We know how to start a tech revolution. We’ve done it before, and we’re doing it again.
Anyone who knows their telecom history associates Ottawa with a booming age of Canadian telecom, namely the halcyon days of R&D giants like Bell-Northern Research. Riding the wave of their influence, hundreds of tech start-ups emerged in Ottawa’s Kanata North tech park. Today, it’s home to over 500 companies, including major brands like Huawei, Ericsson, Mitel, Nokia, Ciena, and Dragonwave. It’s Canada’s largest tech park, and it’s fostering a new age of entrepreneurial spirit and growth.
Ottawa’s deep roots in the telecom industry are feeding our radical next-generation network (NGN) initiatives. There’s a new set of challenges facing the industry (5G, here’s lookin’ at you), but we understand them, and that’s what matters. With the wealth of executive expertise, talent, and R&D infrastructure in Kanata North, we’re brilliantly poised to lead the coming transformation.
What’s more, there’s an impressive amount of funding coming down the pipe to speed things along. So how will you make sure you and your teams are part of the pack that’s racing to bring about the NGN revolution? Do these government funding numbers catch your attention and rally your entrepreneurial ambitions?
- $950 M in supercluster funding
- $300 M for smart cities
- $63 M for the Centre for Excellence in Next-Generation Networks (CENGN)
Come and Play With Us
Let’s start with R&D, because that’s our thing. We birthed telecommunications decades ago, and to this day 90% of Canada’s telecom R&D happens in Kanata North. There are close to 13,000 people working at telecom companies here. Telecom is our largest tech sector, with clean tech, software, and data services not far behind. And hubs like CENGN, Invest Ottawa, Wesley Clover, and Kanata North Business Association ensure there are plenty of ways to link into what’s happening.
CENGN is a consortium of member organizations that have set aside marketplace rivalries to support commercialization in Canada. Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) sign into its e-network to play in a very enticing sandbox, alongside innovators in academia, industry, and research. The SMEs submit their NGN product or service as a validation project, and after it is accepted by CENGN, the project is worked on to prove commercial viability. The expectation is that CENGN’s R&D backing, testing infrastructure, and development know-how will usher highly desirable NGN products and services into the marketplace.
The Ontario provincial government recently announced $63 M to roll out CENGN’s Cloud Expansion Project to 18 Innovation Centres across Ontario. (And props to our city— Invest Ottawa will be a major hub.) The expansion will allow SMEs in information and communication technologies to collaborate more widely and drive innovation.
Heard of Superclusters Yet?
They’re part of the action plan. The federal government recently allocated $950 M over five years to superclusters. This is a tremendous opportunity for Ottawa and for the tech park in particular.
Superclusters are dense areas of business activity that contain large and small companies, post-secondary institutions, and specialized talent and infrastructure. They benefit economies by attracting anchor companies from around the world and generating intense growth in highly specialized fields. Kanata North is ripe for supercluster activities.
In 2017, a federal funding competition will roll out with a focus on clean technology, advanced manufacturing, digital technology, health/bio-sciences, clean resources, agri-food, and infrastructure and transportation. Did you catch the digital tech category? Keep that one in mind …
Let’s Look at 5G
5G is at the heart of this race.
Nationwide and globally, people are using more and more devices that connect to the internet. Smart phones, FitBits, residential devices. Security. Shipping. Shopping. You name it. The Internet of Things is upon us, and it’s a game changer.
That said, our current infrastructure won’t support the growth of these devices for long ⎯ not at the high speeds customers demand. Enter 5G, the infrastructure that will enable high-speed connectivity and allow the proliferation of information and communication technologies as we’ve never imagined. Essentially, it will enable more devices than we can collectively envision to connect to the internet and operate at high speeds.
The beauty of 5G is that in addition to enabling commercial products, it creates opportunities for social change. Imagine free, city-wide WiFi and kids learning to code in school. Imagine how that would level the playing field and encourage boundless innovation from the ground up. If it’s done right—and we’ll do it right—it’s a chance for everyone to access and contribute to the Internet of Things.
So 5G is the beginning. And in Kanata North, we have the skill set and the know-how to push 5G forward and drive intense innovation.
The Big Rollout
After R&D, the next step is going commercial. It’s a significant area of focus for the federal government because, frankly, it’s one of Canada’s tech weaknesses. Canada excels at R&D, but we don’t commercialize well. And the tech revolution will be a non-starter without commercially viable products rolling out nationwide.
Rest assured the NGN innovation being developed in the Kanata North Tech Park will lend support behind the scenes on the advances our country will experience in years to come.
So what will the world look like after a 5G/NGN revolution, and how will Kanata North be involved throughout the process?
Let’s consider smart cities as a single, intelligent platform that would let the city of Ottawa manage and monitor all of its services. Think of the efficiencies we could build into water meters, parking meters, city services, health care, and more. And how much would you love an app that finds the closest available parking spot downtown on a Friday night? Yeah. That’s the one that grabs everyone’s attention.
The federal government’s Smart Cities Challenge Fund will support cooperation among local governments, citizens, businesses, and civil society who want to create clean, digitally connected technology including greener buildings, smart roads and energy systems, and advanced digital connections for homes and businesses. Canada’s best tech park is in our backyard. This is our chance to rise up and capture the imagination of a country. As the nation’s capital, the City of Ottawa could lead the way by becoming the smartest city in Canada.
Then there are autonomous vehicles (AVs). Several companies are working on AVs in Kanata North, and we couldn’t be prouder that they chose to call the Kanata Tech Park home. As AVs come on the market, they will increase the demand on information networks. Let’s be ready with 5G when they do.
And let’s not forget apps. The business opportunities that will open to developers with the advent of 5G are innumerable. There’s space in this process for everyone, including gifted, solopreneur programmers without corporate backing, who are creating apps for the sheer pleasure of it. They can sell their products and expand their capacity too. Growth begets growth at every level.
Gear Up and Get Involved
Start thinking now about how you and your company can drive NGN innovation. How can you be part of this exciting intersection of private companies, academia, researchers, and hubs so the whole system benefits? In Ottawa alone, CENGN, Ericsson, and Mitel are highly involved in R&D around 5G, and that could be amplified with a groundswell of support from businesses across the tech park and eager entrepreneurs throughout the city.
So tell me … how will you benefit from this next wave of technology?