Ericsson Canada to grow Kanata workforce as part of $470M partnership with feds

Ericsson Kanata hub
Ericsson's Kanata office is its largest R&D facility in North America.

Ericsson Canada says it plans to ramp up hiring at its Kanata research and development hub as part of a deal that will see it partner with the federal government to invest more than $470 million in creating technology such as 5G and 6G networks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement Monday alongside Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne at Ericsson’s facility on Terry Fox Drive.

The project is supposed to create and provide training for hundreds of jobs in Kanata and Montreal, while establishing Canada as one of Ericsson’s global research and development hubs.

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The company says the five-year research and development partnership will put Canada at the “forefront of global development in next-generation communications technologies.”

The federal government says details about the project, including timelines and the level of public funding, will be confirmed in the near future and that discussions with the company are ongoing.

The Swedish wireless networking and telecommunications giant employs about 1,500 people in the Ottawa region. Its 270,000-square-foot Kanata site is the company’s largest R&D facility in North America. 

Eric Parsons, Ericsson Canada’s vice-president of cloud development in Kanata, told OBJ the firm wants to keep investing in its local facilities because of the calibre of the city’s wireless networking talent.

“This is really about people, bringing talent to this facility and to Montreal,” Parsons said Monday morning. “We have great facilities already in the Kanata area and we have great facilities in the Montreal area.”

The partnership with Ericsson Canada is the federal government’s latest investment in wireless technology, and follows a fall announcement on investing $40 million in the expansion of Nokia’s Ottawa facility, which is also located in Kanata North.

The funding is coming from the federal government’s Strategic Innovation Fund, which is administered by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. The recent federal budget included a $500-million top-up for the fund aimed at boosting investments in green energy and other projects to support the “clean economy.”

But some industry experts questioned the value of pumping taxpayer money into a foreign multinational like Ericsson. 

Benjamin Bergen, president of the Council of Canadian Innovators, said the feds should be putting more money into homegrown firms that will develop and keep intellectual property in Canadian hands.

“Intellectual property ownership and the ability to commercialize R&D are far more economically impactful than a relatively small number of jobs which will go to highly in-demand professionals who already have no trouble finding high-paying work,” Bergen said in a statement.

“Canada has a number of excellent companies doing cutting-edge work in important niches in the 5G ecosystem, and we would have preferred that Prime Minister Trudeau was at their corporate headquarters today, celebrating their job creation and propelling their growth instead.”

– With additional reporting from the Canadian Press

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