Kanata-Carleton's High Tech and Business Initiative

Published on March 21, 2019

Supporting High Technology Growth

And A Healthy Business Environment

In Kanata-Carleton

Introduction

     I have long observed that our Kanata-Carleton business community has not been given enough recognition for its contributions to our City, our Province and our Country. Kanata North is Canada’s largest technology hub and yet this remains a well-kept secret. It is time to profile the local high tech and business community so that we can create new opportunities and attract new talent, new business, and new investment. It is with this sense of positioning and advancing our local people and assets that the Kanata-Carleton’s High Tech and Business Initiative is undertaken.

     I stated through 2017 and in the lead up to the 2018 provincial election that there is more our provincial elected representatives can do to promote our local high tech scene.  For over a decade there has been little accomplished to support the development of our local high tech and business community. This has been a costly oversight. We have an important business asset that enriches our community, providing attractive jobs that sustain many families who choose to live in Kanata-Carleton. These are the facts that I discuss at Queen’s Park in profiling Kanata North and our community’s businesses and high tech industries.

     Since my election in June 2018, I have been meeting with local employers, employees, business associations, and tour companies to talk about the challenges we are facing in our business community. I have listened to business owners and entrepreneurs in Kanata and West Carleton. I have had the opportunity to host business round tables, including one at Mitel specifically looking at challenges in Kanata North.

I have met with the following companies and organizations and look forward to meeting with more in the months ahead.  Nordion | Nokia | Verizon (formerly Ericsson) | Calian | Mitel | QNX Blackberry | Renaissance Repair and Supply | Alion Canada | Spartan Biotech | Phreesia | Digital Health North | Ottawa Hospital Research Institute | CHEO Research Institute | Queensway Carleton Hospital | Royal Ottawa Hospital | Bruyere | Algonquin College | La Cité Collégiale | Willis College | Invest Ottawa | Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards | Ottawa Board of Trade | Kanata North Business Association

     Our local high tech industry is a very important community asset. Its health and growth is a priority for me. I will work to 1) better promote Kanata North and Ottawa’s high tech companies both locally and abroad; 2) help to facilitate local business attraction for greater venture capital dollars; 3) focus on greater linkages between the local business community and Ottawa’s education community; and, 4) bring broadband and greater Internet and cell services to the business community in West Carleton.

Kanata-Carleton’s High Tech and Business Initiative

4 Pillars of Sustainability and Growth

  1. Profiling the Kanata-North Footprint
  2. Attracting Venture Capital
  3. Strengthening Networks with Education Community
  4. Extending Broadband, Internet and Cell Services

     Our community has tremendous business associations that are making a difference in supporting and enabling business interests: Kanata North Business Association, Invest Ottawa, the Ottawa Board of Trade, and our local education institutions. I look forward to assisting their fine work to further develop the web of support for the Kanata-Carleton businessperson.

     Kanata North Tech Hub deserves greater attention as one of our country’s economic growth engines. Our Kanata-Carleton business community deserves greater attention for its significant contributions to our Ottawa Region and Ontario. As your representative at Queen's Park, this high tech and business initiative is my commitment to champion Kanata-Carleton's interests and garner the deserved focus on our business community. 

 

Four Pillars of Sustainability and Growth  

     1. Profiling the Kanata North Footprint

     Did you know Kanata North has a sizeable footprint?

  • Kanata North contributes $13 billion to Canada’s GDP.(1)
  • Ottawa is the country’s number one high tech-hub, hosting more than 1,750 tech companies and employing 68,500 people (roughly a third who work in Kanata North).(2)
  • Ninety per cent of all communications R&D in Canada still takes place in Ottawa, and 90 per cent of that is centred in Kanata.(3)
  • Ottawa is home to more of Canada’s 250 top information technology companies than Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary or Waterloo.(4) 
  • Financial Times has recognized Ottawa as #1 for Business Friendliness and #2 for Economic Potential for mid-sized North and South American cities.(5)  

     The Kanata North Business Association (KNBA) - https://www.kanatanorthba.com/ - has done a good job of quantifying the significance of Canada’s largest high tech business park. I am pleased to be working with the leadership of the KNBA to promote our community’s significance for the region and as an economic driver for the province and country. In its 2018 Economic Impact Analysis, the KNBA reports that Kanata North revenue contributions to government are up 47% federally, 40% provincially, and 16% municipally in 3 years.(6) The business activity in Kanata North contributes more than 10,000 jobs in other areas of Ottawa and Eastern Ontario. This is a very important footprint for our Region, for the Province and for the Country.(7)

     Kanata North major economic sectors are listed as Information & Communications Technology and Software. The emerging sectors are: Defence, Security & Aerospace, Life Sciences, and Cleantech. Just last year technology giants Apple and Amazon, and automobile maker Ford Motor Company announced new work in Kanata. And, there is the exciting autonomous-vehicle activity spearheaded by BlackBerry QNX’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre.

     As a physician I am also excited about the companies and medical associations forging innovations in health care and new developments with digital health care – such as those activities taken up by Digital Health North. I believe individuals can improve their own health care through mobile health technologies, telemedicine, and in biomedical research; it is remarkable that Kanata North and our local business and medical communities are playing a key role in advancing this Canadian innovation.

     As a side-note, from a work-life balance and quality of life perspective, it is important to also recognize that 50 percent of technology employees live within five kilometres of where they work in Kanata.(8) The KNBA reports that sixty per cent of technology workers have been in the area for at least six years, while 30 per cent have been living in Kanata for 10 years or more.(9)

     We have a story that must be told:  Other technology hubs in Canada have celebrated their story — Toronto claims to be the nation’s tech capital; the University of Waterloo is the MIT of Canada; and, Montreal possesses a vibrant energy with an European flair. It is time for Kanata North to boast of its impressive character – a dynamic tech hub with welcoming business networks and a beautiful community in which to live and raise a family.

     My MPP Community Office will support all efforts to tell “our story.” As your Kanata-Carleton MPP I will be a loud voice and advocate for our business and community interests at Queen’s Park. In profiling Kanata North, my goals will be to:

  • work with our local business networks to assist the growth of the high tech sector
  • foster and facilitate new relationships in the community and abroad
  • support business owners with a focus on eliminating their unnecessary burdens with Ontario government regulations

     I am proud of Kanata North – of its successes and its impressive character.

 

     2. Attracting Venture Capital

     Venture capital is the life line of business start-ups and of innovation and growth. Increased venture capital sustains and grows a dynamic business community. Start-up companies with a potential to grow need investment – or seed money. Companies looking to take “the next step” are often looking for expansion financing. When companies grow to a certain size, they will seek acquisition or buyout financing.  

     Aside from the necessary cash influx, venture capitalists will often provide the business with counsel and experienced management, and introduce new business connections. A business having ready access to capital will expand and grow, make innovative leaps of faith, and, ultimately, succeed on a larger scale. So, logic tells us that increasing venture capital investment in the Kanata and West Carleton business community helps to ensure greater business growth and job creation.  

     I have had the opportunity to meet with Invest Ottawa - https://www.investottawa.ca/ - and to tour the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards. President and CEO Michael Tremblay and the team at Invest Ottawa are doing good work to assist new, budding businesses and entrepreneurs. Their efforts are supporting local projects by connecting ideas with money and by navigating the investment process for local businesspeople.

     I look forward to working closely with this lead economic development agency to help foster more business opportunities in Kanata and West Carleton. I will help, where my office can, to further Invest Ottawa’s mission of providing the access to resources to help businesses establish and grow. As a source of information, my Community Office will help make the necessary connections for businesses to learn about the opportunities for venture capital assistance.

     In Toronto, I can make the necessary connections to Provincial ministries and agencies that provide business support.

     Within our local business community, I will raise awareness of the benefits of a healthy venture capital market for local business and high tech industry. Foremost in Kanata-Carleton, we want venture capital investment to allow young, growing companies with potential to become medium-sized enterprises. We are looking to expand markets, foster growth and innovation, employ more people, and generate greater profits and returned investment for our local enterprises.

 

     3. Strengthening Networks with Education Community

     For years I have advocated to strengthen the ties between local business and our Ottawa education community. In my position as MPP I want to help foster greater linkages between the high tech industries and Kanata-Carleton businesses with our education institutions and public school system. There is great potential for Ottawa’s universities and colleges to align with Kanata North and the greater business community. There is also tremendous opportunity to increase our local brain power by championing more sciences, math, data-management and computer technology in our schools.

     Recently, at a Mayor’s Breakfast Event, Carleton University President Dr. Benoit-Antoine Bacon made the case for Ottawa as an “education city.” There are many exciting announcements by Ottawa’s post-secondary institutions to suggest he is correct. Algonquin College has established a DARE District on campus, a new centre that combines an energy lab, Indigenous entrepreneurship hub, library, and analytics centre. La Cite has just opened a 40,000 square-foot Excentricite as a meeting place where local companies can work collaboratively with students on business concepts and to commercialize products. The University of Ottawa has announced a new physical presence in Kanata North – an office and classroom in Tower C at 555 Legget Drive to support greater networking between alumni, industry, researchers and co-op students working in high tech.

     As your Kanata-Carleton MPP, I hope to create helpful linkages between business and education. Specifically, over the next few years, I hope to:

  • foster and support working relationships between the local business community and Ottawa’s education institutions;
  • advocate for more math and technology-based subjects in our schools; and,
  • raise greater public awareness of the potential of an enriched learning environment with the collaboration of business and education

     I do believe our City of Ottawa – and our community in Kanata-Carleton – is blessed as an “education city.”

 

     4. Extending Broadband, Internet and Cell Services

     I hope and trust within my first term as MPP that we will see broadband infrastructure provided to the greater Kanata-Carleton business community. I want to see greater Internet services and better cell services for West Carleton businesses and residents.  Given that many of the rural neighbourhoods are only 25-40 kilometers away from the Kanata North Tech Park, it is not unreasonable to think homes and businesses will be able to take advantage of 21st Century technology.

     There has been repeated commitments at every level of government to provide greater broadband coverage throughout the western reaches of the City of Ottawa. The wards of West Carleton-March, Rideau-Goulbourn, and Osgoode have registered lower download speeds, on average, compared to the rest of the city. Internet users in our Kanata-Carleton constituency – the City’s West Carleton-March ward – are seeing the slowest download speeds, averaging   7.5 megabits per second.(10)

     I have been advised on the success of the municipality of Mississippi Mills to pilot broadband projects (the MM2020 project) and provide rural communities like Appleton, Almonte and now Clayton with greater Internet services. Ensuring reliable Internet and cell signals is a game changer for agri-industry, rural businesses and home-based entrepreneurs in those communities.  I am encouraged that our neighbours have found a way. My staff have begun background work with our local West Carleton business community and I have met with City of Ottawa Councillor Eli El-Chantiry to find the same success for Kanata-Carleton.  

     I hope to replicate the success of the MM2020 project and extend better Internet services to all rural areas of Mississippi Mills: high-speed, high-capacity telephone, TV and Internet over optical fibre. This will provide our West Carleton business community with gigabit fiber access and Internet and cell service levels that are comparable to neighbourhoods through Kanata. It will also allow for our rural communities to support efforts to develop greater public WiFi zones.  

 

A Focus on Results

     In putting down in print and publicly releasing the Kanata-Carleton’s High Tech and Business Initiative, my intent is to raise awareness of achievable, short term objectives for our community. These are objectives that will enhance and enrich the prospects of success for Kanata-Carleton’s high tech and business enterprises. I intend to work on this initiative through my years in office – and to advance the 4 pillars of sustainability and growth during this term. To keep us focused on results, I will provide regular updates on the issues identified in the months and years to come.

Kanata-Carleton’s High Tech and Business Initiative

4 Pillars of Sustainability and Growth

  1. Profiling the Kanata-North Footprint
  2. Attracting Venture Capital
  3. Strengthening Networks with Education Community
  4. Extending Broadband, Internet and Cell Services

     Ontario is open for business and the Provincial Government is working to foster new growth and expansion by supporting a more business-friendly environment.

     As your local MPP, I would like to state that Kanata-Carleton is also open for business. My Community Office is focused on promoting local assets and helping to facilitate new opportunities to strengthen our Kanata-Carleton high tech and business community. My staff and I welcome meetings with companies, organizations and individuals who wish to contribute to our efforts.  

     Again, I am proud of our community – of its successes and its impressive character – and of its current and future potential.

 

Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, MPP

Kanata-Carleton

613-599-3000

Merrilee.Fullerton@pc.ola.org

 

 

Endnotes  

  1. Kanata North Business Association: https://www.kanatanorthba.com/2018-economic-impact-analysis-confirms-critical-expansion-of-jobs-and-the-economy/
  2. RBC Community Feature (February 11, 2019): https://discover.rbcroyalbank.com/surprise-canadas-top-tech-hub-is-its-capital-city/
  3. Ottawa Business Journal feature on Kanata North (February 11, 2016): https://obj.ca/article/kanata-north-still-bustling-energy-and-opportunity
  4. Branham300 list rankings (published June 2018): https://obj.ca/article/techopia-fewer-ottawa-companies-rank-2018-branham-list-top-canadian-ict-firms
  5. Invest Ottawa facts: https://www.investottawa.ca/blog/ottawa-tops-list-of-business-friendly-cities-in-the-americas/
  6. Kanata North Business Association: https://www.kanatanorthba.com/2018-economic-impact-analysis-confirms-critical-expansion-of-jobs-and-the-economy/
  7. Kanata North Business Association: https://www.kanatanorthba.com/2018-economic-impact-analysis-confirms-critical-expansion-of-jobs-and-the-economy/
  8. Serious Tech Lives Here Report: https://www.serioustechliveshere.com/technology-business-opportunities-kanata-north/
  9. Serious Tech Lives Here Report: https://www.serioustechliveshere.com/technology-business-opportunities-kanata-north/
  10. Ottawa Citizen news article (March 19, 2017): https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/rural-web-users-have-a-need-for-speed