London technology company EXAR Studios, working with TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario and Old East Village BIA, has been selected as a recipient in the Digital Main Street Lab program, focused on collaborations that spark transformations for main streets.

Developed as an innovative tourism solution, EXAR Studios’ Engage app guides users through historic and cultural learning adventures in augmented reality (AR).

Supported by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) as well as the Government of Ontario, Digital Main Street will provide funding and resources to EXAR Studios as they embark on a pilot project to help develop AR experiences for local arts and culture businesses in London’s Old East Village. The London pilot project in collaboration with Old East Village BIA and TechAlliance will run through March 31, 2021.

“When we started the journey to create Engage, our AR app, we started by asking ourselves how our technology could serve the small business community struggling as a result of COVID-19. We held a conviction that beauty, interactivity, arts and culture, history, local stories and a narrative of hope for the future – could be the mechanism for uplifting what ‘local’ truly means,” said Ben Switzer, co-founder of EXAR Studios.

“We understood that small businesses are a cornerstone of what is uniquely local and irreplaceable, so we resolved to enhance the special quality of that community experience through augmented reality and other interactive technologies, like IoT,” Switzer added.

Working with Digital Main Street as part of the DMS Lab is a major milestone in our goal to engage communities through technology, highlighting our collaborative and inclusive spirit while further empowering us in our mission to serve main street businesses and cities.

Ben Switzer, co-founder of EXAR Studios

In their work with EXAR Studios’ pilot in Old East Village, the TechAlliance and Digital Main Street team will focus on empowering main street businesses to adapt futuristic experiences for tourism and local exploration that showcase heritage and culture in a smarter, greener, and fun way.

EXAR Studios’ cast of innovators have opened the door to new possibilities in tourism with the Engage app. This contemporary means to experience the region has catalyzed collisions within our vibrant community, further demonstrating our collective promise to enabling entrepreneurs as we recover. TechAlliance is committed to our role as a delivery partner and amplifier for Digital Main Street in Southwestern Ontario, working alongside local partners like Old East Village BIA in London, ON, to foster some of Ontario’s most promising startups and fuel transformation for main street businesses.

Christina Fox, Chief Executive Officer of TechAlliance

In response to a rapidly changing business landscape, Digital Main Street Lab’s distinct mission is to enable Ontario’s neighbourhood businesses to thrive amid disruption. By activating local networks throughout the province, forward-thinking technology companies can launch their solutions to help main street businesses transform, while receiving feedback in real-time.

As part of the Digital Main Street Lab program criteria, through their Venture Growth team, TechAlliance will advise EXAR Studios during the pilot to ensure scalability across Ontario.

“COVID-19 has had a profound impact on our local London economy,” said Kate Young, London West MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. “The Government of Canada is pleased to support the Digital Main Street initiative and this project with EXAR Studios. With a strong delivery partner in TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario, local businesses in the tourism and culture sector are able to adapt in today’s changing economy.” MP Young continued, “In meeting the co-founders of EXAR Studios over the summer months during the pandemic, I was inspired by their pivot and am pleased that their growth will bring a unique tourism opportunity to Old East Village.”

To learn more about the Digital Main Street Lab program and submit an application, please visit Studios is a digital creative technology company dedicated to improving cities and communities. To learn more about EXAR Studios, please visit