Electronic Products & Technology

Feds, industry lend support to ‘Futureplex’ of innovation

Investment in Area X.O catalyzes tech development, commercialization and future global export opportunity

October 15, 2020  EP&T Magazine

Invest Ottawa, lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada’s Capital, officially launched Area X.O, described as the ‘futureplex’ of innovation and collaboration. 

Evolving from the Ottawa L5 Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Test Facility, and established and managed by Invest Ottawa, Area X.O enables and accelerates the safe and secure development, testing and application of next-generation technologies across many sectors.

$17-million in new investment

Area X.O has received almost $17-million in new investment, including $7-million from the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), and nearly $10 million in in-kind contributions of technology, services and expertise from industry partners including Accenture, BlackBerry QNX, the City of Ottawa, Ericsson, Hexagon | AutonomouStuff, InDro Robotics, Kongsberg Geospatial, Microsoft, Nokia and TÜV SÜD.

This new investment in Area X.O builds on anchor support contributed to the Ottawa L5 from the Government of Ontario through the AV Innovation Network (AVIN) and founding industry partners over the last two years, creating a future-ready innovation facility currently valued at more than $29 million. It enables the development of next-generation technologies, new companies, top tech talent and high-value jobs, helping to drive our economic recovery and long-term economic growth.

Mobility, autonomy and connectivity

Established and managed by Invest Ottawa, Area X.O fuels the creation, commercialization and adoption of breakthrough innovations in mobility, autonomy and connectivity that benefit our community, economy and environment. These applications span telecom, smart agriculture, defence, security and public safety, unmanned aerial vehicles, and smart cities.

Combining diverse expertise with Ottawa’s telecom and cybersecurity strengths, Area X.O helps local, national and global startups, SMEs, multinationals, and governments address grand challenges and opportunities. It equips them with the novel capabilities required to accelerate tech development, testing and application as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible in a single location. The Area X.O team brokers linkages to new domestic and international customers, investors and suppliers, and helps firms access critical global supply chains and increase their share of target world markets

Quick facts on new investment in Area X.O

The new investment in Area X.O catalyzes technology development, commercialization and future global export opportunity for innovators and SMEs in Canada’s Capital and across the country. It supports new capabilities that increase the customer, investment and market-readiness of innovators and firms at this technology playground, including:

  • A new, fully equipped 5G mobile command centre with drones capable of deploying a standalone and secure 5G network anywhere and anytime – without any external connectivity. The first of its kind, it supports first responders and rural innovation by allowing SMEs to test and validate solutions in their location;
  • New cybersecurity technologies that help SMEs proactively identify vulnerabilities and enhance the security of their innovations;
  • The expansion of one of the most advanced communications test systems in the world that enables broader connectivity and more diverse technology development, testing and applications;
  • Additive metal printing and manufacturing for specialized prototyping to enable rapid and cost-effective technology development and commercialization;
  • An onsite operations command centre that enables a one-of-a-kind, unified real-time view into all smart city assets across Area X.O including drones and autonomous vehicles, which increases situational awareness, safety and security of all projects, operations and personnel on the site;
  • An autonomous vehicle with a custom innovation platform that enables SMEs to integrate, test and demonstrate their solutions, and verify how they perform in a real-world environment;
  • An authentic railway crossing and mobile dummy test targets that enable precise and repeatable test scenarios between autonomous vehicles and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists;
  • Level 2 and 3 charge electric charging stations that are modular with the ability to scale for future high-speed charging of vehicles; and
  • Enhancements to safety, security and operations at Area X.O that address SAE International standards, enabling a broader array of clients to conduct R&D and testing at the facility.

“While it’s only been around for a little more than a year, Ottawa’s L5 Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Test Facilities have enabled us to accelerate our AV testing and overall work to develop safe and secure autonomous vehicle technologies,” says Grant Courville, VP, products and strategy, BlackBerry QNX. “With FedDev Ontario’s support, the new Command Center represents a significant advancement in terms of what the facility is now able to offer and we’re thrilled that both BlackBerry Jarvis, our binary code scanning solution that provides deep security insights and our Quantum Resistant Code Signing Server will have a starring role, allowing transportation industry players to push the limits of our technology in a safe, controlled environment with a view to securing their connected and autonomous systems now and into the future,” Courville adds.

 


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