New Kanata North tech hub part of bigger plan for 'living lab' in west end

The Kanata North Business Association says Hub 350, its new coworking space and networking hub, is the beginning of a larger change for the west end and its tech sector.

Hub 350 is part of effort to fill vacancies and attract investors

A connected autonomous vehicle from Carleton University was parked in front of Hub 350 on its opening day, Oct. 28, 2021. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

The Kanata North Business Association says Hub 350, its new coworking space and networking hub, is the beginning of a larger change for the west end and its tech sector.

Hub 350 opened this week, after nearly two years in which remote working has become the norm and big industry players like Shopify have announced a permanent move to working from anywhere.

Along with work space, Hub 350 also offers a venue for the 540 companies and their 24,000-plus employees in the tech park to collaborate, said business association CEO Jamie Petten.

The Legget Drive space will also provide connections to each of Ottawa's post-secondary institutions — allowing for co-op placements, recruitment and specialized training — and to investors so that entrepreneurs can get their ideas off the ground.

"At the end of the day, culture matters. Those people need a place to connect," she said.

Petten said COVID-19 hasn't slowed down hiring in the network technology and software sectors that dominate the technology park, with about 1,000 vacancies on the region's integrated job board.

A 'living lab' for 5G

The hub also fits into a larger vision, Petten said, that would see Kanata North as a "living lab" for technologies developed there and which use innovations like 5G to solve local issues like congestion.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Petten said. 

"I'm hopeful that we'll see pilots of autonomous shuttles on our live city streets here in Kanata North in the next 12 to 18 months and residential components within our community within the next five years."

The idea of incorporating more residential units and changing the way people get around is part of Kanata North's designation as a "special economic district" in the recently-passed official plan.

It's only the second such district, after the airport.

Jamie Petten, CEO of the Kanata North Business Association, stands outside of the newly-opened Hub 350 at 350 Legget Dr. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Making connections

Cliniconex founder and CEO Anthony Mar said the hub will provide his company access to experts that will help it grow beyond its existing 2,000 clients in the health-care and long-term care fields.

Mar said connections with Telus, which is providing access to 5G infrastructure, will help make the case to clients in the long-term care sector that Cliniconex's app can extend their services into home care and allow more people to age in their homes.

Meanwhile, Telus is hoping to build long-term relationships with those startups.

"The success of Hub 350 is two or three years down the road, when we look back at how many companies are sustainable in their revenue and generate wealth," said Ibrahim Gedeon, chief technology officer for Telus. 

Gedeon said the inclusion of academic institutions — Carleton University, the University of Ottawa, Queen's University, Algonquin College and La Cité — means young professionals trained from scratch on 5G will be ready to enter the workforce and create.

Anthony Mar, Cliniconex founder and CEO, was part of the early-stage startup showcase at the Hub 350 launch. (Jean Delisle/CBC)