Kanata North – Home to small companies with big ideas (and big companies with bigger ideas)
By Emily Mathisen
THE KANATA NORTH Technology Park has not always been what it is now: home to more than 21,000 skilled employees and responsible for contributing over $7.8 Billion to Canada’s GDP. But, since the founding of Mitel in 1972, the Park has been a great place to take your small business global.
Over 500 businesses are based in the Park, and some of them are doing truly fascinating things. From You.i TV, the app provider behind TV apps for brands like the Cartoon Network, Fox, and the NBA; to Solace, the company behind American Express’s quick credit and purchase authorizations, you may have used many of the technologies built in Kanata North without even realizing.
“Kanata North is unique in its concentration of talent,” says Jamie Petten, Executive Director of the Kanata North Business Association. “Technology products are being brought to market from here. Global companies, like Time Warner and Daimler, are investing. A lot of these partners and enterprise customers have a footprint around the world.”
Businesses are growing so fast that it can be a challenge to keep supplying that pool of skilled, prepared workers. “We’re always thinking, how do we continue to attract, nurture and maintain talent,” says Petten. “We’re working with amazing customers and have amazing opportunities. We’re world leading in many ways. We need to keep bringing in the best people.” To do this, the Kanata North Business Association has developed strong relationships with postsecondary institutions, including developing co-op and internship opportunities, so students are ready to take employment after they graduate.
Companies in the Park are seeking to maintain momentum and success, and quickly, because they’re not just producing technology that you use today, they’re producing technology that you may use in the future.
Solace, founded in 2001, makes technology that enables open data movement. This August, Solace announced it would be powering Daimler’s “Mercedes me” app, which will allow users to do things like park their cars while standing outside their vehicles (amongst others).
In fact, the Kanata North Technology Park is building a lot of technology like that. “We’ve become a vibrant and active hub for autonomous vehicles and testing,” says Petten. The Park has one of Canada’s only public test tracks for autonomous vehicle technology and was the first one to connect to live City infrastructure.
BlackBerry QNX, whose software is used in more than 120 million vehicles, including Toyota, Audi, BMW, and Ford brand cars, led the initiative to create the test track. But other companies, like Cohda Wireless and Nokia, have also been involved; many partners are working to make driverless cars an everyday occurrence.
“The technology will lead to the future of self-driving vehicles in Canada,” says Petten.