Posted: Apr 18, 2008, 7:34 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Ottawa Innovation Hub
Innovation Hub "gets serious"
By Ottawa Business Journal Staff
Fri, Apr 18, 2008 1:00 PM EST
Chris Henderson, chair of The Ottawa Partnership (TOP), told business leaders, academics and politicians last week that a preliminary plan for the hub will be presented to Ontario's Minister of Research and Innovation, John Wilkinson, within a month. The provincial government will be asked to make a multimillion-dollar investment to finance the construction and ongoing operations of the hub.
It is intended to be the focal point for entrepreneurs launching new ideas and businesses, with an objective to speed up and aid the commercialization process.
Mr. Henderson told TOP members there are "serious ongoing discussions" for a high-profile downtown real estate location. The building in mind will need renovations, he said, but could be completed this year.
He declined to give a precise location, because [hmmm...online article is missing the end of the sentence here...]
TOP had investigated occupying the former Ottawa central train station, now the federal Government Conference Centre at 1 Nicholas St., as a site for the hub. However, Mr. Henderson said Friday that it had been ruled out, with architects saying it would take more than $90 million to upgrade the facility.
Mr. Henderson said it's time for Queen's Park to fund Ottawa to the same tune it has other Ontario municipalities. He pointed to similar investments in Toronto, where its MaRS facilities have received $90 million, and Kingston, where a partnership led by Queen's University has received $28 million.
He said the business community cannot let the proposal get bogged down in government red tape. "We need to push this forward like we did the Congress Centre," he said.
Representatives from OCRI, Nortel Networks and local universities and colleges voiced their support for the project.
"We need to get serious about this," said Bob Gillett, president and CEO of Algonquin College.
During a 20-minute presentation to TOP members, Mr. Henderson said the Innovation Hub would lead to better collaboration between private and public organizations in Ottawa, which are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on R&D. The new facility would not focus on a single technology; rather it would encourage entrepreneurs from sectors as diverse as life sciences, software and telecommunications to work together to uncover new business opportunities.
In addition to office space, the hub will congregate professional services – legal, intellectual property, accounting, finance – into one location. It's likely that entrepreneurs and their business plans would be vetted by a committee before securing space in the hub. Entrepreneurs would pay for operating expenses during their stay.
"We're good at turning money into research in Ottawa. We need to be better at turning research into money," said Mr. Henderson.