Internet of things manufacturing centre to open in 2017

A former tire warehouse in Kitchener will become the largest internet of things hub in the world.

Glasgow Street location in Kitchener to be largest innovation hub in the world

Kurtis McBride and Frank Voisin outside their planned innovation hub on Glasgow Street in Kitchener. (Joe Pavia/CBC News)

Kurtis McBride and Frank Voisin are dreaming big. And that dream is a year away from becoming a reality.

Their dream is to open the world's largest hardware internet of things innovation hub in a 475,000 sq ft former warehouse on Glasgow St. in Kitchener.

They'll be able to fit 2,000 innovators from around the world on the 12 acre property, which is a stone's throw from the Belmont Village. Their vision not only includes the work that goes on inside the building but how the design fits into the neighbourhood.

The internet of things is a network of "smart" devices embedded with technology that enables machine-to-machine communication.  

Building to be part of the neighbourhood

Frank Voisin with Voisin Capital tells CBC they're working with an architect who will capture the essence of the Belmont and Glasgow area. Voisin says they don't want it to feel like a separate "other" from the neighbourhood, they want it to feel like a part of the community.

"We want to integrate very well. We've got the Iron Horse Trail running the whole length of the building," said Voisin.

"And right now when you're on the Iron Horse there's a tremendous amount of foliage and stuff in between you and the building. We want to open up some of that so you feel when you are on the Iron Horse it feels connected and integrated into our site plan."

That means tearing down some of that foliage and making the space more visible. The design also includes spots for retail outlets, a coffee shop, restaurant and a gym. Voisin says the location will not be exclusively for people who work at Catalyst137 but will be for people who live in the neighbourhood.

New Miovision headquarters

For McBride, the CEO and co-founder of Miovision it'll be the new home base for his company. McBride plans to move Miovision offices to the 137 Glasgow Street location. They'll own 30 per cent of the area.

"So what we're trying to do here is to give those people a home, give them a place where they can both come and physically reside," said McBride. "And then to the degree where they don't actually rent space here they can still come and be part of the community, part of the programming. We're trying to make this the place where the internet of things will be invented in North America."

Facility once stored tires

There's a scent of rubber when you walk through the empty building. The location was storage facility for tires that were produced next door. But once that smell of rubber hits the road, the doors will open for the many tech workers living in the area.

McBride explains, when RIM (now BlackBerry) was in its heyday, they were bringing specialty designers to the area.

"Those people are still in town. A lot of people in those companies are specializing in the internet of things."


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