Feds to invest up to $8M in Innovation Centre

Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains announced Wednesday the federal government will invest up to $8 million in the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards.

“We must scale up. The goal is to give SMEs, small and medium-sized companies, the support they need to bring their goods and services to market a lot faster,” Mr. Bains told the 350 gathered at Mechanicsville’s Laroche Park for the announcement. The park is across the street from the old city works building being renovated for the centre.

“The centre is expected to help about 1,200 businesses accelerate the development and commercialization of more than 200 products and services so the scale is absolutely impressive,” Mr. Bains said. “It will attract tens of millions of dollars in follow up investment for participating companies and the region more broadly.”

He said the centre would also create more than 280 jobs in the community.

Mr. Bains said technology is changing every aspect of our lives and innovation is critical to economic growth in the future.

The money, coming from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, will support the facility’s Advanced Digital Media Lab, Makerspace and Global Cybersecurity Resource Program.

The makerspace and media lab, to be called Mademill, will be managed by prototypeD and a group of collaborators. It is meant to speed up technology commercialization by providing entrepreneurs with everything they need to design develop and test their products.

The cybersecurity program will be run by Carleton University’s Technology Innovation Management Program and Venus Cybersecurity, providing entrepreneurs with cybersecurity expertise and to develop commercial cybersecurity solutions.

Mr. Bains said cybersecurity is an area where Canadian companies can really make an impact.

“We are becoming more digitized in everything we do,” he told reporters after the announcement. “Digitization is taking place in every sector from forestry to mining to agriculture to healthcare and so how do we make sure that when we digitize all these different sectors we provide security measures as well.”

The funding will also help strengthen the digital media, software, defence, aerospace and security and clean technology sectors, all considered to be high-growth industries in the local economy.

The centre is in riding of Ottawa Centre, represented by Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna.

“You know, like we do, that the way Canada is going to remain competitive and prosperous in the long term is if our businesses and workers are able to adapt and grow and take advantage of the trillions of dollars invested in a cleaner and more sustainable future,” she said, adding it will bring talent to the city and shape the Ottawa of the future.

There are “so many opportunities” in the cleantech sector, Ms. McKenna said.

“We need to make sure that it’s Ottawa businesses, Ottawa entrepreneurs that are out there at the forefront taking advantage of those opportunities.

The federal funding is in addition to the original $30 million, which is being shared by the provincial and municipal government.

Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi said there is an international thirst for Canadian innovation.

“I sincerely believe this Innovation Centre is going to really fill that gap that exists in making sure that Ontario and Ottawa is front and centre globally,” he said.

Bay Coun. and Deputy Mayor Mark Taylor was at the announcement representing Mayor Jim Watson who was about to attend his father’s funeral.

He said the centre will have long-term economic and social benefits for the community.

“When we officially open this spectacular facility just behind me later this year, the real excitement will be what our innovators and entrepreneurs create inside of it,” he said

The Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards is set to open in the fall.