, they don’t stop. They keep producing but they look to improve their margins, and we are a product that can help them with that.

Emergency services will always be there. Natural disasters seem to be happening more and more often. We are in the right place to be able to provide a local solution for communications outages.

On defence, every single Western military is improving defence capabilities and looking at having redundancies in place. And we fit well within the defence sector.

Any investor is going to look at what the company does, what are their opportunities, what is their product, is it any good, is it scalable, do they think they can sell the product.  I think we tick a lot of boxes. We have good forecast margins, and we hope to sign our first contract soon. And our upcoming secondary listing on the OTC will give US investors easy access to our shares.

Now is the time that investors would be looking at us and doing their due diligence. We are pre-revenue but have de-risked the business and things are moving quicker than we thought. As we do generate sales and contracts and all of that, I would hope to see that reflected in our valuation.

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about Critical Infrastructure Technologies at https://citech.com.au/

BIGG Digital Assets: Diversified Company Portfolio Positions This Cryptocurrency Innovator to Succeed in All Environments

The future of cryptocurrencies lies in a compliant and regulated ecosystem, according to BIGG Digital Assets (CSE:BIGG), a diversified, “compliance-first” crypto company.

The Vancouver-based group adopted this ethos in 2019 and has since made it its motto of operations, Chief Executive Officer Mark Binns told Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine in a recent interview.

Given catastrophes of late in the crypto space that include the collapse of crypto exchange FTX and the failure of crypto lender Voyager Digital, governments are pushing for regulation to better protect consumers, says Binns.

“The market is moving toward us. The need for products of our nature, a compliant nature, is rising, and the existence of non-regulated entities in the space is decreasing,” Binns notes.

“To operate in Canada, we follow very strict regulations for the storage and security of our customers’ data and their crypto assets, so that makes us safer than other, non-regulated exchanges.”

BIGG Digital works across three different areas within the cryptocurrency space: trading, forensics and Web3/Metaverse.

“We invest in and run businesses that we believe can profit from a compliant and regulated future of cryptocurrency,” Binns explains.

Additionally, BIGG Digital’s operations are agnostic to crypto prices. Regardless of a digital asset’s value, the company generates revenue from crypto transactions and its forensics and Metaverse deals, sheltering it from the sector’s price volatility.

“You can have access to multiple different plays inside the crypto universe by investing in BIGG Digital Assets, with the security of diversity as well,” says Binns.

“If one sector is hotter, like crypto trading, we have a trading platform, or if trading is a bit quieter and the US government is pushing for crypto regulations, our crypto forensics business would be stronger.”

The company also has minority investments in crypto tax software company ZenLedger and lightning network developer LQwD Fintech, in addition to having about 200 bitcoins on its balance sheet.

BIGG Digital wholly owns and operates one of the few regulated cryptocurrency trading platforms in Canada, Netcoins.

In fact, the company’s leadership actually helped Canada pioneer its cryptocurrency regulations, working with regulators as far back as 2018 toward robust crypto trading regulations to ensure customers’ investments are safe and secure within exchanges.

The holder of restricted dealer licences approved by the British Columbia Securities Commission and Canadian Securities Administrators, and a money services business designation from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, Netcoins offers investors easy access to cryptocurrencies through compliant and regulated brokerage services.

Following its success in Canada, Netcoins launched in the United States in California, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Virginia in December 2022, followed by Utah, Kentucky, Colorado and Kansas in the first quarter of 2023.

“We’re going to continue pushing into the US market, which is moving toward a regulated and compliant model,” Binns says.

BIGG Digital also plans to continue adding products to its Netcoins offering. “We expect to add staking for our customer base and more assets, more coins,” Binns says.

Through another of its businesses, Blockchain Intelligence Group (BIG), BIGG Digital provides tools to law enforcement that help to reduce crypto crime.

Among its offerings is Qlue, a technology designed for law enforcement, investigators and compliance that can track blockchain transactions, and BitRank Verified, which provides risk scoring of Bitcoin and Ethereum addresses and transactions for financial institutions, cryptocurrency exchanges, Bitcoin ATM operators, audit firms, retailers and funds.

BIG also offers cryptocurrency training to organizations. Its clients so far include employees at major banks such as Scotiabank, TD Bank, CIBC, BMO, Citibank and HSBC, as well as entities such as the US Secret Service, the US Drug Enforcement Administration and Interpol Singapore.

“Our customers range from police forces in small towns all the way up to the US government,” Binns explains.

Binns believes that as Bitcoin and crypto grow in relevance to the broader financial system, they will also be used more in crime. “That’s just an unfortunate fact,” he notes.

As a result, law enforcement and governments globally will need to have a better handle on what is going on, Binns says, so BIG’s products will become more valuable.

Binns also points out that BIG faces limited competition within the crypto forensics space and that there are high barriers to entry for new companies.

“We have 3 billion attributions on our blockchains, pieces of data that anonymize the blockchain dating back to 2015, and probably $25 million in investment, so it’s very hard for a startup company to come into this space,” he explains.

“The players are set and the pie keeps getting bigger which, in turn, is going to make our market share by dollars bigger. Every time we go into a pitch, there may be only two or three competitors pitching for that business, not 20.”

In the months and years to come, BIG intends to add more blockchains and coins that it can track with its crypto forensic tools, as well as to enhance the tools’ other features.

BIGG Digital also believes the upside on the Metaverse is huge, which is why the company holds a 30% stake in Web3 company TerraZero.

“When Facebook renames itself Meta you know that there’s a reason and a significant amount of investment going in,” says Binns.

Run by Dan Reitzik, the founder of DMG Blockchain Solutions, TerraZero generates revenue from a range of Web3-related services, including land purchase and resale, land leasing and renting, virtual asset design, land brokering, statistics and predictive analysis, and event hosting.

The company has carried out brand activations in the Metaverse for big names such as cosmetics conglomerate Estée Lauder and beer brand Miller Lite.

Binns says that brands are increasingly seeking to interact with their customers in the Metaverse.

“We went from Web1 where they pushed messages to customers, to Web2 where they interacted on social media, and now Web3 is going to be the virtual environment,” he explains. “It won’t be uncommon for every major brand in the world to have a presence in one Metaverse or another in the next few years.”

Binns says he expects big things from TerraZero, with the company set to go public in the next month or two. “I expect to see significant growth from them on the revenue side in the coming months and years.”

While BIGG Digital is agnostic to crypto prices, Binns is confident Bitcoin prices will top six figures in the next crypto bull run.

He believes the next Bitcoin halving, which is projected to occur about a year from now in April 2024, will be a significant catalyst for digital assets like Bitcoin. “Bitcoin is currently sitting around US$30,000, and I believe the future of Bitcoin is in excess of $100,000 in the next bull run and even higher in the future. Today’s bear market will give way to another bull market, but I don’t know if that will be in six months, 12 months or 18 months. But when crypto runs, it usually runs very aggressively.”

“We keep building our business and adding customers, and when the bull market hits, we’ll be able to take advantage of that.”

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about BIGG Digital Assets at https://biggdigitalassets.com/

BioHarvest Sciences: Revolutionizing the Health Industry With Botanical Synthesis

Imagine a world where we harness the power of plants to improve human wellness without harming the environment. Israeli biotech innovator BioHarvest Sciences (CSE:BHSC) is turning this vision into reality through its Bio-Plant CELLicitation plant cell technology, which is paving the way for a new era of sustainable and highly effective botanical compositions.

BioHarvest’s patented technology sets the company apart from traditional agriculture by producing botanical compositions without the need to grow the entire plant. These compositions are rich in primary and secondary metabolites such as proteins, phenolics, terpenes, steroids and alkaloids, which are of significant value to the nutrition and health industries. The botanical compositions produced through BioHarvest’s platform technology are highly bioavailable, consistent, pure, patentable and environmentally sustainable.

One of the company’s notable successes is its flagship product VINIA, a botanical composition derived from red grape cells that contains high levels of polyphenols, particularly piceid resveratrol.

VINIA has undergone multiple clinical trials and has proven to be effective for various therapeutic applications, having gained recognition for its ability to increase arterial dilation, improving blood flow throughout the body and supporting heart health, physical energy, mental alertness and cellular protection.

“The current global market for nutraceuticals is approximately US$160 billion and it is growing rapidly,” BioHarvest Sciences Chief Executive Officer Ilan Sobel tells Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine. “VINIA is uniquely positioned in this market because of its clinically proven efficacy and its successful track record with consumers over the last three years.”

Sobel says BioHarvest aims to achieve market share of at least 5% in the US cardiovascular and energy health segments within the next 36 months.

CELLicitation involves growing cells from different parts of the plant in liquid solutions inside large disposable bioreactors, and the platform has already been validated across multiple plant-derived compositions. The process allows BioHarvest to produce cells that contain the plant’s primary and secondary metabolites, known as phytochemicals, in a controlled and efficient manner.

And the company is building undeniable momentum. In 2022, BioHarvest reported revenue of US$5.5 million, a 179% increase from the previous year.

For 2023, BioHarvest anticipates revenue of $17 million to $20 million, which works out to around 300% growth compared to 2022. It also expects to break even at a cash operating level in the fourth quarter.

BioHarvest’s customer base is largely subscription based, and customer satisfaction is high, with a current rating of 4.8 out of 5 from over 2,200 reviews. The company plans to further expand its sales channels, including partnerships with major retailers such as Walmart.com, Amazon, and direct-to-doctor sales through integrative medicine specialists.

“We have announced the addition of 25,000 [direct-to-consumer] new customers in the last 12 months, and our current growth is limited only by our production capacity, which we are increasing significantly,” Sobel adds.

To support the anticipated growth, Sobel says the company’s newly designed production facility has annual production capacity of 20 tons, which is enough to meet its global operations plan for the next two years. The company is currently in the process of scaling up production to reach the maximum capacity.

Plans also call for building a larger facility with a capacity of 100 tons per year. To aid this expansion, BioHarvest recently hired Dr. Ilana Belzer as its first Chief Operating Officer to oversee manufacturing, including the development of new technologies to improve yield and reduce production costs.

Furthermore, the BioHarvest Sciences CEO says the company is diversifying its product channels by developing new formulations that incorporate VINIA into coffee, tea and protein bars. These are set to be available in late 2023 and early 2024.

BioHarvest is also looking to grow through other channels, particularly sports partnerships due to the obvious benefits its products can provide to athletes.

“Our recent partnership with Yo Murphy of the House of Athlete is an example of a unique program, where we just saw four of his ‘Team VINIA’ NFL prospects selected in the 2023 NFL draft,” Sobel says. “The partnership is a significant milestone for BioHarvest and demonstrates the potential of its innovative technology to revolutionize the sports nutrition industry.”

More partnerships and programs are in development, which includes VINIA being added to the NFL pre-season training regimens of over 140 players.

The company holds 15 approved patents covering its unique process and compositions. Additionally, the team’s accumulated know-how from 15 years of research and development further strengthens its position as a leader in the field.

“BioHarvest’s technology is poised to make a big difference in the health and wellness industry by availing patentable botanical compositions for therapeutic purposes that can be in the form of nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals,” Sobel explains.

He says BioHarvest aims to lead the botanical synthesis revolution by utilizing the power of plants to improve human wellness while at the same time prioritizing environmental sustainability, which is evident in the company’s plans to leverage its expertise in research and development, manufacturing and commercialization.

BioHarvest is already working on expanding its product line to include additional products, with olive and pomegranate cell banks at the advanced development stage. A robust clinical trial program is underway, as the company tests product impact against specific medical indications. These clinical studies are designed to not only potentially augment the functional claims for different products but also to further the potential for those products to ultimately be included in pharmaceuticals, as either approved drugs or adjuncts to approved drugs.

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about BioHarvest Sciences at https://bioharvest.com/

Railtown AI Technologies: Software Engineers Get a Co-Pilot to Help Navigate the Inevitable Turbulence of Development

Artificial intelligence is everywhere right now, and in the tech sector, thousands of entrepreneurs are looking for a way to plug AI into their business models.

The problem is that anyone who’s gone back and forth for more than a few minutes with a bot such as ChatGPT knows one thing: its responses are full of errors.

For AI to be truly useful, it needs to be trained effectively and have a defined purpose. Railtown AI Technologies (CSE:RAIL) has not one product but three designed for software developers that meet those criteria.

The company’s proprietary AI has been in stealth development for three years under the direction of Chief Executive Officer Cory Brandolini and Chief Technology Officer Marwan Haddad, a pair of self-described software geeks who became fast friends at a previous company and partnered up.

Their raison d’être is making it easier for developers to create new software and manage ongoing projects.

The first offering is Railtown’s Root Cause Analysis Co-Pilot, which is designed to detect bugs within applications and then quickly pinpoint the root cause of the errors and the impact on the application.

Right now, 40% of a software engineer’s time is, on average, spent identifying bugs and fixing them. It creates an enormous manpower challenge, according to Haddad. He and Brandolini once installed a fire engine light in the bullpen at their previous company that would go off whenever an issue arose. Senior engineers would drop everything to figure out what was wrong, at times taking hours to diagnose the root cause of the error and the impact it had on the application, resulting in delayed deliverables and pushing schedules behind.

Root Cause Analysis eliminates the mad dash to comb through every line of code. The Root Cause Analysis Co-Pilot hooks into the developer’s machine, where it spots errors before they reach production and immediately determines the root cause and ticket where the problem originated.

That’s why Brandolini says the company doesn’t design bots – it builds co-pilots.

“No matter how strong your team is technically, no matter how senior your developers are, when you’re building complex applications they are still fraught with functionality, logic and syntax issues,” he explains. “We’ve got it to the point today where AI can do a ton of the heavy lifting for you.”

The British Columbia-based company has also built an application to streamline the process of documenting product updates and enhancements, which are known in the industry as release notes.

Writing release notes takes an enormous amount of time for a team lead to produce, as they have to sift through dozens, if not hundreds, of completed work items to summarize and then write digestible release notes that can be consumed company wide. This is where Railtown’s Release Notes Co-Pilot comes in, as it is continually analyzing all new software deployments, as well as any changes made to software which will trigger the co-pilot to automatically generate comprehensive and accurate release notes. The net result is saving hours of developer downtime.

The Root Cause Analysis Co-Pilot and the Release Notes Co-Pilot are now available to over 400,000 Microsoft partners on the Microsoft Azure Marketplace and at Railtown’s website.

Then there’s Scrum Master, currently in the alpha stage of development, which could be Railtown’s crown jewel.

Scrum Master is a co-pilot in the truest sense of the word. Utilizing Railtown’s AI engine, the Scrum Master Co-Pilot can provide reason-based answers related to a wide range of topics including work items, deployment issues, build errors, bug fixes, performance issues and much more. Developers can ask the Co-Pilot specific questions or describe the problem that they are facing, and the Co-Pilot will provide relevant and actionable information to help solve the problem.

Brandolini calls Scrum Master a targeted language model, in contrast to large language models such as Open AI’s ChatGPT or Google’s Bard AI. Integrating Railtown’s proprietary AI into a development team’s builds, code changes and work items creates a more precise learning environment than any large learning mode could dream of.

“ChatGPT and Bard are trained off of what’s readily available and free, so any painting by Picasso or any book written by T.S. Eliot, they can train their machine on it. But they don’t have access to what goes on inside a company’s own specific applications,” Brandolini says.

“Because our AI is integrated with a company’s projects, our machine is now training on that data. Where Open AI’s is trained on the internet, our co-pilot understands exactly what you and your team are building and can answer questions in real time.”

It also keeps a developer’s data from being exposed to the broader internet, which means companies get the benefit of AI without exposing proprietary information to the prying eyes of Big Tech.

Scrum Master could even be used to onboard new engineers by delivering them detailed information on application features and answering any questions they might have.

That simply doesn’t exist in the market today, say Brandolini and Haddad, and it wouldn’t be as close as it is today if the two hadn’t become good friends.

“We were on a family holiday together in Whistler and sat down over a glass of wine. Marwan says, ‘I’ve got this idea,’” Brandolini explains. “I was like, ‘I’m in 100%.’ Life works that way by chance, but when both people have the common drive and our goals are the same, then it’s an instant connection.”

The plan is to release Scrum Master in the next quarter.

“Version one was like a child in elementary school. Now, version six or seven is like a university professor,” Brandolini exclaims. “It went from learning how to understand what a bug is to where it’s now using knowledge and reason to generate answers. Ask any developer if they would like this running for their team and the answer will be 100% yes.”

To help make that a reality, Railtown plans to ramp up spending on market awareness and user acquisition starting in June. The company expects a significant increase in paying customers and revenue growth over the next two to three quarters.

“This is not a bubble; this is just the beginning of the AI generation,” concludes Brandolini. “Artificial intelligence is having, and is going to continue to have, a profound and positive impact across all of our lives and across every business. The question investors should be asking themselves and asking their financial advisors is ‘what is my AI investment strategy’?”

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about Railtown AI Technologies at https://www.railtown.ai/

Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine: The Technology Issue – Now Live!

Welcome to the latest issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine, your source for in-depth stories of entrepreneurs from a wealth of different industries.

Just two months after being released publicly in November 2022, OpenAI’s ChatGPT grew to 100 million users. For the more than 800 listings on the CSE, over 100 of which are technology companies, the opportunities for AI to effect change are numerous, and investors and entrepreneurs are understandably fixated on the new opportunities that such potent technology opens up.

In this issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine, we feature six CSE-listed technology companies that are getting ahead of the curve with innovations to solve tomorrow’s problems today, from emergency communications to plant-derived nutraceuticals to cryptocurrency forensics.

The CSE-listed companies featured in this issue include:

Check out the Technology Issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine here:

Li-FT Power: Explorers Will Race to Find Lithium Over the Next Decade, and Li-FT Intends to Lead the Field

A swath of land lies nestled in the Northwest Territories, not far from the capital city of Yellowknife, where hard rock lithium pegmatites literally stick out of the ground. They’ve been there for a long time, but few people had reason to take notice.

Now known as the Yellowknife Lithium Project, the site was acquired by Li-FT Power (CSE:LIFT) in November of this year. Covering 14 mineral leases that host numerous spodumene-bearing pegmatite, the area was held privately for 35 years.

Sufficient exploration was conducted to demonstrate the world-class lithium resource potential of the dyke systems on the leases. However, the properties lay dormant because lithium had yet to become the vital commodity it is today. 

That’s about to change.

Li-FT Chief Executive Officer Francis MacDonald believes the lithium market is entering a window of unprecedented potential to generate returns on investment. Lithium-ion batteries are powering a technology revolution that will leave the carbon economy behind. A supply crunch has driven up prices. 

That has created plenty of jockeying for territory, plus a race to reach production before supply catches up to demand. 

“The world needs more lithium,” MacDonald states plainly. “Lithium is not especially rare; it’s just that the transition to electric mobility supporting the fight against climate change drastically increased demand for lithium-ion batteries. So, one of the key things now is getting projects into production quickly.”

Li-FT is working with the Indigenous communities in the area to do just that. The company is currently in the initial permitting and engagement phase, and once that is complete, the intention is to conduct a substantial drill program as soon as possible to confirm the world-class resource potential is valid. 

If things go to plan, drilling under the lithium pegmatites on the surface would deliver enough data to put out an inferred resource estimate after just one pass, likely in the first half of 2024. 

When the dust settles, this could be one of the largest lithium deposits in North America if what’s visible on the surface goes down to depth at 300 metres, MacDonald says. 

The last company to work on the area was Equinox Resources, one of billionaire mining entrepreneur Ross Beaty’s companies. Equinox was acquired in 1993 by Hecla Mining, which was focused on gold exploration, not lithium.

“This was the early nineties. Lithium was used for ceramics and very special niche markets. No one cared about lithium,” MacDonald explains. “After the acquisition of Equinox, Hecla didn’t have any interest in advancing lithium projects, so they just reverted back to the private company.”

Prior to Li-FT, which named him CEO before making the Yellowknife acquisition, MacDonald spent the earlier part of his career as an exploration geologist with Newmont Mining working in the Canadian Arctic and Africa. In 2016, he co-founded Kenorland Minerals, a North American greenfield exploration company.

Most of his previous work was in gold, but in recent years, MacDonald has been drawn to lithium projects. In addition to the metal’s rise in value, lithium projects are quicker to reach the feasibility stage, he says. 

For example, a 2 million ounce gold project can require between 500,000 and 1.5 million metres of drilling to reach feasibility. That’s a lot of money and a great deal of time. 

Lithium pegmatites, by contrast, need as little as 15,000 metres to reach feasibility, which in turn means a much more attractive return on exploration dollars. 

The reason, MacDonald says, is hard rock lithium’s high grade and structural continuity. In other words, you don’t need to drill as much to be confident about what’s beneath the surface.

“These pegmatites, they’re cracks that go for two kilometres, and they’re just consistently 20 or 30 metres wide,” he says. “The structural geometry is a lot more continuous, and the grade is more homogenous as well.” 

Other projects just aren’t like that. A vein of quartz, for example, could pinch out and be much shorter than anticipated. To get the same level of confidence requires a lot more drilling. 

The value of lithium, the amount a given company is sitting on and the speed with which projects can reach feasibility are going to define the sector over the next decade. Li-FT is in a race, and MacDonald likes its chances.

“Everyone’s asking for lithium properties now,” he says. “And at some point in the future – 2030, 2035 – supply is going to satisfy or even exceed demand.”

In the meantime, Li-FT is getting its permits in order. That starts with showing the local Indigenous communities that this project will bring economic benefits to the region. 

Communication is key, and MacDonald doesn’t take that lightly. 

“This is traditional land,” he says. “And who am I? I’m a guy from Nova Scotia who lives in Munich saying, ‘I want to drill something in your backyard.’ I always think: if someone came up to my parents in Nova Scotia, and they didn’t sit down, have a cup of tea with them and explain what they were proposing, my parents would be pretty annoyed.”

Listening to what has worked, and what hasn’t, with past mining projects helps create a win-win for everyone. Plus, if the experience is positive, that makes the next project easier to get off the ground. 

Eventually, if some of the pegmatites go toward a positive feasibility study and eventually into production, that’s when an impact and benefits agreement could come into play, MacDonald says, helping the affected First Nations communities.

In addition to Yellowknife, Li-FT controls a combined 228,237 hectares of ground across a trio of greenfield lithium pegmatite projects in Québec: Rupert, Pontax and Moyenne. Those projects are prospective for lithium pegmatite too, but it’s a totally different strategy and will play out over time.

But at Yellowknife, the lithium is actually sticking out of the ground. Someone just needs to take a drill to it and define the extent of what is there.

“It’s one of the most interesting exploration opportunities out there right now because it sat in a private company for 35 years for the right group and the right time,” MacDonald concludes. “We just need to show what is below the surface.”

This story was featured in Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

Learn more about Li-FT Power at li-ft.com