President’s Report – August 2015
A change of seasons is around the corner, making it the perfect time to unveil Invest Ottawa’s new strategic plan. Last year, we convened community leaders from across industry, post-secondary institutions, and the public sector to discuss a collective vision of the future and how to achieve it. The consensus: we want Ottawa to be the most innovative city in Canada.
Some progress to date:
INNOVATING THE OTTAWA ECOSYSTEM
During an open house in June, hundreds packed every square inch of Invest Ottawa to hear about our new strategic vision to become the country’s innovation leader.
Why does it matter? Technology is transforming the world, jobs and the skill sets that companies are looking for. The move to the “Internet of Things” has led to whole new discoveries and Ottawa is a leading global hub. It is the major cornerstone of growth for our city.
The most innovative people and the most innovative companies want to be in the most innovative cities – so we need to be one.
By 2018, we want Ottawa to be the most innovative city in Canada, where the most talented people in the world choose to work, play and grow because:
- We are an academic capital with dynamic two-way partnerships with local businesses and a special effort to connect to foreign students.
- We have created a city with a safe, yet dynamic and multicultural lifestyle for singles and families.
- We are massively connected, not just with high-speed bandwidth, but with high-speed thinking and acting.
- We have co-created all the elements of an amazing business ecosystem by collaborating and supporting each other`s growth globally, by paying forward our successes to new startups, creating larger companies and attracting global companies, and by promoting these successes with a single voice.
- We have mastered the advantages of being a G7 city, creating vibrant links to Federal Government research labs, Federal Procurement, access to 130 consulates and agencies and other connections.
It’s a bold, evolving vision for the Nation’s Capital and our message is straightforward. Ask yourself, “How can I plug into this?” To lead us down this path, IO has recruited some of the city’s top entrepreneurial talent. In May, the following highly respected community and technology leaders joined our Board of Director’s:
Susan Richards: Virtual CFO and Co-founder of Givopoly
Tobias Lütke: CEO and Co-founder of Shopify
Jason Flick: Co-founder and President of YOU.i Labs
David Ross: CEO at Ross Video
Jim Roche: President and CEO of Stratford Managers Corporation.
These entrepreneurial leaders are now giving back by volunteering their time to help make Ottawa the most innovative city in Canada.
Two key Ottawa organizations are also pushing the innovation needle. Canada’s world-class Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks (CENGN) just announced the selection of their first five industry-led commercialization projects. These cutting-edge technologies will have far reaching applications in areas such as healthcare, energy, education, financial services and the environment. The Medical Devices Commercialization Centre (MDCC), teaming up with IO and DFATD, hosted a workshop to:
- Examine services available to support medical devices commercialization in Canada
- Hear about the challenges faced by early-stage companies and also success stories
- Examine best practices to assist export and funding opportunities available.
The next milestone for MDCC will be the creation of a mentorship program to assist partner SME’s. That role will further evolve, as the commercialization centre settles into their new home at 80 Aberdeen.
Finally, we have just launched our Knowledge-Based Industry Database (we’ve nicknamed it the KBI Heatmap). It’s the first time the city’s technology ecosystem is represented in one clear interface. Users can drill down by filters such company age, or their specific technology cluster.
The goal of the map is to provide a working tool that the ecosystem can use in a myriad of ways, such as:
- Researching potential business partners in similar tech sectors
- Targeting clusters for local and international expansion
- Analyzing the current technology landscape to help refine product and service offerings
Ottawa has hosted three recent in-bound missions from India focussed on the life sciences and medical devices sector. Companies that met with IO, MDCC and Ottawa companies were:
InnAccel is India’s first medical technology acceleration company focused on innovation for low and mid-income markets. Biocon, one of the largest biotech companies in India, was looking for Ottawa firms in the Oncology and Immunology area. And Indian med tech companies, Cura, Skanray and Forus met with various companies in the life sciences cluster.
We also hosted a delegation of International Investment Development Representatives (IIDRs), from Europe, Asia and the USA that work with Invest in Ontario in-market to promote Ontario opportunities abroad. The group was given an overview of the opportunities available in Ottawa and meetings with local companies.
As usual, our #WhyOttawa presentation was a highlight among the group. An IIDR from Manchester specifically mentioned Invest Ottawa’s digital and marketing assets, as best-practice examples, when dealing with economic development clients.
STARTUPS AND PORTFOLIO BIZ
For the second time in mere months, IO helped facilitate a two week trip of hyper-networking in Silicon Valley for Ottawa start-ups. Faevo, Treasure Chest, Tattoo Hero, Koneka, Squanto and Travelabulous met with other entrepreneurs, founders, investors and other key pillars of Silicon Valley’s ecosystem.
Ottawa Start-Ups at Google HQ
Although the planning to lineup meetings, housing, travel and everything in between took weeks, George Borovec of Treasure Chest Market says it’s worth it, “The calibre (of businesses) shows you where you need to get to. The experience is invaluable”. Gracious thanks to the Canadian Digital Media Network for helping fund the trip to Silicon Valley.
Two of our exciting start-ups have graduated from the IO offices and moved into their own space. Congratulations to Spoonity and Bit Access for all their well-earned success! The timing couldn’t be more perfect for their departure, as Invest Ottawa has had a record quarter regarding the number of technology companies eager to share our space and resources. Please join me in welcoming Foodisfy, Cavara, Cindtechs, Quickily, Recognisec, CleanSimple and Brinx Software
Our annual Summer Company got off to a roaring start as well. The program provides students with resources and seed money to begin their own business. This year there are 42 companies that have eight mentors to help guide them on their entrepreneurial journey. There are no shortages of ideas there; the businesses range from clothing companies, video production firms, organic food and green products, to even longboard manufacturers. On June 24th, 20 of the start-ups showcased their companies at Staples stores around Ottawa. Congratulations to all the young entrepreneurs.
BY THE NUMBERS
Here is some recent data about our fantastic city. Feel free to shout it from the rooftops, because Ottawa continues to punch above its weight. We are always happy to hear your comments, input, suggestions and ways we can help.