The Canadian government is withholding the remainder of its $18.3 million (CAD$24 million) investment into North after The Verge reported that the company laid off 150 employees this week. North is also being asked to return the money it’s already received from the investment. The funding withdrawal was first reported by Canada-based publication The Logic.
Canada’s innovation minister, Navdeep Bains, said the government’s investment remains a “repayable contribution” and that all future payments have been suspended. The government is now working with North to establish “the best path to repayment, while protecting existing jobs,” Bains said in an emailed statement. North declined to comment.
The Canadian government funded North, the maker of the Focals smart glasses, in November through its Strategic Innovation Fund, a program designed to encourage businesses to set up shop and innovate within Canada. At the time of the funding announcement, a press release stated that the money would help North expand its facility and work on future projects. It also was meant to “help secure 629 jobs.”
North laid off 150 people this week, although it’s unclear what roles were affected. In a prior statement to The Verge, a North spokesperson said the company is “proud to be headquartered and manufacturing in Kitchener-Waterloo and will continue to make it our home. We still plan to grow and build here over time.”