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The diversity of Kanata’s tech sector was on full display this spring at the Brookstreet Hotel as some 2,500 attendees gathered for one of Canada’s largest tech expo and career fairs.

The 80 exhibitors ran the gamut from a one-person startup to a 45-year-old anchor of Kanata’s tech community. All had similar goals: Scout out the region’s top talent and highlight the creative solutions local firms are applying to compelling challenges.

Neptec’s booth featured the company’s co-op students displaying the firm’s infrared cameras, which have been used on the International Space Station. BlackBerry QNX was parked in the hotel lobby, showcasing one of the firm’s autonomous vehicles. And representatives from Mitel were chatting with recent grads about how an established tech giant could adopt the mindset of a startup.

Representatives from participating companies say Discover TechNATA has connected them to employees and helped forge stronger connections with other Kanata tech firms.

Magnet Forensics, for one, ultimately hired an employee who they first met at the 2017 edition of Discover TechNATA.

“Aside from direct hires, I really appreciate the connections I’ve made at Discover TechNATA,” says Thusha Agampodi, a manager at Magnet Forensics in Kanata. “(The event brings together) a diverse set of individuals and leaders from other companies who I keep in touch with and continue to learn from and collaborate with.”

The demographics and background of job-seekers was as diverse as the exhibitors.

Luis Dias and Brenda Brassette, a Brazilian couple who have been visiting Toronto in hopes of relocating for IT work in Canada, came to Discover TechNATA to scout out the region’s job market. Both Dias and Brassette were impressed to see the number of IT companies present at the fair.

“I never imagined Kanata would have such a concentration of tech companies,” says Brassette, who was visiting Ottawa for the first time with her husband.

Even some experienced Kanata North tech workers saw how the region’s momentum was on display at Discover TechNATA.

Ian Durant, people operations leader at You.i TV, commented on how neat it was to see Kanata “thriving.”

While the growing number of downtown tech firms may be grabbing headlines, Durant says he speaks to plenty of young workers who love working in Kanata North and enjoy the professional community’s unique amenities, such as midday yoga sessions and weekly summer lunch parties at the Community Hub.

Durant says he has seen “tremendous growth” in both the volume of available positions and number of companies hiring in the last five years he’s worked in Kanata North.

Now in its third year, Discover TechNATA has seen the same dramatic growth as Kanata’s tech sector, with the number of exhibitors more than doubling since the career fair launched in 2016.

For organizers, it’s one more sign that Kanata North has achieved a critical mass of skilled workers and leading companies, and continues to thrive as Canada’s largest technology park.

— By Rebecca Atkinson

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