City aims to open innovation complex by 2016

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The city is eyeing a 2016 opening date for the first phase of its proposed innovation complex at Bayview Yards, says a staff report to be tabled at a meeting of Ottawa’s finance and economic development committee next week.

An old city workshop at the Bayview Yards.

By David Sali

The report, which will be presented at the committee on Tuesday, also recommends the establishment of a new non-profit corporation to oversee the development and operation of the facility, the city said in a statement this week. The report will go in front of city council on Dec. 11.

If council gives the project the go-ahead, a board of directors for the non-profit corporation will be chosen and staff will start working on a lease agreement for the building, which is located on 0.8 hectares of land at 7 Bayview Rd.

The innovation complex would be the new home of Invest Ottawa and also include an expanded business incubation and acceleration centre and other support agencies for entrepreneurs as well as private tenants. Supporters say it will become a place where entrepreneurs can interact, share ideas and learn new skills, similar to Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District or Waterloo’s Communitech Hub.

“As we build our city’s new economic engine, Ottawa needs a dynamic, world-class facility like this to foster innovation and support private-sector job growth,” Mayor Jim Watson said in a statement. “This is a site that has tremendous potential for smart growth, especially as we expand our transit system in the coming years.”

The project would be jointly funded by the city, the province and the private sector. The province has already pledged $15 million toward the complex, an amount the city plans to match through in-kind contributions of staff resources, waived municipal fees and development charges and cash to help cover operating shortfalls in the startup phase.

The 45,000-square-foot city-owned building at 7 Bayview Rd. was declared a heritage site last year. The city said it expects to start renovations, including a 5,000-square-foot addition, in 2014, and is targeting mid-2016 for the first phase to be finished.

The city said it hopes to start planning the second phase an office building of up to 180,000 square feet funded in partnership with a private developer next year. Construction on the building would start once a development partner and anchor tenants are found.

See also: Innovation complex key for attracting cash to Ottawa, VC investor says.

Geographic location: Ottawa, Toronto

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  • John Ogilvie
    November 29, 2013 - 14:11

    As a four-time startup guy, I can tell you that an "innovation complex" like this is of absolutely zero use to me. When building a company, I don't waste $ on fancy office space or hourly-billed "support agencies" like lawyers, accountants, marketing consultants, etc. At least a facility like this will gather all these folks into one location, out of harms way.

  • jmi
    November 28, 2013 - 22:46

    Really interesting David, thanks ​! ​ Given your interest, I think you'll be very much interested in this list of emerging Open Innovation research: http://www.openinnovation.eu/07-05-2013/768/ And in this new research too: - The Contours of Crowd Capability http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2324637 Powerful stuff, no?

  • jmi
    November 27, 2013 - 21:08

    Really interesting David, thanks ​! ​ Given your interest, I think you'll be very much interested in this list of emerging Open Innovation research: http://www.openinnovation.eu/07-05-2013/768/ And in this new research too: - The Contours of Crowd Capability http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2324637 Powerful stuff, no?

  • artard
    November 27, 2013 - 15:17

    The whole approach is misguided. Putting a fancy building together to 'incubate' a bunch of startups is not going to work. Real startups forge their own identity, and get their own space. Further, the $15M will just increase the government workforce @ invest ottawa. Instead: Make Ottawa a magnet for world-class talent. How? For starters, spend the $15M and hire world-class profs in the design and engineering programs at one of the local universities. Don't build more office space or university buildings. Attract the smartest people to our middle-of-the-road universities. Build a design and entrepreneurship center. Forge better ties with industry through an expanded co-op program.