Cisco Canada has committed to investing $150 million in Canadian venture-capital funds, incubators and innovative companies as part of its innovation hub strategy that could bring 1,700 new jobs to Ontario.
Cisco president Nitin Kawale and federal finance minister Joe Oliver announced the investment Thursday in Toronto, the city where the company decided to base its innovation hub.
Oliver hailed Cisco’s plan for fostering innovation, creating jobs and building businesses directed at tomorrow's technology.
He pointed to the lack of venture capital in Canada for early stage firms and encouraged other businesses to step up to the plate. He said the Cisco investment was all private money.
"This is a private sector initiative. we think this is the best kind of initiative for advancing this sector," Oliver said.
"At the end of the day, it's the private sector that's going to be the key driver of this."
Cisco plans to invest across a mix of technologies and businesses in various stages of investment over the next 10 years.
Cisco is one of the world's biggest makers of internet backbone equipment and new technology and processes will eventually run on its networks.
"Ultimately, we're looking to spur creative, ambitious and meaningful innovation ideas and projects," Kawale said at the press conference.
"Cisco will lend its wealth and world-class business expertise and acumen by actively engaging with other partners and start-ups to mentor and develop new Canadian leaders and innovators."
Cisco said it chose Ontario for its pool of talent.
“Canada continues to produce some of the top engineering and management talent in the world and is home to dynamic industries that are ripe for business transformation,” Kawale said.
“We believe the Cisco Canada Innovation Program is a great opportunity to fund and mentor startup companies, foster innovation and help Canada be recognized among the most innovative countries in the world."
The company plans direct technology sector investment in areas such as cloud infrastructure, digital media, big data management, intelligent infrastructure and mobility.
It also plans to work with the Canadian government to foster venture capital investment in technology and work with incubators who can support early-stage companies as they develop.
Cisco currently has an active portfolio of $2 billion US of investments in technology start-ups around the world and often takes a partnership role later in the life of developing companies.
The company has taken a lead role in developing Toronto IoE Innovation Centre at RBC WaterPark Place in Toronto, a building that will be in operation by 2015.