Tech per­spec­tive

Let­ter from In­vest Ot­tawa

Ottawa Business Journal - Techopia - - News -

I am not sure if I was in­vited to write this col­umn be­cause some­one thinks I might have some rare in­sights, or be­cause no one else was crazy enough to try to make pre­dic­tions for 2013. Ei­ther way, here I am and, with In­vest Ot­tawa not quite one year old, try­ing to be clever. Wish me luck.

I think that 2013 is the year in­no­va­tion and en­trepreneur­ship get re­dis­cov­ered in Ot­tawa – not that many of us lo­cals ever thought it really went far away.

But there is a chang­ing mood in the city. There are more pos­i­tive things hap­pen­ing now than at any time since I moved here in 1989: the Lans­downe Park re­de­vel­op­ment, light rail con­struc­tion and the city’s first-ever film stu­dio in the works, along with foot­ball on its way back and res­i­den­tial in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion that is bring­ing new life to down­town. I see city hall and the pri­vate sec­tor work­ing well to­gether to make Ot­tawa more busi­ness-friendly.

To suc­ceed, Ot­tawa needs to really stand out as a great place to start and grow in­no­va­tive busi­nesses in the “new” econ­omy. To do that, we need world-class tal­ent. Tal­ent, how­ever, is mo­bile, so we need to be really at­trac­tive. We al­ready lead on many lists of great places to live and work. In 2013, we will con­tinue to pro­mote Ot­tawa ag­gres­sively, ex­ter­nally and lo­cally, so that we are highly ranked on even more lists.

Why pro­mote it lo­cally? There are about 120,000 post­sec­ondary stu­dents in Ot­tawa, many from other coun­tries. We need to find ways to keep the best and bright­est of them here once they grad­u­ate.

En­trepreneur­ship will be the hottest word of 2013 in Ot­tawa. Our amaz­ing im­mi­grant com­mu­nity will con­tinue to cre­ate new busi­nesses and In­vest Ot­tawa will help with work­shops in five lan­guages. Col­lege and univer­sity stu­dents will build more com­pa­nies than ever and con­tinue to grow them af­ter grad­u­a­tion in fa­cil­i­ties on cam­pus or at other cen­tres like Ex­plo­riem, The Code Fac­tory, Mer­cury Grove and oth­ers. Help is out there; at In­vest Ot­tawa alone, our list of men­tors has grown from 20 to 100 and we ex­pect to have 200 in 2013.

I also think that we will see the con­cept of a global cen­tre of ex­cel­lence form­ing around the pho­tonic/tele­com/wire­less space and a se­ri­ous and co-op­er­a­tive ef­fort by busi­ness and government to let the world know just how strong Ot­tawa is.

Sir Terry Matthews tells me that the west-end build­ings are fill­ing fast and that we may see more new con­struc­tion soon. Al­most all of the multi­na­tion­als in that part of town tell me they plan to grow in 2013. The startup com­mu­nity is also go­ing strong.

Our tal­ent is al­ready at­tract­ing new in­vest­ment, with more than $114 mil­lion poured into Ot­tawa star­tups last year. In 2013, that num­ber will go up. As an­nounced in De­cem­ber, with $10 mil­lion (and mar­ket ac­cess to China) avail­able from the Chi­nese firm ZDG, In­vest Ot­tawa will be a big draw not only for Ot­tawa com­pa­nies, but also for com­pa­nies from across Canada and the U.S. wish­ing to tap into this mas­sive mar­ket. Mean­while, the Cap­i­tal An­gel Net­work is re­freshed and will be more ac­tive in 2013, and don’t for­get that Canada’s new­est VC, Mis­tral Ven­ture Part­ners, will close in 2013 and be lo­cated right here in Ot­tawa.

I could go on, but 2013 will be a great year with a re­newed spirit of en­trepreneur­ship and growth – if we all con­tinue to pull to­gether.

Bruce Lazenby is pres­i­dent and CEO of In­vest Ot­tawa.

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