Toronto will be the site of a $100-million global innovation centre dedicated to the “internet of everything,” Cisco Systems Inc. has announced.

The centre, to open at RBC WaterPark Place, a new complex scheduled for completion in spring 2015, will bring together startup companies and other innovators involved in developing new applications for smart connection technologies.

Cisco is one of the world's biggest makers of internet backbone equipment and "internet of everything" technology will run on its networks.

The “internet of everything” is a term used to refer to internet-connected things such as smart vehicles, home security systems and appliances — and internet-connected processes, such as ways to connect retailers with customers or patients with health-care providers. It’s a market Cisco estimates to be worth $19 trillion over the next 10 years.

4 global innovation hubs

The Toronto IoE Innovation Centre represents a $100-million investment in design and infrastructure, technology, staffing and operational costs by Cisco over the next 10 years. It is the first investment in a planned $2-billion commitment to Ontario that will result in 1,700 jobs, says Cisco Canada vice-president of marketing Mark Collins.

Collins said the centre will be the most advanced internet-protocol (IP) enabled building in North America.

"It’s an environment designed for us to collaborate with partners who will take advantage of the economic potential of the internet of everything," he told CBC News.

"If you look at industries like energy, like health care — we’re talking to major organizations where they’ll be able to come into this environment with ideas and other partners and … collaborate with us, test out their ideas, experiment with us and ultimately develop the solutions of tomorrow."

An IP-enabled building would also offer advantages such as the ability to control the lighting and temperature in your workplace with a cellphone app. 

Toronto is one of four such innovation hubs planned by the tech giant. The others are in Songdo, South Korea, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and an unnamed city in Germany.

Cisco said the Toronto site will be a “North American hub for thought leadership and experimentation.”

“Innovation centres are a key pillar of our strategy to impact the productivity and innovation trajectory of Canada,” Cisco Canada president Nitin Kawale said in a press statement.

Commitment to Ontario

Collins envisions that new sensor and smart technology could deal with problems such as transportation gridlock in Toronto.

“If we were able to partner and work with transportation organizations and the city itself and we had smarter technology that would allow people to know where parking spots are before they actually drive downtown," he said, "it could cut down the time they waste seeking parking and trigger a more dynamic city, where traffic could flow faster and save time and energy.”

Further applications are in health care, education, municipalities, transportation and construction.

Late last year, Cisco committed to investing $4 billion in Ontario over the next 10 years.

It is a premier partner in the 2015 Pan Am/Para Pan Am Games in Toronto and will also invest in research chairs, professorships and innovation centres at 10 universities across Canada.

Toronto deputy mayor Norm Kelly welcomed the creation of the innovation centre, saying it will boost Toronto as a place to do business.

It will also position Toronto as a unique tech hub that will allow companies to harness Cisco's expertise and leverage their 'internet of everything' market opportunity,” he said.