KNBA joins forces with Salesforce to boost innovation in Canada’s largest technology park

StartupBeat Team
By StartupBeat Team May 5, 2021
Kanata North Business Park. Image Credit: Fan Song via Ottawa Business Journal

The Kanata North Business Association, the economic development arm of Canada’s largest technology park, has announced a partnership with Cloud giant Salesforce to accelerate the growth and innovation of Kanata North.

The collaboration between KNBA—via its new initiative called Hub350—and Salesforce will help elevate the status of Ottawa’s leading hub for innovation, cutting-edge tech businesses, and knowledge-based industries, which has created more than 33,000 skilled jobs and contributing over $13 billion to Canada’s GDP every year.

“Salesforce shares many of the same values that KNBA lives every day. They are a company that believes today’s global challenges require businesses to digitally transform while leveraging integrated customer data to become more responsive, resilient, and efficient,” Victoria McGlone, chief operating officer at KNBA, wrote in an article announcing the partnership.

Rendering of Hub350. Credit: KNBA
Rendering of Hub350. Credit: KNBA

According to her, the main priority for the association is to fill the open job roles in the technology park that hosts more than 540 Canadian and international companies operating in telecommunications, 5G, cyber security, and other technology verticals.

McGlone maintains that another crucial step is to introduce more incentives to retain much-sought-after professionals that can help build a prosperous future for Canada’s economy post-COVID.

This is especially important as productivity of the richly diverse pool of Kanata North workers is on average four times greater than the average Canadian worker.

“Salesforce is committed to giving back to local communities, closing the equality gap, and helping businesses grow. For this reason, their partnership with KNBA will help strengthen the already large and growing pool of tech talent in Canada and will help shape a more tech-driven future in Kanata North,” the COO of KNBA explained.

She sees a very bright future for the fast-thriving suburb Kanata North because it “has a mixture of all the right players for an innovation ecosystem, there is a golden opportunity within the park to upskill and re-skill workers, and the park is committed to an inclusive future, attracting a diverse range of new talent.”

McGlone says Kanata North is fortunate enough to have all the right players in the right environment across key sectors of the economy, who can create a stronger link between academic discipline, corporate technology, and startups. 

Victoria McGlone, COO at KNBA (Image source: LinkedIn)
Victoria McGlone, COO at KNBA (Image source: LinkedIn)

The area is home to some of the country’s telecommunications stalwarts like Mitel and BlackBerry and international conglomerates such as Nokia, Cisco, and Ericsson, all of whom offer stable employment for a segment of the population.

This is significant as telecommunications, wireless, and photonics is the largest sub-sector in Kanata.

“A host of promising startups residing in the technology park are also making a great contribution to the growth of the high-tech industry and job creation in the area, particularly those who are in the scale-up stage,” the COO of KNBA noted.

She says local and national authorities as well as private stakeholders and investors have also had a huge role in transforming Kanata North into a leader in 5G, connectivity, artificial intelligence, cyber security, the Internet-of-Things (IoT), and autonomous transport.  

“The academic community is another pillar of the flourishing tech ecosystem in Kanata North, with prestigious educational institutions such as the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, having a physical presence in the park and nurturing the next generation of professionals.”

Echoing the views of industry experts, McGlone argues that the most competitive businesses in the coming years will be those that prioritize re-skilling and up-skilling their current employees.

Salesforce, for example, is committed to re-skilling Canadians through programs offered on its free online learning platform called Trailhead, she said.

“Easy access to programs like this, and educational institutions in Kanata North along with a myriad of opportunities in startups and different kinds of organizations can facilitate the reskilling and upskilling of tech professionals within Canada’s largest tech park.”

The COO of KNBA believes Kanata North’s industry leaders and city officials have been constantly encouraging diverse participation along gender, race, and ethnic lines.

“In parallel with efforts to narrow down the gender gap in tech, Discover Technata—the country’s largest aggregated tech job board developed by KNBA—is facilitating the recruitment process for companies in the technology park whose arms are open to tech specialists from different parts of the globe,” she explained.

McGlone says some of these challenges facing Kanata North are expected to be addressed through the Hub350 project, which is taking shape in the heart of the park as a physical, state-of-the-art global center.

“Hub350 will become the crown jewel of Kanata North, where corporate innovation partners, academia, tech professionals, and researchers can explore opportunities while living, working, playing, and learning alongside each other,” she added.

According to her, it will co-locate 40 corporate partners, post-secondary institutions, investors, banks, and government funders.

Rendering of Hub350. Credit: KNBA
Rendering of Hub350. Credit: KNBA

“The mixed-use center will enable a deeper integration of local, national, and international post-secondary institutions, providing a space to soft land in the technology park and accelerating member companies’ access to people and skills,” McGlone said.

The project will also contribute enormously to the inclusive vision embraced by KNBA through fostering collaboration among existing members and enhancing cluster development, she noted.

Disclaimer: This article mentions a client of an Espacio portfolio company.