New $10M Innovation Centre lab to help Ottawa startups test IoT, smart city tech

Ottawa’s recently completed Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards will be receiving millions of dollars worth of advanced communications equipment that proponents say will help local startups break into some of the tech industry’s hottest emerging sectors.The project was announced Wednesday morning at a summit hosted by the Centre of Excellence for Next Generation Networks. 

The Kanata facility is a collaboration between industry, government and academia that is looking at ways to bring new communications technologies such as 5G networks to market more quickly.

CENGN chief executive Ritch Dusome likened the new facility to an “on-ramp” that will allow fledgling firms incubated at the Innovation Centre to tap in to all of CENGN’s network capabilities without having to be physically located in Kanata.

Joining Mr. Dusome for the announcement was Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who said the new research centre at Bayview Yards will give even more startups access to cutting-edge technology to test new products and concepts in fields such as “smart city” infrastructure and the Internet of Things – the term used to describe the growing web of machines and devices such as automobiles and appliances that are wirelessly connected to the Internet.  

“I want to highlight here the synergy between Ottawa’s world-leading telecom companies working on 5G research, together with Ottawa’s leading software companies working on connected and autonomous vehicle research,” the mayor said, noting that 90 per cent of Canada’s industrial R&D in telecommunications takes place in the National Capital Region. “This partnership opportunity is tremendous for our city.”

The city and Invest Ottawa will contribute matching amounts to help fund the new facility, which will feature up to $10 million worth of telecommunications infrastructure such as servers and high-speed fibre-optic equipment. 

The equipment is being provided by CENGN’s members, which include major telecom corporations Cisco, Nokia and Telus as well as local firms such as CENX and Corsa Technology.

Mr. Dusome said the new 46,000-square-foot innovation complex just west of downtown is the perfect location for the research centre since Invest Ottawa is the building’s anchor tenant and the startups it nurtures are all located there.

The Innovation Centre is “the catalyst for the SMEs, so it just makes sense to us … that would be a good place to put a (research facility),” Mr. Dusome said. “All of (the startups doing telecommunications research) are going to require very high-speed connectivity to validate that this stuff works.”