Invest Ottawa Drives the Future with the Launch of Area X.O

Posted in Blog, News, Press Releases
Oct 13, 2020

Area X.O logo and Invest Ottawa logo.

Government of Canada and Industry Partners Contribute Almost $17 Million to the Futureplex of Innovation and Collaboration

Ottawa, Ontario – October 13, 2020: Invest Ottawa, lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada’s Capital, today announced:

  • The launch of Area X.O, the futureplex of innovation and collaboration. Evolving from the Ottawa L5 Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Test Facility, and established and managed by Invest Ottawa, Area X.O enables and accelerates the safe and secure development, testing and application of next-generation technologies across many sectors.
  • Almost $17 million in new investment for Area X.O. This investment includes $7 million from the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), and nearly $10 million in in-kind contributions of technology, services and expertise from industry partners including Accenture, BlackBerry QNX, the City of Ottawa, Ericsson, Hexagon | AutonomouStuff, InDro Robotics, Kongsberg Geospatial, Microsoft, Nokia and TÜV SÜD.

This new investment in Area X.O builds on anchor support contributed to the Ottawa L5 from the Government of Ontario through the AV Innovation Network (AVIN) and founding industry partners over the last two years, creating a future-ready innovation facility currently valued at more than $29 million. It enables the development of next-generation technologies, new companies, top tech talent and high-value jobs, helping to drive our economic recovery and long-term economic growth.

Established and managed by Invest Ottawa, Area X.O fuels the creation, commercialization and adoption of breakthrough innovations in mobility, autonomy and connectivity that benefit our community, economy and environment. These applications span telecom, smart agriculture, defence, security and public safety, unmanned aerial vehicles, and smart cities.

Combining diverse expertise with Ottawa’s telecom and cybersecurity strengths, Area X.O helps local, national and global startups, SMEs, multinationals, and governments address grand challenges and opportunities. It equips them with the novel capabilities required to accelerate tech development, testing and application as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible in a single location. The Area X.O team brokers linkages to new domestic and international customers, investors and suppliers, and helps firms access critical global supply chains and increase their share of target world markets

Quick facts on new investment in Area X.O

The new investment in Area X.O catalyzes technology development, commercialization and future global export opportunity for innovators and SMEs in Canada’s Capital and across the country. It supports new capabilities that increase the customer, investment and market-readiness of innovators and firms at this technology playground, including:

  • A new, fully equipped 5G mobile command centre with drones capable of deploying a standalone and secure 5G network anywhere and anytime – without any external connectivity. The first of its kind, it supports first responders and rural innovation by allowing SMEs to test and validate solutions in their location;
  • New cybersecurity technologies that help SMEs proactively identify vulnerabilities and enhance the security of their innovations;
  • The expansion of one of the most advanced communications test systems in the world that enables broader connectivity and more diverse technology development, testing and applications;
  • Additive metal printing and manufacturing for specialized prototyping to enable rapid and cost-effective technology development and commercialization;
  • An onsite operations command centre that enables a one-of-a-kind, unified real-time view into all smart city assets across Area X.O including drones and autonomous vehicles, which increases situational awareness, safety and security of all projects, operations and personnel on the site;
  • An autonomous vehicle with a custom innovation platform that enables SMEs to integrate, test and demonstrate their solutions, and verify how they perform in a real-world environment;
  • An authentic railway crossing and mobile dummy test targets that enable precise and repeatable test scenarios between autonomous vehicles and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists;
  • Level 2 and 3 charge electric charging stations that are modular with the ability to scale for future high-speed charging of vehicles; and
  • Enhancements to safety, security and operations at Area X.O that address SAE International standards, enabling a broader array of clients to conduct R&D and testing at the facility.

Featured Quotes

“While we fight against the global pandemic, we are also focused on the future, and on building back better and stronger. The leadership shown by Invest Ottawa will not only help us keep pace, but will help to keep Ontario and Canada on the cutting-edge of mobility innovation. Today’s investment from FedDev Ontario to bring globally unique capabilities to Area X.O will provide businesses with the tools they need to bring their next generation solutions to the world and create the skilled jobs of tomorrow.”

  • The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“The enhanced capabilities at Invest Ottawa’s Area X.O, made possible by support from FedDev Ontario, will support the next generation of digital infrastructure and help to grow our regional economy and create good local jobs.”

  • The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre

We are proud to support the expansion of Invest Ottawa’s L5 program through the launch of area X.O. Our government’s support of the AV Innovation Network (AVIN) has allowed for initiatives like the L5 program to flourish and grow. Invest Ottawa has continuously been at the leading-edge of Automotive Vehicle innovation in Ontario, and the launch of Area X.O. will mean new opportunities, top-level jobs, and the domestic development of new AV technology as we continue to become one of the foremost AV hubs in the world.

  • Honourable Victor Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade, Government of Ontario

“I am thrilled about FedDev Ontario’s investment in Area X.O.  This funding enables new capabilities for innovators and firms at the Ottawa Smart Farm located in the heart of this facility. This support for new precision agriculture and other future technologies in the nation’s capital will further strengthen our capacity as a global technology hub, and, more importantly, it will help drive our city’s long-term economic recovery.”

  • His Worship Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa

“Area X.O builds on our inception as the Ottawa L5 Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Test Facility and establishes a bold vision: to unleash and realize the potential, power and impact of visionary technologies to improve our world and human lives. Area X.O will enable diverse innovators and firms to develop, test, commercialize and export their solutions across many high-growth global markets. These include smart mobility, advanced communications, smart agriculture, defence and security, and smart cities. This critical federal investment will help us to achieve this vision, and increase the competitiveness of the companies we serve, and Canada’s economy more broadly.”

  • Michael Tremblay, President and CEO, Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards

We operate one of the most advanced communication test infrastructures in the world with many GPS systems, 4G/LTE, WiFi, LoRa, TV White Space, 5G (including mmWave) and satellite communications. Area X.O also uses Band 14, the communications spectrum specifically reserved for first responders, enabling a host of public safety, security, defence, aerospace and mobility related tests and projects.  For companies developing ground-breaking technology and services in these sectors, the ability to leverage these communications systems to test and validate their technologies is a real game changer.”

  • Kelly Daize, Director Area X.O, Invest Ottawa

“We are grateful to FedDev Ontario, Invest Ottawa and their collaborators for the invaluable opportunities provided to Autoguardian by SmartCone through Area X.O. This collective support helped to catalyze the creation of our company. Our continued growth and evolution stems from their belief in our parent company, SmartCone Technologies, from its very inception. Through Area X.O, Invest Ottawa has provided us with access to new technologies, partners and market opportunities. This has enabled us to create new jobs, generate initial sales, and further develop our vulnerable road user technology for the betterment of all.”

  • Tenille Houston, CEO AutoGuardian by SmartCone, Client Company at Area X.O

“SMATS Traffic Solutions provides traffic data analytics to better monitor and manage traffic congestion. Our integrated analytics and sensory tools have allowed traffic management offices to make informed data-driven decisions on more efficient use of their infrastructure capacity. Area X.O has been a great help in developing and testing our technologies. We are grateful to Invest Ottawa for providing us with access to new technologies and unique testing facilities at this site. With the power to collect, analyze, and interpret traffic data in real-time, SMATS aims to change the way traffic flows, for the better.”

  • Amir Ghods, PhD, President and CEO, SMATS Traffic Solutions, Client Company at Area X.O

“GPS Ontario has served as a pioneer in the precision agriculture industry for the last two decades. We promote complete farm solutions from hardware to data management, providing a completely tailored solution for farmers in Eastern Canada and support for growers across North America. The Ottawa Smart Farm at Area X.O provides our firm with critical validation and demonstration space that outfitted with the advanced technology, expertise and industry Best Management Practices (BMPs). We aim to demonstrate and educate growers about how to make agriculture more sustainable and profitable, and leverage technology to grow more with less.

  • Jordan Wallace, Producer; Owner, GPS Ontario; National Trainer, Trimble

“At Playground Global we invest in frontier technologies. We know first-hand that no single advanced technology can be developed or deployed independently. This is the very reason I am so enthusiastic about Area X.O, the futureplex of innovation and collaboration.  Invest Ottawa has built infrastructure that enables the development and validation of advanced technologies in a real-world environment. They have achieved this in partnership with all key stakeholders: startups, major corporations, researchers, governments and regulators. I am excited at the prospect of collaborating further with Invest Ottawa at Area X.O as we work to bring improbable technologies to life.”

  • Sasha Ostojic, Operating Partner, Playground Global, Venture Capital Firm in Silicon Valley

Backgrounder: Featured Partner Quotes

“While it’s only been around for a little more than a year, Ottawa’s L5 Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Test Facilities have enabled us to accelerate our AV testing and overall work to develop safe and secure autonomous vehicle technologies. With FedDev Ontario’s support, the new Command Center represents a significant advancement in terms of what the facility is now able to offer and we’re thrilled that both BlackBerry Jarvis, our binary code scanning solution that provides deep security insights and our Quantum Resistant Code Signing Server will have a starring role, allowing transportation industry players to push the limits of our technology in a safe, controlled environment with a view to securing their connected and autonomous systems now and into the future.”

  • Grant Courville, VP, Products and Strategy, BlackBerry QNX.

“Accenture has been privileged to work together with Invest Ottawa over the last 18 months to support Area X.O’s business strategy, operational model and cloud environment. Founded on technology, expertise and attributes that are unique to Ottawa, this facility is the first of its kind in the world. Leveraging these strengths, Area X.O brings together multidisciplinary organizations and innovators to develop and commercialize digital solutions for Canada’s Capital, communities across Canada and around the globe. We recognize that government support and continuing investment in digital technologies is critical to address our challenges and fuel innovation for future generations.”

  • Dave Telka, Managing Director, Public Service Strategy and Consulting Lead – Canada, Accenture

“Ottawa is uniquely positioned to help local and global innovators address key challenges facing the agriculture sector. In addition to our deep technology expertise, Ottawa is the only large city in Canada with more than 1,000 working farms. Internationally known for our research capacity, our region is also home to many regulatory agencies, research centres and the Greenbelt, including 4,000 hectares of high-quality agriculture land leased to producers. Area X.O brings these capabilities together at the Ottawa Smart Farm. We are proud to serve as an investor and partner in this critical facility, and the value it is delivering to farmers, producers and agri-tech firms.”

  • Geraldine Wildman, Program Manager, Natural Systems and Rural Affairs, City of Ottawa

“Ericsson is a global leader in 5G and sees autonomous vehicle solutions as one of the lead use cases for 5G deployment. Ericsson is proud to be a leading technology provider for Innovation Ecosystems here in Ottawa. Our participation in AVIN and ENCQOR 5G has led to meaningful engagements and relationships with Invest Ottawa, the City of Ottawa and the Small and Medium Business community. It is through the thought leadership and agility that is prevalent in Innovation Ecosystems, like Area X.O, that Ottawa and Canada will take the great leaps forward required to digitally transform our way of life.”

  • Marcos Cavaletti, Head of Ericsson Ottawa

“Area X.O is a significant development that recognizes the potential of autonomous systems to impact both on-road and off-road applications, providing engineers a test bed to develop autonomy that improves safety for motorists and makes a variety of industries more efficient and sustainable.”

  • John Buszek, Vice President of Products and Services, Hexagon | AutonomouStuff

“InDro Robotics is a Canadian leader in drones with a strong and longstanding relationship with the first responder community. We are proud to have played an instrumental role in the creation of the Area X.O 5G Mobile Command Centre. InDro Robotics is contributing novel drone technology and expertise to this innovative and fully equipped van. Moreover, we have expanded to Ottawa to fully capitalize on opportunities at Area X.O. We look forward to bringing these capabilities to innovators, firms and communities across Ontario. We are confident it will empower first responders in new ways, and catalyze innovations in public safety, defence and related industry verticals.”

  • Philip Reece, CEO, InDro Robotics Inc.

“We’re proud to be part of the important research and technology development being conducted at Area X.O. Our IRIS UxS ground control station for unmanned systems was created to help safely operate drones and autonomous vehicles beyond visual line-of-sight. Area X.O is working with first responders to help effectively integrate unmanned systems into a variety of emergency operations, including search and rescue.”

  • Ranald McGillis, President, Kongsberg Geospatial

Today stands as a proud moment in our continued partnership with Area X.O as we witness autonomous vehicle projects powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud come to life. The innovative applications supported by Microsoft for Startups coming out of this facility continue to attract top tier talent and have far-reaching benefits to Canada’s competitiveness and leadership in this space, as well as the future of transportation and mobility as a whole.”

  • Lisa Carroll, public sector lead, Microsoft Canada.

“We have been long-term partners with the team at Area X.O and Invest Ottawa more broadly. We continue to support their mission to drive growth for Ottawa businesses. With our shared philosophy on leveraging technology to expand opportunities in Canada, we look forward to this next step. The combination of our unmatched expertise in private wireless deployments and the Nokia Drone Networks will bring 5G to life for people and organizations across the country.”

  • Shawn Sparling, Vice President of Enterprise and Public Sector, Nokia Canada

“Telesat applauds the investment by FedDev Ontario in Area X.O as well as Invest Ottawa for its leadership in building a world-class coalition of leading technology partners. We are eager to showcase how our transformational Low Earth Orbit satellite network will expand the geographic reach of 5G networks, autonomous vehicles, and bring affordable high-speed connectivity to every Canadian.”

  • Dan Goldberg, President and CEO, Telesat

About Area X.O

Area X.O is the futureplex of innovation and collaboration in Canada’s Capital that enables and accelerates the safe and secure development, testing, and application of next-generation technologies. Combining diverse expertise with Ottawa’s telecom and cybersecurity strengths as a tech hub, Area X.O helps local, national, and global startups, SMEs, multinationals, and governments address grand challenges and opportunities. It fuels the creation, commercialization and adoption of breakthrough innovations in mobility, autonomy and connectivity that benefit our community, economy and environment. These applications span telecom; smart agriculture; defence, security, and public safety; unmanned aerial vehicles; and smart cities. Established and managed by Invest Ottawa and evolving from the Ottawa L5 Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Test Facility, Area X.O leverages critical support from world-class founding partners. These include: the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, the City of Ottawa, Accenture, BlackBerry QNX, Ericsson, Microsoft, Nokia, and Ottawa’s post-secondary institutions.  For additional information, please visit:

About Invest Ottawa

Invest Ottawa is the lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada’s Capital, facilitating economic growth and job creation in the City of Ottawa. Guided by a vision to help realize Ottawa’s full potential as a globally recognized, innovative and future-ready city, Invest Ottawa delivers venture development, global expansion and talent programs and services that catalyze the growth and success of entrepreneurs and firms. These include small business training, mentorship, acceleration for technology firms, foreign business and investment attraction, local business retention and expansion in targeted sectors, commercialization, and marketing Ottawa’s diversified economy and high quality of life. Invest Ottawa is also the founder and manager of the Area X.O, the futureplex of innovation and collaboration. Since 2012, Invest Ottawa has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs and companies; helped firms attract more than $666 million in capital; contributed to the creation of more than 9,714 jobs; and attracted $862 million in domestic and foreign investment. For additional information, please visit:

Media Contact

Sonya Shorey

Vice President, Strategy, Marketing and Communications

Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards


[email protected]

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