Photo above: Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (forefront) makes announcement at the DMZ at Ryerson University.
By Michael Van Cooten
TORONTO, Ontario — The Ontario government is partnering with IBM Canada and Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) to help up to 500 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) create jobs, embrace next-generation technologies and compete in the global marketplace.
Ontario Premier, Kathleen Wynne, made the announcement, yesterday, at the DMZ at Ryerson University — one of Canada’s largest business incubators for emerging tech start-up companies — that the province will invest up to $22.75 million, through the Jobs and Prosperity Fund, in the IBM Innovation Incubator (I3) Project.
“Our government has helped transform Ontario into a thriving tech hub by investing in an educated, talented workforce and fostering a culture of innovation. Today’s announcement reinforces our province’s position as an ideal place to develop and launch innovative new technologies and concepts, and will help strengthen our economy and create highly skilled jobs,” said the Premier.
The I3Project will help SMEs fast-track the launch of new technologies and products to international clients and further grow the province’s knowledge economy.
IBM will contribute $24.75 million towards the I3Project, which is expected to leverage over $410 million in private-sector investment and create up to 2,600 jobs.
“We are thrilled to be working with Ontario and OCE on the I<sup>3</sup> Project. The province’s contribution, paired with IBM’s own $24 million in-kind investment of cloud and cognitive technologies and associated expertise, will help firms accelerate their innovation cycle,” said Dino Trevisani, President of IBM Canada, adding, “This is a mandate we have continued to support through our unique collaborative research efforts with government, academia and enterprise.”
Participating businesses will leverage IBM’s technical resources, including cognitive business technology and a cloud-based development platform, as well as its physical space and network of customers to reduce the cost of developing new technologies and help their companies grow and succeed.
“Together with our partners, we have a legacy of success, having created 88 research jobs and helping to launch 38 new businesses with an established revenue pipeline of over $2 billion in Ontario.
“The I<sup>3</sup> initiative will enable us to further maximize our impact on Ontario’s knowledge-based economy, so small businesses and start-ups have the best chance possible to grow and compete globally,” continued Trevisani.
OCE will oversee the operations of the I3 Project and coordinate partnerships with industry. The organization is a provincial coordinator and member of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs, that works with industry, academia and government to stimulate business-led innovation.
“The I<sup>3</sup> Project is a partnership that will see start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs get the tools, technology and expertise they need to grow their business. We are pleased to have the opportunity to oversee this leading-edge initiative and deliver it across the province with our partners in the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs,” said OCE President, Tom Corr.
Strategically partnering with businesses to drive innovation is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs.
The four-part plan includes: investing in people’s talents and skills; making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province’s history; creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives; and building a secure retirement savings plan.
The province’s Jobs and Prosperity Fund (JPF) is providing $2.7 billion over 10 years to enhance productivity, bolster innovation and grow Ontario’s exports.
The Strategic Partnerships Stream, within the JPF, provides funding to help create industry-led partnerships focused on the adoption of disruptive technologies including Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics and Smart Computing technologies, and the creation of next-generation products and services.