Auto cybersecurity firm Vehiqilla Inc. relocating its headquarters to Windsor
Company hopes to help make the region 'the Silicon Valley of automobility'
An automotive cybersecurity firm relocating to Windsor is one example of how business leaders are trying to "future-proof" the local economy, says one of Windsor-Essex's main economic development groups.
Vehiqilla Inc. is in the business of keeping vehicles secure from high-tech threats, such as a hacker who may want to take control of your autonomous steering or someone sifting through your smart vehicle's data.
Founded in Burlington in 2017, the company is now moving its headquarters to Windsor.
"We've worked very hard in this region over the past couple of years to have a strategy that future-proofs the economy for Windsor-Essex," said Stephen MacKenzie, President and CEO of the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC).
"We've realized that the opportunity is to build on the strengths of that history, of that excellent manufacturing and automation cluster."
He hopes announcements such as this will relabel Windsor from the automotive capital of Canada, to the automobility capital of the country. That, he said, means capitalizing on new transportation technology.
Vehiqilla is on the same page, telling CBC News it hopes to make Windsor-Essex "the Silicon Valley of automobility."
Many people may not realize there are many cybersecurity threats to vehicles, from keyless fobs, Bluetooth and even the system monitoring your tire pressure, said CEO AJ Khan.
"There are 20,000 suppliers in a vehicle — what if one of its suppliers is hacked? How would that affect the vehicle?" said Khan.
The region's "vibrant" automotive and logistics sectors and access to tech talent from the University of Windsor and St. Clair College were listed as reasons why the company opted to move to Windsor-Essex.
The Virtual Reality CAVE was also an attraction the company plans to use, as WEEDC said it is the largest, publicly-accessible resource of its kind in Canada.
"Consider this: your vehicle is going 120kmh and it is hacked, what would happen to that vehicle," said Khan. "That's something we want to have replicated in virtual reality and test that out."
The company said it plans to hire 50 employees over the next few years in automotive cybersecurity, engineering, and vehicle fleet monitoring.
With files from Laura McQuillan