uOttawa’s Kanata North campus marks 5 years in Canada’s largest tech park

Kanata North
Research and innovation
Kanata North

By University of Ottawa

Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, OVPRI

Professor Burak Kantarci speaking with students and holding a drone
The University of Ottawa is helping to foster a rich tech research and innovation ecosystem while developing the next generation of talent in Kanata North.

This article was originally published by the Ottawa Business Journal.

When uOttawa took the bold decision to establish its Kanata North campus in Canada’s largest tech park – the first postsecondary institution to do so – it embarked on a mission to collaborate, innovate, enhance talent development and contribute to the growing impact of the region's tech landscape.

Whether companies are looking to expand research and development (R&D) activities through research collaborations, grow their teams through CO-OP placements, or capitalize on funding opportunities to stretch budgets and achieve objectives, uOttawa has been there to help.

Expansion in the tech park

Although active in the tech park for decades, uOttawa will mark its fifth year anniversary of the uOttawa Kanata North campus on April 25, 2024. 

Over the past five years, uOttawa has reached considerable milestones in Kanata North, such as doubling its initial satellite campus footprint to over 8,000 sq.ft., setting up the Smart Connected Vehicle Innovation Centre, the first academic-industry driven research lab in the tech park, and unveiling a second uOttawa presence at Hub350 where they are an Anchor Partner. Most recently, adding to this list of milestones, Guy Levesque, uOttawa’s associate vice-president, innovation, partnerships, and entrepreneurship, was also named as the chair of the Kanata North Business Association board of directors in 2023.

“Amazing things happen every day in Kanata North, and that’s why we are here,” says Levesque. “Serving on the KNBA Board is one of the small ways in which we contribute to being a valued member of this world-leading community. It has been my second home since 2019.” 

Amongst these notable milestones, uOttawa has continued to experience significant engagement and growth in R&D and talent development in the tech park. 

R&D impact and growth

From partnering with local early-stage companies such as Celestra Health Systems, to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) such as Lytica Inc., and larger multinationals like Ciena and Ericsson, uOttawa has seen its collaborations and impact continually grow in Kanata North. Since 2019, surpassing 60 collaborations, annual research partnerships have doubled resulting in the generation of significant intellectual property (IP) assets, such as patents, as well as academic articles published by uOttawa researchers profiling the groundbreaking discoveries happening right here in Ottawa.  

“By bringing the best of industry together with the best of academia, these research collaborations are solving real-world problems and supporting the launch of market-leading products and solutions,” said Sean Geddes, director, innovation and partnerships.

As part of this rise in activity, uOttawa has seen a significant expansion in collaborative research areas such as digital transformation, including in AI, cybersecurity, quantum technologies, 5G/6G communication, IoT and medtech. 

Developing the next generation of talent

It is increasingly recognized that to prepare the next generation of talent, training needs to begin prior to post-secondary education. uOttawa Kanata North and the Faculty of Engineering knew this when they led an Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) Regional Future Workforce program. This initiative exposed students from underrepresented communities at the elementary school to university level to learn more about the connected and automated vehicles (CAV) and mobility sector through courses and training programs, with uOttawa students securing industry internships with companies such as Kinaxis. 

CO-OP and research internship placements have also been a critical component in developing the next generation of talent. With a base at the uOttawa Kanata North campus, the CO-OP team has experienced enhanced engagement in Kanata North over the last five years with annual placements growing by nearly 100 per cent and representation from five out of 10 uOttawa faculties. 

Notably, to further facilitate internships, the CO-OP team has recently adjusted their hiring process to a permanent continuous model, making it quicker and easier for employers in the tech park and beyond. This update is already active for summer hiring. 

In addition, uOttawa has been active in enhancing exposure to research-intensive industry internships for graduate students and post-docs. These internships focus on research projects, vary in length, and seek to solve a business problem. 

“These internships are incredible opportunities for graduate students and postdocs to get industry experience, while companies can expand their R&D programs and access funding,” said Geddes.

Recognizing the value of these research internships, they were in fact purposefully built into the Training and Research in Autonomous Vehicles for Reliable Services in the Air and on Land (TRAVERSAL) program that was launched in September 2023. This CAV-focused training program is operated out of the uOttawa Kanata North campus and will train 125+ highly qualified personnel, with each one performing an industry research internship with companies such as Irdeto, in Kanata North.

Interested in collaborating with uOttawa? Connect with the uOttawa Kanata North team to explore how you can partner and innovate with them.