Networker T H E K A N ATA
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE KANATA NORTH BUSINESS ASSOCIATION
BUSINESS ASSOCIA Fall 2018
WHERE WE WORK
GROWING MOBILE MARKET TAKES SSI MICRO’S KANATA TEAM NORTH Page 12
WHAT WE’RE GEEKING OUT ON iPocket232 takes high-tech payment systems to gas retailers Page 14
WHERE WE LIVE New platforms for improving mental health in the workplace Page 16
A HOME BETWEEN HOMES: How Premiere Suites helps Kanata companies attract top talent to the city Along with making a new hire’s move less stressful, studies show that a smooth relocation is also good for business As businesses in Kanata North continue to boom, so too does their need to hire top-tier talent. And for many companies, particularly those in tech, that often means looking beyond Ottawa to find the best person for the job. Moving within a city can be difficult enough, but relocating from another place – whether a different city, province or even country – creates a whole new set of challenges. As a strategic partner of Kanata North’s business community, Premiere Suites is positioned to address those challenges head on. “We are here for people who need more than a hotel room,” says Alex Cumminger, the firm’s director of business development. Premiere Suites has more than 30 short-term rental properties in Kanata, with more scattered throughout the rest of Ottawa. With a variety of townhomes and condos to choose from, the company is set up to host anyone from single professionals to those with families and even pets. “Pets are a major part of people’s lives,” says Cumminger. “If they had to make secondary arrangements for their pets that would just be another cause of stress, particularly if they’re travelling with kids.” More than a property management company, Premiere Suites offers fully furnished short term rentals
with full-sized kitchens, in suite laundry and all the other amenities needed to feel at home. Cumminger and his team work with HR departments, executive assistants and relocation managers to find the best location and unit for an incoming hire and their family in terms of number of bedrooms, accessibility and for families, proximity to local schools and activities. As a short-term rental provider with a typical stay length of more than 30 days, Premiere Suites offers a healthier and more cost-effective alternative to a hotel or home sharing service. Though they are less common, the company is also equipped to host guests for stays of seven nights or more. Units come equipped with a full kitchen, so guests can do groceries and enjoy home cooked meals rather than relying on take out or room service. “It’s a really turnkey operation,” he says. Guests benefit from full service in the units, which includes all utilities, unlimited internet access, VIP Rogers Cable, linens and towels and housekeeping. And for hiring companies footing the bill for a new hire’s relocation, Premiere Suites offers competitive rates, with stays of 30 days or more exempt from all taxes. Additionally, the company is fully insured and accredited, so hiring firms can rest easy knowing their newfound talent is in good hands with Premiere Suites.
WHY DOES A SMOOTH RELOCATION MATTER? For businesses hoping to attract top talent to Ottawa, a successful relocation can be the first step to a long, happy career with the hiring company. Along with making a new hire’s move less stressful, studies show that a smooth relocation is also good for business. In a recent study conducted by the Canadian Employee Relocation Council, selecting a neighbourhood and securing a residence were ranked as the top two causes for lost productivity among relocated employees.
Those companies that offer relocation decision assistance see an increase in acceptance from first-choice candidates. Overall, they also see a decrease in refusal.
When polled, 37 per cent of respondents cited concerns over housing or a mortgage as a reason for refusing a role in a new city.
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After being offered relocation decision assistance, 81 per cent of respondents accepted a new role, a stark contrast to the 50 per cent that agreed to move without it.
You can read CERC’s report at
Learn more at PremiereSuites.com. Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 613-695-6510.
A TIME OF RAPID TRANSFORMATION
#MemberMondays. The conversations have been electric and it is evident business is booming in our Kanata North tech hub. Regardless of whether you powered through the summer or took a step back to reflect, fall marks a time of rapid transformation for us all. Long-standing Kanata North company Martello Technologies, for example, rang in its public listing at the TSX Venture Exchange. Solace Systems also announced a landmark deal to underpin the connected car communications systems for one of the world’s biggest producers of premium vehicles, Daimler, further reinforcing our strength as Canada’s autonomous vehicle capital.
Jamie Petten Executive director Kanata North Business Association
FALL 2018 KANATA NETWORKER 3
s the summer comes to a close and we move ahead into fall, I can’t help but feel a surge of momentum picking up in the Kanata North community. I hope that many of you are returning from restful holidays, feeling recharged to take on the final stretch of 2018. Perhaps you took time away with your team to reflect on what’s been accomplished this year to date. For many of you, summer did not slow you down. Deborah and I have had the pleasure of meeting with many of our member companies over the past few months. Thank you Syntronic, Magnet Forensics, Fidus Systems, TrendMicro and many more for hosting us for
As I look around Kanata North, I can see the effects of our community’s growth. With the pace picking up, many of you are back in the office and as a result, back on the roads. Traffic congestion is at an all-time high. It’s a sign of economic growth and business strength in our community, but also a signal to our municipal leaders of the essential transformation required with our roads and city infrastructure. With the municipal election just around the corner, the promise of change is upon us and soon we will have new leadership representing the priorities of our business community. I encourage you to get active and share your thoughts about the issues that are important to your teams, businesses and families. Get engaged and informed. Most importantly, get out and vote. The future of our tech hub depends on it. With school back in session and the business community continuing to scale, talent continues to be a top priority. I look forward to working with educational partners in our community to advance how the bright minds of the future connect to the opportunities that are abundant in Canada’s largest technology park. Fall also emphasizes a time of personal transformation for me. Seven months ago, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child. Within the same week, I walked into a meeting with the Kanata North Business Association board of directors for an interview that would change my life. As a career-driven woman in tech, I have spent many sleepless nights over the years, wrestling with the notion of change. Turning down job opportunities and holding off growing my family as I thought if I chose one, it would mean deciding against the other. At the beginning of 2018, I decided to take a leap of faith and start saying YES. Yes to the job interview and offer of my dreams and yes to growing my family. It has been a whirlwind over these past seven months. Watching my body grow, feeling this little life inside of me and dreaming of what the future will look like when the baby arrives. All while leading a new company, getting to know the board, team and members of KNBA and planning for our future growth and direction. I have had the pleasure of meeting many fearless leaders in Kanata North, all of whom make up the unique DNA and collective identity of our business community. As the seasons change, it serves as a reminder to us all to embrace uncertainty and face transformation head on!
“THIS CITY … IS AN AMAZING TECHNOLOGY WAREHOUSE.” – Deepek Wanner, on the iPocket232 team pictured above. IPocket232 is giving gas stations new high-tech revenue tools. Read the full story on page 14.
WHAT’S NEW, WHAT’S NEXT Upcoming events and key dates
BUSINESS BRIEFING News from Canada’s largest tech park
TALENT Gnowit’s Shahzad Khan joins Lytica
10 NICHE RBR’s tech dives into the world’s deepest oceans 12 WHERE WE WORK SSi Micro connects Kanata tech to Canada’s North 14 WHAT WE’RE GEEKING OUT ON iPocket232 rethinks gas station chip card readers
16 WHERE WE LIVE Innovative mental health strategies in the workplace
T H E K A N ATA
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE KANATA NORTH BUSINESS ASSOCIATION
BUSINESS ASSOCIATION Fall 2018
4 KANATA NETWORKER FALL 2018
WHERE WE WORK
GROWING MOBILE MARKET TAKES SSI MICRO’S KANATA TEAM NORTH Page 12
The Kanata Networker is the official publication of the Kanata North Business Association. Learn more at kanatanorthbia.ca
WHAT WE’RE GEEKING OUT ON iPocket232 takes high-tech payment systems to gas retailers Page 14
WHERE WE LIVE New platforms for improving mental health in the workplace Page 16
All reporting by Rosa Saba
18 FINANCE Alacrity grows global portfolio 20 AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES A North American first in Kanata 22 LEADERSHIP Female mentors empower a new generation of tech talent
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REALTOR.CA HACKATHON 2018
Oct. 12-14 Developers, architects, UX designers, entrepreneurs, startups and tech companies are welcome to participate in the first-ever REALTOR.ca Hackathon. Canada’s No. 1 real estate website will be opening up a suite of data sets and APIs and challenge participants to design, build and demo a real-world solution in 48 hours. See our events calendar for more info.
BBQ & RAFFLE – SPECIAL LUNCH PARTY!
Sept. 26 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Crowe BGK LLP is hosting a special fundraiser for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation at the Community Hub in Kanata North in place of our Wednesday Lunch Party. Cost is $10 for lunch, includes two burgers, chips and drink. Come on out and support a good cause, enjoy lunch outdoors and BBQ at the Hub! Check our events calendar for details.
CANADIAN-EUROPEAN CONFERENCE FOR DIGITAL HEALTH
Oct. 22-23, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Canadian European Trade Assembly for Digital Health will bring together Canadian digital health stakeholders and thought leaders from the European Union Digital Health Society. The two-day conference will explore business opportunities under the new Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA) and connect Canadian, American and European stakeholders in the rapidly emerging fields of digital health and social care. See our events calendar for more details.
PURPOSE BEYOND PROFIT: HOW TO THRIVE IN A FUTURE THAT DEMANDS MORE 6 KANATA NETWORKER FALL 2018
#SERIOUSTECHLIVESHERE BOBS AWARD
Nominations close on Friday, Sept. 28 Is your business located in Kanata North? Here’s your chance to spotlight your company as a Best Ottawa Business. Send nominations for the Kanata North #SeriousTechLivesHere Team of The Year or Company of the Year visit www.bestottawabusiness.ca for details. The Awards Gala will take place on Nov. 30 at The Westin Ottawa.
Oct. 24, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. This is an interactive workshop that has everything leaders need to know about organizational purpose to make sure they don’t get left behind. From understanding the purpose market and defining your organization’s social personality, you’ll walk away with a greater understanding of what future employees and customers will be expecting and demanding. See our events calendar for more info.
AW 18-19 20
EMPLOYEES’ CHOICE AWARDS
Registration deadline is Oct. 5 The ECA awards are back and looking for the top employers in National Capital Region. Boost your workplace credibility and attract the best talent by becoming an Employees’ Choice! Winners will be announced at a special awards presentation on Dec. 6. See our events calendar for more information or visit www.employeeschoice.ca to register your company.
Nov. 1-2, from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. A flagship conference for start-ups, entrepreneurs, SMEs, industry veterans, investors and other members of the Canadian business community. The two-day conference will bring together members of the Canadian and global business community with an all-star roster of speakers from companies such as IBM, Nokia and Angellist who will provide insight on emerging innovations, business trends and competitive intelligence. There is an opportunity for startups to pitch at the TiECon Pitchfest for seed funding.
2018 COUNTERMEASURE IT SECURITY CONFERENCE Nov. 1-2, from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. This conference is Ottawa’s premier IT security event and will feature some of the world’s most knowledgeable and influential IT security experts in private, public and research sectors. Join the opportunity to network with IT security experts. For more details see our events calendar.
SAAS NORTH 2018
Nov. 28-29, from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Canada’s only SaaS conference for scaling up. Ignited by L-SPARK, join a community of rockstar entrepreneurs, innovators and world-leading experts from across the SaaS ecosystem as they share their insights on driving exponential growth, building killer teams strategies for fundraising and partnerships. See our events calendar for info or visit saasnorth.com.
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Kanata North … in brief Meet the KNBIA at AGM Join the Kanata North Business Association on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 5 p.m. for its annual general meeting at the Marshes Golf Club. The evening will bring together the Kanata North tech community for some networking, drinks, a recap of the past year and a discussion about the association’s plans for the coming months. Come provide feedback on the BIA’s activities, meet your fellow members and hear about what’s new and what’s next.
omNovos partners with Farm Boy on customer experience app Local food retailer Farm Boy is looking to create an app with two Ottawa companies aimed at streamlining and
enhancing the shopping experience. One company, omNovos, is a Kanatabased firm that specializes in mining customer data to help companies get to know their customers. In a media release, omNovos compared the app to the Starbucks app in terms of personalization. Ottawa company Iversoft will be responsible for the user interface, while OmNovos will be responsible for the back-end infrastructure of the app. It’s a big, multi-year contract, and a possible springboard for growth for the company, which evolved from local company DataKinetics in 2015.
Numbercrunch expands to Kanata
After four years of managing accounting, auditing and CFO duties for Ottawa’s tech startups, local firm numbercrunch has expanded to include
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a Kanata location. Co-founder Susan Richards says they saw an increase in interest from Kanata, since its target clients are tech startups looking to scale. “It made sense to come to Kanata,” Richards says, adding that the new office has more of a tech company vibe. As numbercrunch continues to build out their services, Richards says the proximity to Ottawa’s tech hub can only benefit the company. “Our DNA is here,” she says. “We’re really excited about getting more involved in this community.”
Martello goes public Kanata-based Martello Technologies made its debut on the TSX Venture Exchange in mid-September, marking yet another milestone for one of Ottawa’s fastest-growing tech firms. Trading under the symbol MTLO, the company’s shares opened at $0.50, giving the firm a valuation around $85.9 million. Martello’s technology manages and troubleshoots communications systems
handling high network traffic for enterprise enterprise customers. “We aren’t a fad,” CEO John Proctor told The Networker this summer. “As you add more requirements and data, we become more in demand, which is a great place to be.” Martello went public via a reverse takeover of a Vancouver-based shell company and is exploring additional acquisitions.
PROMOTING A PROGRESSIVE & DIVERSE ENGINEERING PROFESSION The 16 th Annual Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Fall Forum
REGISTER NOW • OSPEWEACT.CA
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OCT.10.2018 • THE SHAW CENTRE This year’s theme centres around Women’s History Month. Together we will celebrate the invaluable contributions of historic and modern-day trailblazers— women in engineering who have shaped and changed our country. Here’s what you can expect: • Learn how to support gender equity in the workplace • Build your professional network • Gain valuable career advice
TO LEARN MORE:
FOR INQUIRIES, CONTACT: Natasha Reid, Community Engagement & Events Specialist email@example.com
Amid rapid growth, Lytica hires Shahzad Khan as chief research officer Gnowit founder forgoes Facebook job to stay in Kanata
Dr. Shahzad Khan joined Lytica as its chief research officer earlier in 2018. combating human error in supply chain data by mapping data to an in-house reference library. Even though one of Khan’s job offers was a Facebook position in London, England, he says the decision to stay in Kanata made the most sense for him. Originally from Pakistan, he’s been in Ottawa since 2007 and has built a life in Canada’s capital. “I’m very happy with the way I can contribute to the ecosystem here,” he says, adding that he likes the steady, community-like feel of the technology park. “I felt that long-term I’d be happier staying in Ottawa,” says Khan. “The
Alongside his new role at Lytica, Shahzad Khan is also an adviser at several other tech companies, including: • zazuhōm (Ottawa) • EdgeworthBox (New York City) • BluWave-ai (Ottawa) • DroneEntry (Ottawa)
relationships are long term. You get to know people, and you stick with them and they stick with you.”
Most of Lytica’s clients are international, and Khan says that’s reflected in the diverse team working out of Kanata, which he jokes is like “a mini U.N” with dozens of languages spoken among the 21 people at the firm. Khan also wants to see Lytica continue growing – the firm has been doubling in size annually in recent years – and he wants to maintain that pattern and be part of the company’s long-term goals. The transition from Gnowit to Lytica was a logical one, he says. “It made sense for me, it made sense for the team, it made sense for our clients.”
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arlier in 2018, Dr. Shahzad Khan had a decision to make. He had a few job offers that would take him away from Kanata, where he had worked for several years as the founder of Gnowit, a platform that processes around 1.2 million documents a day from reliable sources such as news articles and public government information. He also had the opportunity to join Kanata-based company Lytica, which for a year had been working with Gnowit. Lytica, which Khan says has some of the biggest companies in the world on its client list, provides supply chain information and benchmarking data to companies that are procuring electronic components. Gnowit’s capability to distill and process real-time information was an asset to the company’s work. What began as a once-a-week consulting contract turned into a fulltime job that resulted in Khan, as well as several of his Gnowit team members, joining Lytica. Within three months of his initial consulting contract, Khan says it became clear that Gnowit had a lot to offer Lytica. Gnowit’s services helped to lower Lytica’s failure rate by around 80 per cent, he says. “It was related to the same things – being able to pull data from online sources (and) being able to make sense of documents,” he says. “It was a winwin situation for everyone.” He officially joined Lytica as its chief research officer in April 2018. Khan is currently working on Lytica’s new project, a solution aimed at
To the ocean floor and back: RBR marks 45th anniversary Specialized technology provides insights into climate change, earthquakes
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Global deployment: RBR technology has been used around the world, including Greenland, Antarctica, Bermuda and Quebecâ€™s Saguenay Fjord (clockwise from top). Provided by RBR.
BR began in 1973, in the basement of a British engineer’s Glebe home. Founder Richard Brancker launched the business to provide electronics consulting for the government, and what started as a small basement company not only took over his house, but also the one next door. When Brancker retired in the late 1990s, fellow British expat Frank Johnson took over the company and turned it on its head, focusing on a specific product RBR had become an expert in: a simple water temperature recorder. Over the next 12 years, RBR worked on this device until it was as accurate as possible, all the while expanding its sensor-based technology. Some 45 years since Brancker’s humble Glebe beginnings, RBR – which now calls Hines Road in Kanata North home – is a leader in developing specialized instruments that measure various oceanographic parameters, helping to provide insights into climate change and taking scientific research into the deepest parts of the world’s oceans. In addition to the temperature sensor technology, RBR develops loggers to store the data and telemetry systems to recover
the data remotely, resulting in an all-inone device. Johnson’s son, Greg, took over the company around six years ago. An expert in X-ray instrumentation and material science, Greg wasn’t an oceanographer when he joined RBR to run its research and development department, but he threw himself in head-first and helped grow the company from a team of 20 to 53. He speaks with pride about the niche RBR has carved for itself in a highly specialized industry (the company only has a handful of competitors worldwide). “We have instruments that have been to the bottom of Marianas Trench (in the Pacific Ocean) … we have instruments that are deployed from the polar regions to the tropics,” he says. “They’ve been buried in permafrost in Canadian Arctic … we have instruments that are put into glaciers.” RBR’s devices have even been embedded in the Earth’s crust after an earthquake caused a deadly tsunami in Japan in 2011. By measuring the temperature using a chain of the devices planted across the fault line, scientists were able to detect tectonic plates rubbing together, providing insight into the minute
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT WEEK
MAY 22 - 24
level of friction that could cause another earthquake. With the temperature recorder already at maximum accuracy, RBR has been focused on developing its user-friendly device into a system of components that can be sold separately for other uses. For example, RBR’s sensors have been used in an underwater drone collecting data related to the prediction of climate change. One of the things that makes RBR a leader in its industry is a focus on devices
with low power consumption, allowing users to deploy devices and leave them to work for up to ten years. Six years ago, Greg moved RBR into an unfinished building in Kanata, where the company was able to design the space they needed. Being in the technology park also fits with RBR’s growth plans, he says. “We’re always looking for new staff and it’s much easier to find them here,” he says. “There’s just such tremendous strength of talent.”
613-831-2121 420 Hazeldean Road, Kanata, ON K2L 4B2
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MAI 22 - 24 CENTRE SHAW
>> S PO NS ORSH IP OPPORTUN ITIES AVAILAB LE! FALL 2018 KANATA NETWORKER 11
Veniot. Providing broadband to the Arctic is still a new frontier. The next frontier is mobile. Now, SSi Micro is rolling out cellular services to the communities it serves, with the goal of completing the project by the end of 2018.
where we work
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Kanata SSi Micro team pushing new frontiers in Canada’s North With its head office located 5,000 kilometres away, local team fosters a unique workplace culture while collaborating with colleagues in Yellowknife
ehind SSi Micro’s Kanata office, two satellites point to the sky, one housed in an inflated protective globe. The signals they receive come from some of Canada’s most remote northern communities. SSi Micro is an internet and mobile
provider, with internet services in 25 communities in Nunavut and more across the territories. However, it was actually founded before the internet – Jeff Philipp and his wife Stef started SSi Micro in 1990 as a small computer seller out of the Snowshoe Inn in Fort Providence, N.W.T.
The operation grew, and its first broadband satellite network was launched in five communities in 1998. That became Qiniq, SSi Micro’s internet service provider. “We’ve been first at a lot of things,” says communications manager David
The Kanata location opened in 2012, and has since grown to house more employees than the Yellowknife headquarters. It’s a state-of-the-art teleport facility, as well as an engineering office and network monitoring centre. The Kanata location employs a diverse set of people, many of whom had never been to the North until they joined SSi Micro. Part of the Kanata location’s appeal is its proximity to the federal government, says chief development officer Dean Proctor. SSi Micro works closely with regulatory bodies and government organizations that subsidize some of its work. Its main competitor is Northwestel, owned by Bell, which is now starting to roll out mobile services in some of the same communities Qiniq operates in. Veniot says the meaning of Qiniq is about more than just internet, something often taken for granted elsewhere in Canada. Bringing connectivity to these communities had an immediate and positive impact on education, health care and business. Schools can now access online educational resources; health-care providers have improved access to upto-date research; and small businesses started to use Facebook and email to reach more customers, allowing them to expand their client base and use digital tools to coordinate product deliveries. SSi Micro also started a program in partnership with Cisco called Connected North. Using the same high-definition telepresence units that link the Kanata and Yellowknife boardrooms, they connected classrooms with educators from around the world. Attendance rates spiked almost immediately, and Proctor says they’ve stayed high, resulting in better grades and graduation rates. With the addition of mobile, Proctor says the impact is just as strong, especially for the younger population. “You’re bringing in a product – mobile service – to a community that’s never had it before,” he says. “They
“YOU’RE BRINGING IN A PRODUCT – MOBILE SERVICE – TO A COMMUNITY THAT’S NEVER HAD IT BEFORE.” – Dean Proctor, chief development officer, SSi Micro
ABOVE: Left to right: John Muise, David Veniot and Shannon Spooner stand in the Kanata clubhouse. Shannon is part of SSi Micro’s People/Person Department, and organizes events to help foster the connection between the Kanata and Northern employees. LEFT: David Veniot is SSi Micro’s communications manager. PHOTOS BY MARK HOLLERON
know what they’re missing, and when it arrives, it’s extremely gratifying to see.”
COMMITMENT TO LOCAL CULTURE
Will Ingarfield, manager of network services, has worked for SSi Micro since he finished high school. He visits the Kanata location a couple of times a year now that the customer care team is expanding. He says he didn’t realize at first how lucky he was to work for SSi Micro.
“We get a lot of leeway with doing what is right,” he says. In essence, SSi Micro will do whatever it takes to make things work for their customers. For example, some of the communities are what Veniot calls “cash economies,” often hunters or carvers who don’t have a need for the credit cards typically used for prepaid internet or mobile plans. The customer service representatives in each community, many of whom are Inuit and/or speak Inuktitut, have their own credit cards so that customers aren’t forced to sign up for one just to prepay for service. “We have a commitment to working with the local culture,” says Cory Wishak, director of engineering. Previously with Bell, Wishak sought out SSi Micro after some volunteer work in remote areas made him realize Canada had communities that were still under-served when it came to communications. “We’re doing something for the very first time,” says Wishak. “That’s exactly what I was hoping to do.”
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The meaning of this work is not lost on the people who work at SSi Micro, even those who are based in Kanata, almost 5,000 kilometres from Yellowknife. There’s a huge focus on company culture, especially when it comes to fostering and maintaining a connection between the Kanata employees and what goes on up North. Most of them have been at least once; Proctor spends one week out of every six in the Northwest Territories. Part of that culture is SSi Micro’s mission, and the inspiring nature of the company’s founder. Philipp makes sure to stay connected with the Kanata office, and reaches out to every new hire. His passion for his work is infectious, says Veniot.
He explains that it was never just about computers, telecom or mobile for Philipp. It has alwats been about improving the Northern communities he cared about, and that mission is what has driven him to grow SSi Micro into the company it is today. “When you meet Jeff, you get a sense of the company’s passion,” he says. “He’s seen the problems in the communities, and he’s got a really good idea about how to solve them.” John Muise, director of network services, says having a mission makes it easy for everyone to stay motivated. SSi Micro puts a lot of effort into hiring a certain kind of person, based on three main qualities: Technical qualification, passion for the job and sociability. “You have to have all three of those ingredients to be successful,” he says. As a tight-knit, hard-working team,
Muise says it’s important that new hires understand the mission and are driven to get to know the company, both in Kanata and the North. Both locations have “clubhouses,” living-room-style spaces used for lunch, events and afterwork socializing. “The culture that they’ve developed (in Yellowknife) for working is what we’re always trying to imitate here,” says Muise. There’s even a department for that: the People Person Department, or PPD, which has a hand in hiring as well as the events held in both offices. PPD employees collaborate for Christmas parties and planning celebrations to mark other religious holidays including Eid and Diwali.
BELOW: Installed in gas stations, FuelLynx uses demographic data from customers’ cards to target advertising and can also notify the customer of in-store deals or coupons. FACING PAGE: The iPocket232 team has extensive experience with payment systems as well as the gas station industry. PHOTOS BY MARK HOLLERON
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what we’re geeking out on
Profit at the pump: iPocket232’s networking gear to generate new revenues for retailers Some 150,000 U.S. gas stations have yet to install chip card readers. A Kanata North company is giving them an increased incentive to upgrade.
n the heart of the Kanata technology park, a small company focused on networking gear for gas stations has been quietly working on a new project – a chip-card reader retrofit for self-serve gas pumps, but one that does much more than just take payments. Deepak Wanner founded Precidia Technologies in 1999, focusing on application-specific integrated circuits, or ASICs, for Internet of Things technology. During the tech bust, the company pivoted toward networking gear. As North American payment technology gravitated to chip cards, Precidia was purchased in 2015 by U.S. firm Merchant Link, which was keen to acquire the firm’s payment software and devices. What was left became iPocket232, named for the networking gear sold
to reduce the credit card fees business owners pay, such as Venmo or Walmart Pay. Wanner says iPocket’s team recognized a need and opportunity for innovation in the gas industry. “We would like to do something different,” he says.
“IT’S A RIPE MARKET FOR CONVERSION.” – Deepak Wanner, owner, WannLynx
insight into a largely untapped market, according to Wanner. The deadline for installing chip-card readers at U.S. self-serve fuel pumps has been extended to Oct.1, 2020, a date imposed by bank and credit card companies. Since there’s no incentive for gas station owners to retrofit their pumps other than to comply with regulations, Wanner says around 150,000 gas stations across the U.S. have yet to make the switch. “It’s a ripe market for conversion,” he says. How? “You’ve got to give them some value at the pump.”
That value comes in the form of an interactive screen that works in tandem with the chip reader to offer tailored advertising, from both outside companies and the gas station itself. WannLynx, or its product FuelLynx, can use demographic data from the card to target advertising, and can also notify the customer of in-store deals or coupons; with the rise in self-serve pumps, gas station owners are constantly looking for ways to get customers inside their store. Unlike iPocket232’s networking products, which are hardware-based, most of FuelLynx’s capabilities are housed in the cloud, which will customize content on the screen. It’s not just advertising – there’s also an opportunity to offer surveys or other interactive options. Between advertising revenue and higher in-store profits, Wanner says the FuelLynx upgrade offers gas station owners a way to subsidize the cost of a retrofit. WannLynx is also looking at including alternate payment methods
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primarily to gas stations in the U.S. and Canada. IPocket232 continued on a steady path and its development team members recently began working on a new venture called WannLynx, focused on chip payment retrofits for U.S. gas stations. Meanwhile, Wanner has been working for Merchant Link for three years since the acquisition of Precidia. This October, he plans to rejoin iPocket232 as it prepares to launch WannLynx. The company’s history with payment systems, combined with its knowledge of the petroleum and gas station industry, has provided it with
Pat Wudwud, manager for iPocket232 and WannLynx, says when the company began focusing on networking gear, they “always knew” iPocket232 would be a launchpad for another venture. Now, with the deadline for chipreader conversion on the horizon, the company has been focused on developing and testing the three technological aspects of WannLynx: secure payments, advertising potential and data analytics. WannLynx is looking for investors, and is planning to ramp up hiring in both Canada and the U.S. There are currently a handful of employees in the Kanata R&D office, but Wanner wants to see the location grow to 20-30 developers, with more sales staff in the U.S., since that’s where the company’s primary market is. However, moving iPocket232’s or WannLynx’s R&D elsewhere has never been an option. Wanner says a diverse talent pool combined with an innovation-friendly government have made Kanata the right environment to develop in. “This city … is an amazing technology warehouse,” says Wanner. As for the local market, Canadian gas stations were retrofitted with chip readers around five years ago, says Wanner. Most gas station networking technology is used for around a decade before it’s upgraded, so within five years he hopes to see the Canadian market open up. Wanner acknowledges that the idea of targeted advertising is not one many consumers find appealing. However, he says that with the declining reach of traditional advertising and the rise in targeted advertising on social media platforms, companies are looking for new dedicated audiences – and those two or three minutes at the pump may be the next place to find it. “We just want to be at the right place at the right time,” he says.
where we live
Kanata tech leaders tackle mental health in the changing workplace Community shares innovative strategies aimed at sector’s unique challenges
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s mental health awareness becomes an increasingly prevalent subject in public and at work, people are turning to new platforms to deal with topics such as anxiety, depression and burnout. Whether it’s a manager who’s open to discussing anxiety, an entrepreneur whose mentor takes note of their stress levels, or even an app that makes access to mental health support easier, the Kanata tech community is full of initiatives aimed at destigmatizing mental health issues in the workplace. Over the summer, members of the community came together for Working
Minds #GetLouder, an afternoon event that included several panel discussions featuring tech leaders talking about mental health, sharing their professional perspectives and personal stories. The event was organized by the Kanata developers behind the mental health app SnapClarity. It works by starting with a digital mental health checkup that determines risk levels and a treatment plan before linking the user with a therapist who can be reached via text and video calling. The high-tech approach taken by SnapClarity reflects, in part, the needs of an evolving workforce. CEO Terri
“WHETHER YOU’RE A CEO OR WHETHER YOU’RE A MANAGER … MENTAL HEALTH DOESN’T DISCRIMINATE.”– Trisha Cooke, vice-president of marketing, You.i TV Storey hopes that she can move beyond individual users and enter the businessto-business space, with SnapClarity included as part of employee benefit packages. “We need to take better care of our mental health,” she says. “I don’t think people realize the economic and also the humanistic impacts.”
SUPPORT FOR ENTREPRENEURS Aside from its potential in traditional workplaces, SnapClarity could also
benefit entrepreneurs and other selfemployed people. For Erin Blaskie, who worked as an entrepreneur for 13 years and spoke at the #GetLouder event, mental health was a re-occurring struggle that she couldn’t placate with paid sick days, employee benefits or the support of a manager. “When you’re self-employed, there’s nothing,” she says. “There’s no one who’s going to pay your bills when you’re off.” One particularly devastating depressive episode, triggered in part by the heavy
workload she had brought upon herself in an effort to continue her successful career trajectory, made Blaskie realize she needed to make some changes. “Thankfully, I was able to work my way out of it,” she says, but it wasn’t easy. With some support from her family and several understanding clients, she “put one foot in front of the other,” pulling herself from the depths of the episode and managing to finish the work she had set out for herself. She changed her entire business model once she got through those projects. “I knew the way I had been going wasn’t sustainable, and I didn’t want to put myself back in the same situation,” she says. Blaskie focused on clients with long-term potential, narrowing her portfolio from around 70 to roughly a half-dozen. The new plan worked – without the stress of finding new projects, she was able to better manage her own health and her business. In her current role at L-Spark, she’s in a more traditional workplace, and says the difference in support is noticeable. “My entire life looks different now,” she says. “I’m much more supported now as an employee than I was as a selfemployed person.”
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE • 1 in 5 Canadians experience a psychological health problem or illness in any given year. • Psychological health problems and illnesses are the No. 1 cause of disability in Canada. • Psychological health problems cost the Canadian economy — $51 billion per year, $20 billion of which results from work-related causes.
Erin Blaskie says she wants to pass on some of the mental health lessons she’s learned to other entrepreneurs. She works closely with many entrepreneurs, and hopes to be able to pass on some of what she’s learned so they don’t go through the same difficulties she did.
Trisha Cooke of You.i TV, who also spoke at #GetLouder, says she’s noticed the conversation about mental health opening up during her career in technology. “When I first started out, it was not something you discussed,” she says,
• 47% of working Canadians consider their work to be the most stressful part of daily life. • In any given week, at least 500,000 employed Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems. (Source: Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2016)
referring to the anxiety she has often struggled with. Though she talks about her mental health with friends and some colleagues, she says sharing her experience at that event was an important step toward the destigmatization of mental health issues in the workplace. “Whether you’re a CEO or whether you’re a manager … mental health doesn’t discriminate,” she says.
Cooke highlighted the fact that employees need more than a good benefits package – if their manager is open to talking about mental health, they will be comfortable bringing up any problems they are having. Amy MacLeod, corporate diversity officer and vice-president of strategic communications at Mitel, says companies and managers should be starting to rethink the health supports they have in place for their employees. Mental health is increasingly recognized in conjunction with physical health, and she says SnapClarity is just one example of how technology can help address the growing need for mental health support. She also highlights the 24/7 nature of work, especially in the tech industry, as something that can be detrimental to mental health. “There really is no disconnect from the workplace,” she says, adding that managers should take note of employees who are overworking themselves, such as responding to emails at 2 a.m. “Managers, be aware,” she advises. “Opening the conversation on that level is the first step.”
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To stay ahead, contact Sean Murphy, CPA, CMA, FCMC, PMP, Regional Managing Partner and National Leader, Digital Services, at 613.271.3700 x 500 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Alacrity’s growing investments puts Kanata at the centre of global startup network Wesley Clover-backed initiative uses unique partnership model to build international ecosystem
he Alacrity Global Initiative continues to expand its portfolio of tech startups and venture capital funds around the world, with recent additions in Mexico City and Pune, India. The Alacrity Global Initiative was developed around five years ago by local company Wesley Clover, beginning in B.C. and expanding around the world.
Alacrity and Wesley Clover now have a presence in France, China, Mexico, Turkey, the U.S. and many other countries, with more in development. The Alacrity model is based on the strategy used by local tech titan Terry Matthews for decades, and involves the establishment of a network of micro
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International presence and development ALACRITY GLOBAL/WESLEY CLOVER POINTS OF PRESENCE ALACRITY GLOBAL MARKETS IN DEVELOPMENT
funds of between $10 million and $20 million. Wesley Clover identifies local investment partners such as individuals and governments, then finds and establishes a fund manager, who works with local universities for recruiting. “We work within the local economy,” says Greg Vanclief, the managing director of the Alacrity Global program. Working with the fund manager, Wesley Clover consults local customers to identify a need and a possible technology solution. Local universities
Greg Vanclief is the managing director of the Alacrity Global program. focus on recruiting an entrepreneurial team to start the company. Wesley Clover becomes a minority investor in the resulting fund, often along with Export Development Canada. Wesley Clover contributes intellectual property and resources to help companies grow more quickly. The startup can also partner with more than 50 Wesley Clover companies worldwide to use existing technology and access marketing channels so they can develop and deliver faster.
“WHAT WE DO IN OTTAWA IS WE SET THE BROAD STROKES OF THE GLOBAL STRATEGY.” – Greg Vanclief is the managing director of the Alacrity Global program.
“We’re identifying a customer and a customer need first, (rather than) identifying a company and a product ... and then trying to find a market,” explains Vanclief. “That allows us to create companies very quickly, create companies that have a global market from the get-go, and that are part of a global network in this Alacrity ecosystem.” Once the entrepreneurs have been recruited, they take part in a one-month boot camp in Kanata. The program exposes the entrepreneurs to existing Wesley Clover companies, as well as training them in business basics and development. In addition, they partner with local accelerator L-Spark to offer
learning from the later stage of startup development. Alacrity’s headquarters in Kanata are strategic for several reasons, according to Vanclief. One of them is, of course, Terry Matthews himself. Countries around the world draw upon the resources provided by Wesley Clover. “What we do in Ottawa is we set the broad strokes of the global strategy,” says Vanclief. “We want them to be able to come to Ottawa and be able to receive and accept coaching.” One example of the Alacrity model at work is three-year-old Istanbul, Turkey company Pisano, which Vanclief says has already had commercial success outside of its local market. Pisano works with retailers to help them identify and react to customer needs in-store. The company recently closed some outside funding, which Vanclief says is an important landmark for any Alacrity startup. “It validates that the company has some market success,” he says. “We want these companies to start locally, but ... with the viewpoint that they are going to go global as quickly as possible.”
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“ALL OF THE PIECES ARE COMING TOGETHER FOR OTTAWA TO BE THE AV CAPITAL WE WANT IT TO BE.” – Jamie Petten, executive director, Kanata North Business Association before the funding announcement; Invest Ottawa and the Kanata North Business Association, along with CAVCOE, have been looking for AV opportunities and working on the public track in Kanata North. “Things are already in motion,” says Kelly Daize, director of global expansion for Invest Ottawa.
BLACKBERRY QNX DEMO
In 2017, BlackBerry QNX conducted the first-ever autonomous vehicle test in North America using live city infrastructure.
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North America’s first autonomous vehicle test track coming to Kanata New facility follows groundbreaking 2017 on-road demo
anata is home to an extensive ecosystem of companies involved in the research and development of autonomous vehicle technology. It’s a diverse field of firms and involves telecom companies led by BlackBerry
QNX, Ericsson, Nokia and Juniper Networks; sensor companies such as SMATS and Neptec; companies that specialize in last-mile transportation including Aurrigo; and many more companies in robotics, cybersecurity and connectivity. Post-secondary instutions Algonquin College, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa are also part of this evolving collaborative effort. Now, Ottawa will receive up to $5
million through the AVIN Program delivered by the Ontario Centres of Excellence to create an integrated AV test environment, the first in North America. This means the addition of a private test track in west Ottawa, plans for which are already underway. Companies will be able to conduct tests that aren’t ready or licensed for public roads yet on the private track. However, plans have been in the works for at least a year and a half
In October 2017, BlackBerry QNX used the existing public track for the first-ever AV test using live city infrastructure in North America. Witnesses saw the car stop at a traffic light for a pedestrian crossing. The track, located in the Kanata technology park, is enabled with short-range wireless communication technology in nine traffic lights as well as a Novatel GPS system. Soon, the track will also have 4G capabilities, cameras, Nokia sensors and a 5G test spectrum from Ericsson and ISED. Jamie Petten, executive director of the Kanata North Business Association, highlights how this test environment will be right in the backyard of Ottawa’s AV cluster, making it accessible for all the companies involved in AV research and development. “All of the pieces are coming together for Ottawa to be the AV capital we want it to be,” she says. Kelly says she sees Ottawa’s AV cluster as a central source of development for the most integral part of AV technology: communication. “We don’t make the tires, we don’t make the doors … we make the intelligence,” she says. Don’t expect to be buying your own autonomous vehicle anytime soon, though: Barrie Kirk of CAVCOE explains that while AV technology is already being used in the mining industry, the next place we’re likely to see it used is in farming. After that will come last-mile pods and then eventually driverless cars, which he predicts will be mostly taxis or ride-sharing vehicles. “Nobody is going to throw a big switch … it’s gradual,” he says.
Clearford lands Amazon warehouse contract
Kanata-based Clearford Water Systems has been contracted to supply the wastewater treatment facility for the new Amazon warehouse on Boundary Road. The one-million-square-foot warehouse in Ottawa’s east end is being built by Broccolini Construction, which selected Clearford to provide the engineering, design and installation of the treatment facility. Broccolini began construction of the warehouse this summer, with a capacity for up to 1,000 Amazon employees fulfilling online orders. The warehouse needs a separate wastewater treatment facility because of its distance from central Ottawa. Kevin Loiselle, president and CEO of Clearford, said in a press release that the company is looking forward to fulfilling such a significant contract in their own backyard. “Land developers, businesses and municipalities are all benefitting
from the innovative clean technology solutions being developed right here in Ottawa,” said Loiselle.
Crank Software earns John Deere Supplier Innovation award
Kanata company Crank Software received the John Deere Supplier Innovation award April 2018 for its Storyboard Suite software. The award recognizes innovation in the Electronic Controls division as part of John Deere’s Achieving Excellence program, with awards based on four factors – creativity, feasibility, collaboration, and bottom-line impact. Crank Software specializes in embedded user interface (UI) software and solutions. Storyboard Suite is aimed at reduced the complexity of developing UI products by allowing designers and developers to work in tandem on creating user experiences.
Incognito expands to Kanata North
Incognito Software Systems made its expansion into the Kanata Technology Park official this fall as the firm broadens its global footprint. The company’s technology helps digital service providers manage their devices and services, as well as lowering costs through automation. Incognito said in a statement that the new satellite office in Kanata North is a strategic location for the company, putting it next door to other global technology companies and helping to reach the tech talent being cultivated in Ottawa. Incognito is also expanding to the Philippines to support its growing customer base in southeast Asia. “This growth is representative of the great strides we have taken as a team, and the value we deliver to digital service providers around the world,” CEO David Sharpley stated. Incognito is a division of the Volaris Group, an operating arm of Torontobased Constellation Software.
Momentum Law triples Kanata North footprint A growing Kanata law firm recently celebrated its threeyear anniversary as it moved to a new 2,800-square-foot office, tripling its footprint. Momentum Law currently has seven employees in Ottawa, plus another in Montreal, as is planning to expand to Toronto with an additional two staff members. “Ottawa is definitely growing,” says Megan Cornell, Momentum’s founder and CEO. “There is work coming in from so many directions.” Cornell says she plans to continue expanding into 2019, focusing on Kitchener-Waterloo and secondary markets in the Greater Toronto Area.
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Susan Richards, the first female chair of Invest Ottawa, says female leaders have an opportunity to be examples to others. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON
Kanata tech community fosters female leadership 22 KANATA NETWORKER FALL 2018
Growing number of initiatives and events help women broaden networks, grow careers
hen Leah MacMillan started her career in technology 28 years ago at Corel, she says a strong female leader and mentor made all the difference when it came to fostering her career growth. Though she was in a male-dominated industry, she says having someone on her side meant the barriers faced by many women seemed diminished. “Working in tech, women have always been outnumbered,” she says. “I was used
to being the only woman at the table.” Now, as the head of corporate marketing at Trend Micro, MacMillan wants to inspire the next generation of female leaders in technology, in part by playing the same role that her leader and mentor did for her. “I feel that sharing my experiences (is) almost like my way of giving back,” she says. That opportunity comes in many forms, including public forums where
women share their experiences, such as panel discussions, networking events or other initiatives. There are currently more of these opportunities than ever, and leaders from the Kanata tech park are investing in and supporting such initiatives as Women in Technology or Technovation. Last May, a standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 attendees filled L-Spark’s Kanata offices to hear the perspectives of other inspiring women entrepreneurs at Female Founders & Funders. L-Spark is also building the largest database of Canadian female founders, funders and the organizations that support them, all of which are publicly available online. But personal, less formal connections are also still key for women in the industry, where women like MacMillan can help foster leadership, learn from each other, and continue to address diversity in technology. Leah says that informal settings often provide an opportunity for making connections that can be hard to find in a male-dominated industry. “It’s a way of just connecting people,”
she says. “We use it as an opportunity to share.” Thusha Agampodi of Magnet Forensics began organizing monthly lunches with other women in the tech park as a way of broadening the network of female leaders in the community. “I just thought it would be good to have that other perspective,” she says. The first lunch, which MacMillan attended, was small – but the group has only grown since, attracting women from a variety of companies including BlackBerry and IBM. The group is an informal way of networking and making connections that might not happen elsewhere, says Agampodi. “They’re all really accomplished women, and I find our lunches are really inspiring,” she says. The group is comprised of women from all levels of leadership, as well. Arwa Kassamali has been in Kanata for four years, having moved from the U.S. She currently works at Abbott, and is involved in an initiative at her workplace to help engage girls in STEM careers. She joined Thusha’s group as a way of broadening her network, learning about opportunities within the tech park, and making connections that might help her grow her career. “You have to put yourself out there,” she says, adding that the informality of the group made it easier for her to connect with the other women. Kassamali says it’s important to continue making time to foster those connections. “Whether you’re just starting in your career or you’re 25 years in, you need to make the time to hear these stories,” she says. “When I do meet a woman executive who’s in the technical role, and they’re keeping up with it, it’s pretty impressive and often inspiring.” For Susan Richards, the first female chair of Invest Ottawa, one of the most important changes she’s seeing is a slow rise in the number of female leaders at the executive level. As more women rise to leadership roles in technology, Richards says they play an important role for other women with leadership goals. “The leaders in our community … have an opportunity to be an example to others,” she says.
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The Kanata Networker is a publication available in both print and online, that highlights news and events from the Kanata North business com...
Published on Sep 21, 2018
The Kanata Networker is a publication available in both print and online, that highlights news and events from the Kanata North business com...