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Kanata North still bustling with energy and opportunity

Kanata North touts itself as the place where serious tech gets done.

Call it what you will, one thing has never changed – this is still a place where tech happens. Ninety per cent of all communications R&D in Canada still takes place in Ottawa, and 90 per cent of that is centred in Kanata.

But the area has diversified itself considerably since the heyday of the telecom boom. Business and consumer software, including cloud services, has come to rival the traditional roots in telecom.

Anyone who still believes the old assertion that Kanata North is a land of R&D branch plants devoid of head office hustle needs to take a fresh look at the numbers.

About 60 per cent of the tech companies operating in Kanata North are head office operations. It’s a mixed group of eager up and comers – 97 per cent of companies in the area have fewer than 50 employees.

Productivity beyond par

Doyletech Corp. recently completed an Economic Impact Study and Market Gap Analysis for the Kanata North BIA, which concluded that the area has an annual economic impact of $7.8 billion. That puts its productivity per worker at three times or more the national average.

For Doyletech partner and analyst Rick Clayton, Kanata North represents “a mighty solution” to Canada’s economic growth problems arising from an over-dependence on commodities and stagnant productivity.

“Kanata North is a shining example of Canadian smarts being used around the world through the various domestic and multinational firms that are working here,” he said. “And these smarts are very, very good — these individuals can command higher salaries in a global economy, which in turn drives local economic activity.”

A deep and stable talent pool

But who are these smart people?

It’s a mix of the old guard and the new. A recent survey found that nowhere else in Canada is there a community of developers, engineers and commercialization strategists clustered so close to where they work.

In fact, 50 per cent of respondents said they live within five kilometres of where they work in Kanata. That compares with a national average of 36 per cent. Sixty per cent of tech workers have been in the area for at least six years, while 30 per cent have been at it for 10 years or more.

Kanata North is a shining example of Canadian smarts being used around the world through the various domestic and multinational firms that are working here.
Rick Clayton, Doyletech partner

“For ambitious startups or seasoned multinationals alike, Kanata North has the tech talent and the ready real estate to put down roots and build compelling products for global markets,” said Jenna Sudds, Executive Director of the Kanata North BIA.

A hotbed for growth

The seeds of Ottawa’s tech sector were sown here decades ago and just down the road on Carling Avenue, she said, with names like Computing Devices of Canada, Bell Northern Research (BNR) and then Nortel Networks. This was followed by the ecosystem built around Sir Terry Matthews’s Mitel Networks, Newbridge Networks and Wesley Clover.

A new generation of companies like You.i TV are blazing new trails in software and dynamic growth markets like over the top video services. The TEDx Kanata event is giving Kanata North fresh profile among innovators and entrepreneurs from outside the area.

L-Spark, Canada’s only dedicated incubator and accelerator for Enterprise Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), is located here. So too is CENGN, a consortium accelerating the commercialization of next-generation communications solutions for the cloud and the Internet of Things.

“Whether it’s a small or large company, they’re here for the same reason – the benefits of clustering,” said Martin Vandewouw, President of KRP Properties – the area’s largest commercial property developer and landlord. “They want to network, share ideas, get together and speak as a single voice, and they’re also out here because of the talent.”


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