Innovation Centre plans take shape

Peter Kovessy
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City staff have released more details about the Innovation Centre planned for Bayview Yards, including timelines, its leadership team and how the envisioned entrepreneurship hub will be funded.

An architectural rendering of the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards.

Modelled after similar centres such as Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District and Waterloo’s Communitech Hub, the Innovation Centre aims to bring startups and various support services under a single roof in a renovated city works building west of downtown.

This week, the city announced several new board members to lead the not-for-profit corporation overseeing the centre, including Jim Roche, the president and CEO of Stratford Managers and the co-founder of Tundra Semiconductor, and Michael Runia, the Ottawa-based managing partner of Ontario Deloitte. (See full list at end of story).

Renovations to the 1940s-era building are slated to begin next year and wrap up in time for tenants to move in by the middle of 2016, according to a staff-prepared business plan that councillors on the city’s finance committee will be asked to approve next week.

While construction is ongoing, centre managers will be out looking for tenants and corporate sponsors – key components to the project’s financial viability.

Once completed, the Innovation Centre will contain drop-in space, informal meeting space, open-concept work areas and meeting space.

It will also have dedicated areas for an accelerator program, a digital media lab and a “maker space” for prototyping, digital fabrication, and developing physical representations of concepts.

Money matters

Renovations and fit-ups to the 46,000-square-foot building are expected to cost $15.32 million, according to the city.

The province has already committed $15 million towards the project, covering the bulk of the capital costs for the first phase.

The city has promised to match that through cash and in-kind contributions. The city is kicking in a land lease – valued at $8 million, but provided for a token $1 annually – and foregoing $1.96 million in property tax revenues.

Additionally, the city will pony up $4.85 million between the centre’s opening in 2016 and 2023 to help pay the rent of the municipality’s arm’s-length economic development organization, Invest Ottawa.

The agency will be an anchor tenant in the building, both as a leader in terms of programming as well as a stable revenue source to offset the project’s operating expenses, forecast to be slightly more than $1.1 million annually.

Invest Ottawa’s rent of $615,000 – which will go up by $16,000 a year – will cover more than half of those expenses. Rents from other tenants are expected to generate roughly $550,000 annually, while sponsorship revenues and corporate naming rights are forecast to bring in approximately $80,000 each year.


While the Innovation Centre is aimed at providing space for startups, entrepreneurs themselves won’t be able to directly lease accommodations. While they will be welcome to use drop-in space on a day-by-day basis, the city envisions leasing the space to “umbrella sponsors.”

“The Innovation Centre board and management would be expected to identify and recruit other incubation and acceleration organizations,” the report said.

Additionally, government service organizations such as the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program and the Ontario Centres of Excellence would be expected to locate at the site.

There will also be space for professional service providers such as lawyers, accountants, designers and marketing experts.

Phase two

In total, the first phase of the Innovation Centre is expected to accommodate up to 1,000 individuals. However, the long-term vision is to move the professional service providers and rental offices into a new 12-storey tower with up to 180,000 square feet of space, freeing up the old public works building for entrepreneurs.

There are few details on how this second phase of the project will be financed. The business plan says any surplus revenues from the first phase will be put towards constructing the office tower and that it would “attract investment partners” to enable construction.

A business plan for phase two is scheduled to be developed early next year ahead of pre-construction work in 2017.

Board of directors

- Denise Amyot, president and CEO of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges;

- Ian Fraser, founder and co-owner of Hintonburg’s Cyclelogik;

- Brendan McGuinty, principal of Strategies 360 and a one-time chief of staff to former Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli;

- J. Douglas McLarty, managing director of McLarty & Co.;

- Nancy Meloshe, principal of Meloshe & Associates Ltd.;

- Philip Rimer, a partner at Dentons Canada LLP;

- Jim Roche, president and CEO of Stratford Managers Corp. and co-founder of Tundra Semiconductor;

- Michael Runia, managing partner of Ontario Deloitte;

- Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson;

- Nordion CEO Steve West;

- Jeff Westeinde, founding partner of the Windmill Development Group.

Organizations: Innovation Centre board, Stratford Managers, Tundra Semiconductor Ontario Deloitte National Research Council Ontario Centres Association of Canadian Community Colleges McLarty Co. Meloshe Associates Dentons Canada Windmill Development Group

Geographic location: Ottawa, Toronto, MaRS Discovery District Waterloo

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Recent comments

  • Barry McKay
    June 09, 2014 - 16:18

    Me too Les, but only on the condition it doesn't have a bridge!

  • Les Gagne
    May 03, 2014 - 15:00

    If you're looking for another Board Member to join the team, I'd be interested.