Electronic Products & Technology

IBM innovation incubator launches at Communitech Data Hub

Stephen Law   

Electronics Engineering Software Engineering innovation

The Province of Ontario, the Ontario Centres of Excellence, IBM Canada and Communitech jointly unveiled the IBM Innovation Incubator at the Communitech Data Hub this July.

Allen Lalonde, senior innovation executive at IBM Canada, announces the opening of the IBM Innovation Incubator at the Communitech Data Hub. (Communitech photo: Phil Froklage)

The initiative is part of the IBM Innovation Incubator Project, fuelled by a previously announced $22.75 million in provincial funding and an additional investment of $24.75 million from IBM.

“The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, it’s data,” said Kevin Tuer, Communitech Vice-President of Strategic Initiatives and Managing Director of Canada’s Open Data Exchange, which is housed at the Data Hub.

The IBM Innovation Incubator Project includes five co-located innovation spaces across Ontario. Its mandate is to help small-to-medium startups launch new technology and products and leverage the booming field of big data.


Facility encourages collaboration among startups

The Communitech Data Hub opened in May and houses Canada’s Open Data Exchange. The 19,000-plus square foot facility encourages collaboration among startups, global brands, government agencies and academic institutions to harness the potential of Big Data and in so doing further drive innovation, particularly in the fields of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, which are heavily data dependent.

“Kitchener-Waterloo is a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurialism, so frankly if we’re going to work in an entrepreneurial-innovation ecosystem we better be here [at the Data Hub],” said IBM Canada’s Senior Innovation Executive Allen Lalonde. “We have to be here.”

Lalonde said he hopes the artificial intelligence capabilities of IBM’s Watson and its Bluemix cloud platform will help companies to achieve their research and development goals faster and spur growth.

“We believe in really helping entrepreneurs to not only access, but adopt, disruptive technologies and to adopt those technologies in context – to use their ideas with a customer in mind, with enterprise need in mind, with global markets in mind.

“And I think that’s what we can bring to this environment that perhaps others can’t, or that is unique to IBM.”

One Waterloo Region startup already reaping the benefit of IBM’s presence is Viral360, a Kitchener-based company that uses predictive analytics to help companies target “the right message to the right audience.”

“[IBM] helped us leapfrog,” said co-founder and CEO Francis Coral-Mellon. “The networking-in-tech aspects — they made their technologists very available right away to help implement, to help take us through everything, to brainstorm.

“When you’re in an IBM incubator space, your world opens up a bit more. Connecting with these bigger brands is ideal towards meeting new people who possibly can take your business forward.”


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