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Despite the challenges and economic uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, the Kanata North technology park has survived, thrived and perhaps, even become stronger as a result. 

With innovative new technologies in high demand, the pandemic provided a steady stream of business for tech companies big and small.

From supply chain management software to cybersecurity and telecom connectivity, Kanata North companies saw an influx of new business and opportunities. 

Throughout the last 18 months, companies in the tech park have pivoted, expanded, acquired new talent – and new companies – reinforcing its status as Canada’s largest technology park, and as the premiere place to live, work, play and learn. 

Now, as the community begins to emerge from the pandemic, it’s time to harness that success and further strengthen Kanata North’s position as a leader in tech, says Leo Lax, executive managing director of L-SPARK, a local accelerator program.

And, thanks to advancements in some emerging sectors, the park is well suited to do it. 

With companies such as Nokia and Ericsson – to name a few – pushing the envelope in 5G technology, Kanata North has become synonymous with ground breaking tech. 

Having access to leading technical innovators was especially important during the pandemic when connectivity was of leading importance.

“COVID forced everybody to live online,” says Lax. “The companies here help build that network.” 

For example, the pathways that enabled telecom companies to ensure their customers were able to have seamless Zoom calls are a result of technology that was designed and built right here in Ottawa.

“Our community helped Rogers, TELUS and Bell Canada make sure that everybody had workable internet connections and made sure there was enough network capacity to allow everybody to get online,” says Lax. “They were able to respond very quickly to the shift and delivered all the things that were needed in order for us to continue to do business.”

Meanwhile, companies such as Ross Video and You.i TV are paving the way in digital streaming and video production, capitalizing on the surge in demand for content and new virtual event capabilities, while cybersecurity leaders such as Trend Micro are continuing to keep companies safe in the new digital world. 

“This virtual transformation has made all these companies more interactive with the community, their customers and their partners,” adds Lax. “They are all operating in rapid fashion.” 

Advancements in autonomous vehicle technology also puts Kanata North in a position of strength as it emerges from the pandemic.

Companies such as BlackBerry QNX, Kongsberg Geospatial and TÜV SÜD have all invested in the future of AV in the community, pledging financial support and equipment to develop improved testing facilities. 

“Many companies in the tech park are concentrated in those markets, and as a result, businesses are as busy as ever,” says Jamie Petten, president of the Kanata North Business Association. “5G technology and AV provide a lot of future opportunities.”

With the development of the Area X.O testing track, which includes special sensors, intersections and potential distractions to test a vehicle’s ability to respond in real time, it’s a technology that Lax says is more within reach than ever before for Kanata North. 

“There is now enough know-how and experience that we can ensure autonomous vehicles can be deployed into the general population safely,” Lax says. “There are still hurdles, but there is significantly more information available to deploy them in a safe fashion.”

The return to community

The vibrancy of the Kanata North tech park community is also returning as we approach the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. 

Known for community barbecues, fitness initiatives and a strong feeling of connection, employees in the park are making their way back to the office after a lengthy period of remote work. 

The opening of two new co-working spaces in the community – Catalyst Kanata on Steacie Drive and TCC Canada’s new space on Innovation Drive – also point to a wider return of employees to the park and a growing demand for workspace to accommodate expanding local teams.  

“Right now we have 1,000 roles for positions within the park that are open today,” Petten says. “It’s a very exciting time.”

The grand opening of Hub350 – the KNBAs newest innovation space in the heart of the technology park – will also serve as a meeting hub for local members and a place to reconnect with the community.

“This will be a gateway to growth, to finance, to talent and to success,” says Petten.

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