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With international names such as Amazon and Huawei setting up in Ottawa, the Canadian capital is carving out a name for itself as a magnet for ICT and a frontrunner when it comes to 5G research, as Jason Mitchell reports.

Ottawa has established itself as an internationally recognised centre for R&D in ICT, with more than 90% of Canada’s telecommunications-related research happening in the city.

Some of the world’s leading wireless telecoms network equipment makers – including Ciena, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia and Huawei – have centres located in Ottawa. A considerable proportion of the research is dedicated to innovation around 5G networks. 

Tech surge

“Over the past five years, Ottawa has seen a surge in the technology economy,” says Blair Patacairk, vice-president, global expansion, at Invest Ottawa, the city’s inward investment agency. “With the likes of Amazon setting up a fulfilment centre here in Ottawa, coupled with home-grown companies such as Shopify, the city has become the centre of attention with the right mix for a vibrant ecosystem.

“Invest Ottawa’s global expansion team has been very targeted on markets of interest that line up with our sector strengths. The strategy is paying off in spades and we are attracting great companies to our region, such as Syntronic from Sweden and Aurrigo from the UK.”

By April 2018, Swedish design house Syntronic had a total of 200 employees in Ottawa. The firm has moved to a new 2200-square-metre building in which it has invested C$6.2m ($4.6m) of its own money, plus C$600,000 from the province of Ontario. This will create 45 new jobs in Ottawa over the next five years.

Also, in April, Aurrigo, the UK’s leading self-driving vehicle specialist, opened a new sales and technical office in the centre of Ottawa and is now seeking academic and industry partners to support the testing and development of its innovative autonomous vehicle technology. The firm has already enlisted research leaders at Carleton University in Ottawa to work on trials on its campus.

“Invest Ottawa has been very supportive and has assisted us in finding a suitable location in the heart of the city and introducing us to possible partners,” says Aurrigo CEO David Keene. “It has really made the process a lot easier and we are delighted that we can now start turning the discussions into actual trials – moving autonomous vehicles being used in Canada one step closer.”

Ottawa, Canada’s national capital with a population of 970,000, has 77,000 people employed in the ICT industry. Some 980 companies in the sector are located in the city. 

Doing the research

Ottawa’s ICT cluster has a host of R&D facilities, including the Communications Research Centre, a federally funded centre of excellence specialising in wireless telecoms; Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre, the only pure-play optical fabrication centre in North America; the Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks; David Florida Laboratory, the Canadian Space Agency’s spacecraft assembly, integration and testing centre; and Defence Research and Development Canada, the country’s leader in defence and security science and technology. 

It is also home to several other incubators and research centres, including the National Research Council of Canada and Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network.

Ottawa is cultivating world-class expertise in technology fields such as cybersecurity, connected cars and autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, machine learning, wearables and the Internet of Things.

A large number of annual conferences in the ICT industry take place in the city, including Conference on Security and Defence (in February 2019); IoT613 Conference (in early 2019); Canasa, Security Canada Expo (in May 2019); and CAV Canada, Autonomous Vehicles (September 2019). 

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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