Ottawa’s Centre for Next Generation Networks (CENGN) will receive $63 million over the next five years as part of the Ontario government’s $650-million investments in technology announced in last week’s budget.
Aimed at facilitating the commercialization of next-generation networks such as 5G connectivity, CENGN is a collaboration between numerous organizations – some of them even competitors – in the National Capital Region. Companies such as Cisco, GENBAND, Nokia, Rogers, Fujitsu and Invest Ottawa belong to the consortium, which aims to provide guidance and access to infrastructure to small and medium enterprises in an effort to fill gaps in Canada’s telecom market.
Startups and SMEs can submit their projects to CENGN for up to $100,000 worth of support, or request business services to aid in their own R&D. The centre works on projects related to smart cities, cloud-based technologies and network security, as a few examples.
The province’s funding will go towards the CENGN Cloud Expansion Project, an endeavour to connect 18 innovation centres across Ontario. The initiative is meant to integrate startups into a regional digital economy, allowing firms to leverage province-wide networks in autonomous vehicles, aerospace, information and communications technologies, and other industries.
“This will enable SMEs and students across the province to practice and demonstrate their innovative technologies and solutions, helping to drive the development of the new digital economy,” said Ritch Dusome, president and chief executive of CENGN, in a statement.
“This major funding announcement by the Province of Ontario underscores Ottawa’s leadership in next generation networks. It’s this kind of support that will help homegrown, Canadian companies to become globally competitive,” said Invest Ottawa CEO Michael Tremblay in a statement.
“And it will help lay the foundation for new innovations in areas such as autonomous vehicles (AV), precision agriculture, smart cities and telemedicine.”
The funding comes a few months after Mayor Jim Watson and Wesley Clover International’s Terry Matthews led a group to Queen’s Park in Toronto to advocate for Ottawa as a hub for the development of 5G and autonomous vehicles. Mr. Matthews has been vocal in recent months about the importance of development 5G connectivity to the future of tech.
Though it’s unclear what correlation the province’s most recent investments have to the crusade, the funding echoes the March announcement of $102.4 million from the province in support of Ford’s investments in autonomous vehicles.
“The Government of Ontario has provided tremendous support to the Ottawa region over the last few years, and the impact of these investments is evident across the city. It is fuelling innovation and economic development that creates jobs here, but also benefits Ontario more broadly,” said Mr. Watson in a statement.