Four years after uOttawa first made its debut in Kanata North, the university is making a second home in Hub350.
While the university will maintain is massive footprint in the tech park with its campus at 535 Legget Dr., it says its presence at Hub350, located down the street at 350 Legget Dr. will be a ‘collision centre,’ a place for students and graduates to meet with other researchers and entrepreneurs.
uOttawa has seen an incredible growth since it first established its research facility in Kanata North. Its co-op placements have gone from 280 students in the first year to more than 400 in this current academic year. There are more than 62,000 graduates working in Kanata North tech businesses.
Eric Yang is one of them.
As an electrical engineering student at uOttawa, he went to work at Kanata North tech company Teldio as a co-op placement. Before he had graduated in May of 2021, he received an offer to work for the company full time.
While the company made some strategic changes to its core product – and will be launching a new project that offers solutions to dive into the workflow automation market under the Hyyphen name – Yang remains excited to call Kanata North his home.
Yang came to uOttawa from the Niagara region, and wasn’t aware of the opportunities at the Kanata North satellite until he was a little further into his degree. He started hearing about the tech park and decided to switch into electrical engineering.
“One of the biggest reasons I actually switched into electrical engineering was because I know that the technology park is really heavily focused on hardware, software and those sorts of area. I just figured at the time, if I switched to electrical engineering, there’s a better career aspect as well as I do really enjoy electronics and different pieces of technology. It really just kind of clicked into place.
“Then as I was about to graduate, it kind of came as a no brainer to start looking for jobs in this area, especially with uOttawa being so close,” Yang said.
As he started working in Kanata North, Yang knew he was going to stay in the national capital region.
“I think as I lived in the city a little longer, I started to grow and I really liked the environment I’m living in. I think all of [the colleagues I have] have a really good balance between city life as well as outdoor life. I’m a very big sports person, so I really enjoy outdoor stuff like skiing, biking, running and that sort of thing. I think this is definitely the perfect city for that. Compared to, like, say, Toronto or some other places,” Yang said.
Connecting students with career opportunities is exactly why academia is one of Kanata North Business Association’s key pillars, said Jamie Petten, president and executive director of KNBA. It’s a match that benefits students – and business.
Petten says she hears consistently from Kanata North businesses that they are constantly working to attract and retain top talent.
“The presence of academia in an innovation community can’t be understated,” Petten said. She cited the Stanford Research Park near Palo Alto as a U.S.-example of the partnership between industry and academia.
“It was an early strategy of the KNBA board to welcome the University of Ottawa to the Kanata North Technology Park and to really support them in establishing their own presence, their own voice, their own brand and deep connection to industry. We’re really excited in those early conversations that we continue to be just with the ambitious plans that the University of Ottawa have always had but continue to have, and how they wish to work with our technology park,” she said.
Key to this growth, from Petten’s point of view, is that uOttawa listens to the needs of Kanata North businesses, and shape programs to meet those needs.
Veronica Farmer, director, Innovation & Partnerships at uOttawa, said what’s important about the uOttawa collaboration with Kanata North businesses is that the university “actively listens to what companies need.”
“What the University of Ottawa has done fabulously is they’re active listeners and they’re engaging constantly with our community and with our company here in the park.”
The new space will be a meeting place for conversations and collaborations, strategically positioned to be at the heart of the action there, Farmer explains.
This was purposefully designed to ensure the University is at Hub350 to support KNBA’s academic pillar.
Farmer says the university has set up its ‘innovation machine’ to be faculty agnostic, it has the freedom to conduct research and work with Kanata businesses in a form they need, and to contribute.
“When I first started with uOttawa I spent time learning how to serve the industry. I learned that researchers want collaboration,” Farmer says.
“Businesses want to upskill teams, curate the right programs and talent,” she adds. “Our talent, learning programs and research expertise brings an array of solutions to industry to succeed and grow. We are an innovation partner to tech companies in the park, having completed numerous research collaboration and placements of talent. Our alignment of research expertise is a beautiful fit to the Park’s sectors – 5G, AI, Cyber, Quantum and Connected Car and Autonomous Vehicles.”