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OTTAWA’S HEALTHCARE RS INNOVATOT NEED S TO BE DONE IN ONTARIO’S

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WHO ARE OTTAWA’S HEALTHCARE INNOVATORS? PAGES 4-5

IS CANADA.CA DOOMED?a’s digital

The man behind Obam Page 2 transformation weighs in

SELLING OUT

Ed Bilat talks about what’s missing in Ottawa sales skills Page 7

OTTAWA’S HEALTHCARE INNOVATORS EXPLORING WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE IN ONTARIO’S HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, AND WHO IN THE CAPITAL IS DOING IT

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CANADA.CA PROJECT RIFE WITH COMMON, COSTLY MISTAKES: EXPERTS IT professionals say problems that have plagued massive projects such as Healthcare.gov are being repeated in Canada BY CRAIG LORD

In February, in a cozy room in the Lord Elgin Hotel, I was part of a crowd of IT professionals and public servants attending a seminar called “Digital Transformation Under the Obama Administration: A Retrospective.” Each of us were there to hear Tom Cochran, the former director of digital platforms at the White House. For about a half hour, he took us through the frustrating process of changing attitudes in the White House to adopt and embrace the digital tools necessary to govern efficiently. The failures along the way were numerous, and he was honest about what he saw in his tenure. Among them, the online component of former president Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Healthcare.gov. Though it wasn’t Cochran’s project, he saw the website’s lag times and routine failures in signing up millions of Americans for healthcare online as a “monumental disaster.” “It’s important to recognize there are failures, and we should not repeat these failures. I see giant IT projects failing all the time. It’s the same mistake, always: Somebody comes up with a great idea, and it gets bigger and bigger,” he told the crowd. Cochran took a few questions at the end of his talk, and I asked him if there were any ongoing IT projects he sees in the Canadian government that are repeating mistakes he saw during his tenure at the White House. “I can tell you one: Canada.ca.”

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Canada.ca is the name of website consolidation project initiated by the former Conservative government. The goal is to bring 1,500 government websites down to a single platform as a way to streamline access to government services for citizens. Project discussions began in 2013, and in 2015, Adobe and its partners were awarded a $1.54-million contract to provide a proprietary solution for the new content management system. Page migration has already commenced, but the project’s completion has been delayed by a full year, with the most recent

TOM COCHRAN, FORMER DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL PLATFORMS FOR THE WHITE HOUSE, SEES MANY COMMON IT MISTAKES BEING MADE ON CANADA.CA. PHOTO BY CRAIG LORD.

I don’t know if there’s a single example of a government IT project of that scale that is successful. — MIKE GIFFORD, OWNER OF OTTAWA WEB CONSULTANCY OPENCONCEPT

cost estimates ballooning to more than $9 million, according to government figures. A government spokesperson told the Ottawa Citizen last year that the project was always expected to exceed the initial contract value, but that costs remain within the “approved financial envelope,” the value of which remains unspecified. Healthcare.gov faced similar challenges. Cochran says the original price for the project stood at $93 million, but quickly rose to $292 million, and by the time the website was fully delivered, total costs were well over $1 billion. Last month, the Canadian government posted about its project on, you guessed it, Canada.ca. The post said that the new

site has received 590 million visits since the project’s launch, and that mobile usage has increased by 150 per cent since 2013. However, it’s unclear if these visits are being driven by the website renewal initiative. Cochran says that the Canada.ca project sounds well-intentioned, and there likely is room for some website consolidation, but that the scale of the project may ultimately doom it. Ottawa experts agree. “I don’t know if there’s a single example of a government IT project of that scale that is successful,” says Mike Gifford, owner of Ottawa web consultancy OpenConcept, who also attended Cochran’s talk. “I think it’s both unrealistic and not particularly useful.” The problem with having a single publishing system for the entire federal government is that departments often have different needs when it comes to publishing. Parks Canada and Services Canada interact differently with citizens, for example, and therefore have needs for distinct publishing tools and speeds. Bringing dozens of government department teams onto the same page, then, is a complicated, time-consuming and costly process. “I wouldn’t throw good money after bad money,” Cochran said when I asked how he’d fix the Canada.ca project. “That’s a hard, bitter pill to swallow. No one wants to say they messed up. But I think it’s better than continuing down the wrong road.”

deal of leverage to charge high licensing fees because it owns the platform. Adobe did not respond to requests for comment on this story before press time, but in a blog post on Adobe’s website, project executive Alexandra Noseworthy says the firm’s platform will provide the government with comprehensive oversight of its web properties. Additionally, Adobe’s solution provides built-in analytics to generate a better understanding of exactly how citizens are interacting with their government online. Smith says he was among the industry representatives who met with government officials before they released the request for proposals, and at that time he was given the impression that open-source solutions would be considered. But when the RFP was released, the government asked for a warranty to guarantee the platform’s security, which Smith says precluded any possible compliant open-source solution. “The government was looking for a technology that offered a warranty … In the world of open-source, especially with Drupal, the idea of warranting the software that’s being developed for free by 100,000 developers around the world is too big of a liability for any company to take on,” he says. As it stood, Smith says smaller companies were dwarfed by the expectations of the RFP and had little opportunity to put together a compliant bid. Ultimately, three bids were submitted, none of them based on open-source technology, and Adobe was determined to be the only compliant bidder.

OPENING UP TO OPEN-SOURCE

I spoke to Cochran after his talk had finished, and asked him what he felt the most important factor was in shifting an administration’s attitude to embrace technology and open-source solutions. “You need to have a leader or leaders that are supportive and believe in it. They don’t necessarily have to understand the intricacies of technology, but they do have to understand the positive impact that it will have on the business of government,” he said. The good news, then, is that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems quite open to open-source, going as far as to expressly include it in his ministers’ mandate letters. “Government and its information should be open by default,” reads Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy Foote’s letter. Gifford says Trudeau’s approach to open government is taken straight from the Obama administration. In his new role as the public sector vicePROCUREMENT PROBLEMS president at international web developer Concerns of scale aside, problems with Acquia, Cochran is making a point of visiting Canada.ca may have started with the Canada because he sees opportunities for procurement process itself. the kinds of digital transformation he was a Chris Smith, CEO of Ottawa-based part of in the United States. web development company Opin, Cochran says one of the major keys to attended Cochran’s talk as well. He says the success is in dividing government IT projects procurement proposal was not set up to into small, doable chunks and building on genuinely consider an open-source solution. those successes. Open-source web development tools, such Gifford says that this compartmentalized as the popular Drupal platform, are built, approach, combined with the adoption of maintained and consistently updated by a open-source technology, is the best way community of coders. to provide more opportunities for local One benefit of open-source is that companies. there’s no vendor lock-in: It’s easy for “It’d be much easier for small businesses the government to shift providers while in the Ottawa area to win bids using openretaining the core platform. Smith says in source software to work with government the current case, the government is locked departments,” he says. “It’s not too late. into the contract, and so Adobe has a great There’s lots of ways that change can happen.”


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ONTARIO’S HEALTHCARE SYSTEM IN DIRE NEED OF AN INNOVATION INJECTION Techopia takes a look at what’s

wrong – and the Ottawa innovators doing something about it

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2017

BY CRAIG LORD

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Bill Charnetski loves his job. For a little more than a year now, Charnetski has served as Ontario’s chief health innovation strategist. He’s been mandated to remove any barriers to advancement in the province’s healthcare system, largely by encouraging the adoption of technological solutions. He’ll tell you himself that his job is not an enviable one, as the system he’s tasked to fix is in serious need of repair. “If you wanted to go out and design a procurement model to block the introduction of innovation by small and medium enterprises, you’d be hardpressed to do better than the Ontario healthcare system,” Charnetski told the crowd at Ottawa’s inaugural Industry, Issues & Insights luncheon in February. “The healthcare system is not sustainable. It needs to improve. And there is no way it’s going to improve without investment.” And yet, Charnetski repeatedly told the gathered crowd of healthcare stakeholders and industry leaders that he does indeed love his job. For him, the prospect of innovation in healthcare is about more than striving to reduce waiting times and keep the population healthy: It’s the opportunity to fuel an economic engine for the entire province. The numbers don’t lie: The 2016 Ontario budget allocated $52 billion to the province’s healthcare system. When entrepreneurs hear a figure like that

related to any field, Charnetski says, their eyes should light up with dollar signs. Ontario needs to win in the knowledge sector, he said in his speech.

From hospital to classroom Algonquin College launched a new digital healthcare program this past September to give students, many of whom are working physicians and nurses, training in how to effectively use the latest healthcare innovations. “It aims at giving students a better understanding of digital technologies surrounding the healthcare system,” says program co-ordinator Haitham Tamim. On the other side of the spectrum, the oneyear certificate is also aimed at IT and business management professionals who are looking to bridge their skills into a career in healthcare. The program’s structure addresses a concern CHEO chief executive Alex Munter raised to Techopia: Medical professionals are under extreme demands in their day-to-day work, and their mandate does not allow for nearly enough time to develop the tech skills that are increasingly required to meet the needs of modern medicine. As such, classes in the digital healthcare program are often held on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, as well as online, to allow working professionals to fit the program into their schedules

Manufacturing will likely never return to its prominent place as the driver of Ontario’s economy, and the time is now for businesses, cities and countries alike to be investing in healthcare. The future of health innovation, Charnetski says, will be in the form of devices in three key verticals: digital, virtual and mobile health. Today’s healthcare needs are for technologies that will improve access to records, allow for at-home connectivity between physicians and patients, and provide new ways to visualize disease, ailments and injuries. Solutions to these problems, Charnetski says, are exportable and in demand worldwide. Knowing this, though, is not enough for health innovation to take hold in Ontario. An example of the missing piece can be found in HIP613, a program recently launched in Ottawa by CHEO, alongside sponsors IBM and Gatineau-based software firm Macadamian. The program connects engineers, coders and designers with CHEO’s clinicians to identify the biggest problems in healthcare. Hospital CEO Alex Munter says the key to healthcare innovation lies in these clinician-led solutions. “I think that’s the magic in the formula, as it were. It really is a partnership between those (who) have the technical expertise and those who are working with these problems on a day-to-day basis,” Munter told Techopia in an interview. Both Charnetski and Munter highlighted Clearwater Clinical as a prime example of local innovation. CHEO’s Dr. Matt Bromwich founded Clearwater and helped to develop ShoeBOX, a portable iPad audiometer. The device allows patients to perform hearing tests from home, without the need to clog up a hospital waiting room. On the other side of the app, a physician analyzes the test remotely and can instantly send feedback and updated diagnoses. Munter says technology like this improves patient experiences, reduces

Healthcare is an industry that still uses fax machines. We need to catch up and we need to meet the expectations of our patients and families. — ALEX MUNTER, CHEO CHIEF EXECUTIVE

stresses on the system and will help hospitals keep pace in a rapidly evolving field. “Healthcare is an industry that still uses fax machines. We need to catch up and we need to meet the expectations of our patients and families,” he says. While he stresses the importance of healthcare innovation to Ontario’s economy, Charnetski emphasizes that the ultimate goal for the sector is to help people. At the close of his speech, he told the audience about a dinner he had with a friend where he told her about the work his office was doing. She listened intently, and then asked the $52-billion question: “As a patient, in two years, what am I going to see that’s different?” Charnetski was struck. He took that quote back to his office, told his colleagues about it and posted it in large type above the photocopier. He told the crowd: “That’s what drives us. That’s why I love this job.”


LEO LAX’S HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR L-SPARK PORTFOLIO COMPANIES TECHOPIA.ca

THE INNOVATORS Techopia has identified four of the many individuals in the city working on unique healthcare solutions. We’ve profiled them below by asking them to reply to three key questions: Q1: How will your work change the way a patient receives healthcare?

Q2: What makes you Q3: What is the biggest passionate about innovating obstacle you face in making in healthcare? your vision into reality?

Get to know Ottawa’s healthcare innovators. > PAUL LEM CEO of Spartan Bioscience, developer of the portable DNA test Spartan Cube

Q1: Spartan has designed the world’s smallest DNA analyzer, the Spartan Cube, to bring the power of instant diagnosis to everyone. It’s so small, it can be held in the palm of your hand. Imagine suddenly having the power to perform a DNA test whenever and wherever you wanted. It would enable immediate treatment. You could identify which drugs are right for your genes, diagnose if you have an infectious disease, prevent cancer, safeguard your food and water, and keep your family healthy. That’s our vision – to bring DNA testing out of the lab and into every hospital, doctor’s office, pharmacy and, eventually, your home.

Q2: Before becoming an entrepreneur, I was a medical doctor. I saw so many injustices in the healthcare system, it infuriated me. I remember treating a patient who had advanced tuberculosis. Normally, a chest X-ray should look clear, but his looked like a snow storm. He was from up north and didn’t have access to doctors. By the time he reached us, his lungs were destroyed. It was really sad to think it could have been prevented if someone could invent a fast DNA test. It is because of patients like this we are developing the Spartan Cube. This type of testing technology could enable developing countries and remote towns to leapfrog hospital labs. We want to make diagnosis and healthcare accessible to everyone.

JANE WANG

co-founder of Turnstone Biologics, researcher with The Ottawa Hospital

Q1: We are developing novel

biotherapeutics for treating cancer patients. Our goal is to create treatments that are more effective and less toxic than conventional chemotherapeutics. This kind of therapy not only selectively attacks the tumour, but is also designed to stimulate the patient’s immune Q1: We are all about taking the proactive system to recognize and destroy their Q1:What we do results in higherapproach to care and ensuring that there is cancer. We are testing our ideas now in quality care by engaging patients with easy compliance and adherence to health cancer patients, and if our approach notifications, reminders or healthcare regimens by helping working professionals proves successful we expect that patients education personalized for them. fit health routines into their busy lives. We would have long-term responses with This helps prepare them for their do not treat patients, but help employers fewer side effects. appointment, to ask them how it went, keep their employees mentally, physically to see how they are progressing on the and emotionally healthy by working Q2: As a scientist I am intrigued by the recommended treatment, and to nudge mainly on stress-related issues, back pain complexity of the disease we call cancer. them towards better health. Our software and other chronic disease risk associated It has been extremely interesting to also provides a platform for feedback with sedentary lifestyles. have been working on this problem surveys to continuously improve over the last 30 years as the innovations patient experience. On the provider Q2: I’ve worked at hospitals and as a in research technology have allowed side, Cliniconex ensures our software project manager on global clinical trials, the scientific community to make optimizes clinic workflow wherever it so I saw how well-managed care routines unprecedented advancements in our is deployed. When a clinic is humming, can help change people’s health outcomes. understanding of how cancers develop providers are able to devote more time to However, I found all the effort to be quite and provided insights on how best to healthcare instead of administration. reactive as we often catch patients already develop new therapies. This new and on a decline. The issue really hit home expanding knowledge base makes it a Q2:The work we do helps people. I have when we caught my mom’s cancer in stage very exciting time to work in this field. experience in telecom, enterprise IT, three, and we lost her within six months. Aside from trying to solve the “cancer developer tools and software security, I became obsessed with bringing great problem” from an intellectual point cloud system management. Each of these adherence and compliance routines and of view, I am strongly motivated to try industries were complex, nuanced and technology to these problems. I believe and find new therapeutic approaches sizable. Healthcare is exactly like this, that in the next 10 years, there will be as cancer is a disease that affects all but what you do can affect people in a ubiquitous solutions such as Optimity that Canadians. I believe that we need positive and meaningful way: That is, the help establish your individualized health innovative new treatments as soon way they experience their healthcare. baseline and predictively cares for your as possible to help stop the suffering high-risk health issues. of patients affected by this disease in Q3: Expectations are low, but patients Canada and around the world. should feel justified in demanding Q3: We need to continuously work to better service and more timely service. improve the acceptance and adoption Q3: There is little doubt that more Patients need to fully grasp that they of a daily, proactive approach to people financial support for cancer research are at the centre rather than deferring who are currently healthy. Many busy is desperately needed to accelerate centricity to their provider or a healthcare professionals take their health for granted the discovery and development of institution. We also work in a poor until the symptoms persist for too long. novel cancer treatments. We know so culture of experimentation for quality I think to be useful for the masses, the much more about this disease than and productivity. There is a rich history priority should be about changing ever before, and so every dollar has a of innovation in treating disease, but why mindsets and creating great products major impact in trying to find cures for have administrators never lived a similar that decrease the effort needed to keep this disease. It is frustrating to see the innovation culture? mindful and well, by intelligently utilizing many bright young minds of the next Canada needs a commitment from artificial intelligence algorithms built on generation of scientists unable to fully our government to quality healthcare actuarial models and medical-grade data explore their ideas simply because of a that is expected to continuously improve from mobile and wearable technology. lack of funding. CEO of Cliniconex, provides software to improve patient engagement before, between and after visits to a physician

CEO of Optimity, a platform to help businesses optimize employee healthcare

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the length of time it takes to bring a medical device to market. It takes an average of three to seven years to bring a medical device from concept to market (according to medical researchers). Then once it’s developed, we have to get approvals and run clinical trials. It has taken Spartan more than 10 years of research and development to launch the Cube. That takes a lot of vision and a lot

ANTHONY MAR

DR. JOHN BELL

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Q3: Spartan’s biggest obstacle has been

of perseverance. People used to tell us we would never achieve our goal and seeing our vision finally come to life is amazing.

year after year. Whereas we have privacy commissioners for each province, we don’t have a single healthcare quality commissioner. In other countries, physicians’ reimbursement is tied to quality. Why isn’t ours?


OTTAWA ENTREPRENEUR BRINGS 3D PRINTING TO TECHCRUNCH STAGE TECHOPIA.ca Ottawa’s corporate cupid Leonard Gold, a recently hired lawyer at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l., wants more local firms to access U.S. financing

I

’ts a perennial problem facing Ottawa businesses: There are too few venture capitalists in Canada to support the rapid growth of the city’s most promising firms. A leading local law firm, however, has a solution. Earlier this year, Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l. hired veteran U.S. lawyer and foreign legal consultant Leonard Gold. “That’s always been my calling card – access to financing,” says Mr. Gold, who was previously a partner at Burns & Levinson LLP in the U.S. “I really am excited. We have these good Canadian companies and there’s great potential for them.” In a recent survey of Ottawa businesses, more than one-quarter of respondents named access to capital as the most important issue facing local firms over the coming five years. Robert Kinghan, the head of PerleyRobertson, Hill & McDougall’s business law group, says he’s seen the challenges firsthand. “Some businesses are having a hard time finding financing in this city and have to look elsewhere,” he says. Enter Mr. Gold. His specialties include connecting Canadian companies to venture capitalists in the U.S. Mr. Gold, who also previously served as managing director of Burns & Levinson Canada, says local companies looking for financing should think about their options south of the border. The market is roughly 10 times as large, and many venture capitalists and private equity

Rob Kinghan, Partner and Head of the Business Law Group with Leonard Gold, the firm’s new Foreign Legal Consultant.

“Investors are looking to Canada to find opportunities.” investors are experienced entrepreneurs who have founded and sold companies and are able to share their expertise. “It’s not only money, but it’s smart money,” Mr. Gold says. On the other side of the table, he says U.S. investors are increasingly interested in highquality foreign firms. “Good companies in the U.S. are overshopped and overvalued,” he says. “Investors are looking to Canada to find opportunities.”

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Leonard M. Gold 613.566.2810 lgold@perlaw.ca www.perlaw.ca

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Mr. Gold has previously been called a “corporate cupid” for his ability to match businesses with investors. He ensures prospective investors understand the companies they’re meeting in advance, in contrast to so-called “pitchfest” events where prospective financiers are sometimes learning about their prospects for the first time. Mr. Gold also connects clients with coaches in his professional network to review their presentations and help them perfect their pitch. “One of the difficulties (for entrepreneurs) is they spent too much time (talking about) how great a product is from a technology perspective,” Mr. Gold says. “The investor assumes the product works technically. They want to know about the market and ROI.” Mr. Gold, who has extensive experience in the practice of bankruptcy and insolvency in addition to his U.S.-Canada relations practice, says he’s in preliminary discussions about establishing a program he calls “The Pipeline” that involves recruiting Canadian companies – mostly from Ottawa – and scheduling meetings with investors in Boston. Mr. Kinghan says the addition of Mr. Gold to the Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall team comes at an ideal time. The law firm has a large securities practice that’s seen an uptick in activity over the last 12 months. “To get these companies to that level and then help them continue to expand, we need someone with that experience in the market,” he says. Mr. Gold says the U.S. investor community will look favourably on doing business with Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall. “Global law firms are expensive and you don’t get access to the real talent. Early stage and growing companies need expertise and a (law) firm that’s price sensitive,” he says.


MAYOR WATSON, SIR TERRY MATTHEWS LEADING TECH CRUSADE TO QUEEN’S PARK TECHOPIA.ca

REVIVING SALES SKILLS IN OTTAWA Computerized marketing techniques are promoted as fast, inexpensive and effective. But do they actually work? I hear it every day in Ottawa. “Our sales are slowing down.” “Google Ad Words are not bringing in new business like before.” “I receive more ‘Unsubscribe’ requests than new prospects.” The technology industry is increasingly showing symptoms of a plague that’s affected us all: Relying solely on social selling and email campaigns to generate sales. Forgotten is the personal contact, which many have been quick to label as too slow and inefficient, and frankly, dreaded. The results? Lost markets, declining sales and unrealized profits. Last month I met with Invest Ottawa and learned that more than 75 per cent of the high-tech incubator companies are planning to offer products and services that already exist in the marketplace. The big question is always the same: How will they differentiate themselves from the crowd and position their products for success?

eventually realized Google would only give so much. The company subsequently increased investments in outbound sales, emphasizing live conversations with potential customers. The sales team learned how to overcome sales objections through storytelling techniques and found new market opportunities with U.S. colleges and universities. Meanwhile, the company’s workforce ballooned from 20 employees in 2013 to more than 100, requiring two separate expansions at its 2255 Carling Ave. office. So, what can be learned from i-Sight’s experience?

that creates an emotion and desire for the product. This is even more important in an era when it’s so easy to research technical information about a product that educated customers may know more about a company’s offerings than the sales team themselves.

CONVERTING TRUST TO CASH As a director of sales, I used to receive on average more than 30 prospecting emails or LinkedIn connect requests a month. In contrast, over the course of six months I only received two phone calls.

Yes. Two. We ended up buying from both of these companies (one was the CRM system and another one was a dialing solution for the outbound team). Personal contact is what leads to sales. While marketing builds brands – which, in turn, builds trust – sales are done one-onone in the trenches. This is where that trust is converted to cash. Ed Bilat is the North American president of Beyond Consulting.

LIVE CONVERSATIONS ARE A MUST

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Live prospect engagement is hardly new. After all, for centuries direct contact was the only way of identifying a need or promoting a product. But there’s been a drastic switch in the last decade towards interaction-free, computerized marketing techniques. They’re promoted as fast, inexpensive and effective. But do they actually work? ENGAGING WITH CLIENTS Sure, it is easy to electronically send a Enter i-Sight. This Ottawa company makes message to thousands of prospects. But it’s customized software that compiles, stores even easier for those thousands to say “no” and analyzes data on all types of business or, more commonly, ignore it completely. misbehaviour, including violations of As i-Sight shows, successful companies federal privacy laws, bullying and fraud. realize that there’s no substitute for human The company originally offered generic interaction and no marketing automation case management software. It did not pay system to replace genuine, two-way off well, in large part because the market conversations. was already too crowded. These companies are the ones The solution was simple at the time: that enjoy the biggest successes and Engage directly with the clients and start sales breakthroughs. Communication, talking to the market. persuasion, listening, negotiation – all After initiating dialogue with many these skills can and must be learned, clients and prospects, i-Sight identified implemented and mastered in order to a unique need for customized software develop the corporate ability to stay in that did not force users into rigid, pretouch and immediately respond to clients’ configured solutions. changing underlying motives, desires and As a result, it created a distinctive fears. ecosystem that caters to the specific needs of a wide array of clients in the ADVANTAGES OF OUTBOUND SALES TEAMS investigation markets. Since then, the The biggest advantage of the outbound company has propelled itself into a sales team is its scalability. Once you global leader providing configurable case establish the call ratios and metrics, you’re management software for investigations. able to forecast the sales outcome. Because the company’s market Granted, live contact can be perceived analyses – based on direct communication as annoying, ill-timed and insistent. – brought such solid results, it was natural Indeed, it’s not uncommon to find sales to introduce the same approach to teams that lack the skills to break the ice, business development. build trust and develop a relationship. I-Sight’s initial marketing focused on Storytelling opens doors and influences pay-per-click advertising, but the firm decision-making by sharing a narrative


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TECHOPIA LIVE Every Monday, Techopia sets up a studio in the middle of Invest Ottawa’s incubator space at the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards. Then, we invite entrepreneurs and fascinating personalities to come by, sit in our comfy orange chairs and talk about the cool things they’re doing or the issues in tech they’re facing. Finally, we turn on the camera and stream it live, directly to your Facebook page. This is Techopia Live. Below, you’ll find a collection of insights we’ve heard during recent Techopia Live shows. If this sounds like a show you’d like to see, follow us on Facebook and tune in every Monday at 12:15 p.m. to be a part of the conversation!

GENM CEO MOE ABBAS AND PERLEY-ROBERTSON, HILL & MCDOUGALL IMMIGRATION LAWYER WARREN CREATES. PHOTO BY CRAIG LORD.

WHAT OTTAWA BUSINESSES SHOULD DO AMID TRUMP’S ENTRY BAN FIGHT SNOWED IN STUDIO FOUNDER JEAN-SYLVAIN SORMANY, CAPITAL GAMING EXPO OWNER JILLIAN MOOD, AND BREAKFALL FOUNDER JASON NUYENS. PHOTO BY CRAIG LORD.

BREAKING DOWN THE GROWTH IN OTTAWA’S GAMING SECTOR If the goal of Techopia Live is to shift the conversation and break long-held notions, our chat on Ottawa’s gaming sector checked every box. Ottawa lacks a thriving gaming sector? Wrong. Jillian Mood, new owner of the Capital Gaming Expo, shared her enthusiasm for the city’s independent gaming sector with the live Facebook audience. “We have such a strong indie community, it’s insane,” she said. Representing that cohort on the show were game developers Jason Nuyens and Jean-Sylvain Sormany, who took the chance to break down other stereotypes about the industry, such as the assertion that gaming is just “teenage boys in the basement” (women game too!) and the surprising role that strong social skills can play in building your career in the industry.

Warren Creates, an immigration lawyer at PerleyRobertson, Hill & McDougall, and GenM CEO Moe Abbas joined us the week after Donald Trump declared his entry ban as we tried to make sense of the chaos for concerned Ottawa companies. Creates broke down the current state of affairs, and gave his best advice to those unsure of travelling for business or continuing work with the United States. Abbas, an immigrant entrepreneur himself, opened up about his own fears of traveling south of the border given the political climate. Yet, ever the businessman, Abbas also encouraged the audience to pay attention and find the opportunities in the chaos. “The greatest opportunities for entrepreneurs are in times of conflict,” he said.

IVERSOFT SOLUTIONS CO-FOUNDER VICKI IVERSON. PHOTO BY CRAIG LORD.

VICKI IVERSON IS THE WOMAN AND THE CODE BEHIND OTTAWA’S IVERSOFT After Iversoft Solutions completed its first acquisition and set its sights on triple-digit revenue growth in 2017, we decided to bring in co-founder Vicki Iverson to find out how she has been building such a rapidlyexpanding company. In addition to her thoughts on how emerging virtual reality can impact the gaming industry and beyond, Iverson talked about how she realized her own goals in the field. As an advocate and role model for women in tech she says making her way in as a developer came down to persistence and focus. “I never really looked at the barriers. I’ve always just ignored them and continued on my way,” she told Techopia Live.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2017

HOW AUTONOMOUS DRIVING CAN FIX OTTAWA’S POTHOLES

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In the lead up to the Kanata North BIA’s summit on autonomous vehicles, the BIA’s executive director, Jenna Sudds, joined BlackBerry QNX’s Grant Courville and autonomous driving policy expert Barrie Kirk to talk about how the emerging technology can solve Ottawa’s pothole problem. Well, they talked about more than that. Kirk also explained about how Ottawa can extract value by investing in the $10-trillion industry. “For the city of Ottawa, there’s an opportunity to redesign the entire city. It’ll change infrastructure, it’ll change parking, it’ll change people’s lives,” he told the live audience. Courville, as part of the team trying to make autonomous driving technology into a reality, said he’s never been more excited by a technology, and discussed the many ways we could see it implemented on our city streets. Chief among his examples? The potential for massive reductions in accidents and fatalities through the use driver-assisted technology. CAVCOE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR BARRIE KIRK, KANATA NORTH BIA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JENNA SUDDS, AND BLACKBERRY QNX HEAD OF PRODUCT MANAGEMENT GRANT COURVILLE. PHOTO BY CRAIG LORD.


WHAT’S HAPPENING Stay up to date with TECHOPIA’s calendar of events at techopia.ca

MARCH EVENTS Some on-ice fun, an introduction to code, an award show rivalling the Oscars and multiple events recognizing women in entrepreneurship are on the docket this coming month. MAR. 1-2: THE 12TH ANNUAL INVEST OTTAWA CORPORATE HOCKEY CHALLENGE Invest Ottawa’s annual Corporate Hockey Challenge will provide Ottawa’s business community with a unique chance to get together for good times on and off the ice. Want a great opportunity to network with other firms, suppliers and partners? This two-day tournament offers the opportunity to do just that, while rewarding staff with a fun, teambuilding event!

MAR. 2: JOURNEY TO THE TOP: THE WHAT, WHY AND HOW OF SCALING Join Kirk Dando for an exclusive presentation on the “What, Why and How of Scaling”, targeted specifically to CEOs of Ottawa tech companies. Kirk will discuss the predictable three stages that every business goes through as it grows and the 12 warning signs that your high-growth company may be close to stalling. This talk is short on theory and full of real-world practical solutions and stories Kirk has gathered from helping thousands of growth-hungry leaders like you.

MAR. 4: HTML [500] OTTAWA

The Bootstrap Awards are back after a threeyear hiatus. Wesley Clover’s regular Tech Tuesday event provides the forum this time around with the award reception at Marshes Golf Club. Check Techopia.ca for a full list of winners.

MAR. 8: WOMEN IN BUSINESS CONFERENCE 2017 ‘From the Voices of Women,’ is a full-day conference of thoughtprovoking speakers and inspiring stories by women leaders who have made their mark in business and society. From the corporate boardroom and entrepreneurship to social enterprise, our distinguished speakers will inspire, educate and challenge you to invest, network and reach your goals.

MAR. 22: WOMEN’S DAY – BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY BUILDER’S BREAKFAST Ottawa Opportunities Network’s annual Women’s Day breakfast celebration brings together many of Ottawa’s diverse business professionals to meet, mix and mingle over a delicious breakfast! Get your chance to hear our wonderful speakers, network and start to build new connections!

OTTAWA’S 2017 BOOTSTRAP AWARDS WINNERS LACE UP FOR GALA Tickets are still available for a seat at the freshly rebooted awards reception

limited flow of venture capital in the city has meant most startups have had to tighten their laces to get their start. “What we want to do is celebrate those people who are struggling, working their tails off, self-financing and doing it the hard way,” Stein says. A full list of the winners can be found below, with the exception of the fastest growing startup award, which will be announced live by Mayor Jim Watson at the awards reception on March 7. Tickets are still available for the event! Register now through Wesley Clover’s Tech Tuesday online.

WINNERS OF THE 2017 BOOTSTRAP AWARDS: Green Award: Spectrafy Innovation Engineering & Technology Award: iBionics Best Mobile Application: award shared by Bluink & Punchtime Best Guerilla/Social Marketing Campaign: Grype Bootstrap Capital Award: Ottawa Media Group Community Impact Award: NuGroceryform Fastest Growing Startup: TBD

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The Bootstrap Awards are returning in 2017 after a threeyear hiatus with a new owner and a new sponsor. Winners, ranging from from a zero-waste grocery store to a new way to punch out at the end of the day, will be honoured at the awards reception held at Marshes Golf Club in March. The annual awards, previously put on by Bruce Firestone’s Exploriem incubator, are meant to celebrate the best of Ottawa’s self-financed companies. Shopify, You.i TV and Telepin Software are among local companies that received recognition at the event in its original iteration. When Firestone stepped down from Exploriem in 2013, he passed the mantle to the Ottawa Network, saying that the organization was free to take on the event if it wished. David Stein, vice-president of the Ottawa Network, says the organization is always looking for opportunities to connect individuals and companies in the tech sector. The Bootstrap Awards stood out as something left behind that still had value. “Why can’t we do this again?” Mr. Stein asked himself. He has since reached out to Wesley Clover to partner on the awards, and has connected with local organizations such as Smart & Biggar, TiE Ottawa, L-Spark and Lead to Win to spread the word and provide input on a rebooted version of the awards. Stein’s collaborative approach runs counter to what he has seen recently in Ottawa: Organizations that build up silos, closing themselves off from the wider entrepreneurial community.w “The Ottawa Network has always been about breaking down silos,” he says. “When we can co-operate and do things together, the ecosystem benefits.” Mr. Stein says that bootstrapping has been relevant to Ottawa startups ever since the collapse of Nortel. A

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2017

Ready to dive into the world of code? HTML150 brings together local organizations, startups and eager learners like you for a crash course in HTML & CSS. Join Lighthouse Labs and 149 of your new best friends and start your coding journey today.

MAR. 7: THE OTTAWA BOOTSTRAP AWARDS 2017


IVERSOFT EXPERIMENTING IN NEW TECH TO FUEL GROWTH PLANS TECHOPIA.ca Université d’Ottawa

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University of Ottawa

Collaborate with CEED The Centre for Entrepreneurship and Engineering Design (CEED) focuses on improving design, entrepreneurship education and the student experience at the uOttawa Faculty of Engineering.

Collaborate with our students and Faculty with CEED through various options:

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2017

INTERNSHIPS: whether it is hiring coop students, or interns, our students can be of great value to your organization and could even become your future employees.

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CLIENT-BASED DESIGN PROJECTS: we are always looking for new and interesting design projects for our students in which they are challenged to find solutions to industry and community problems. Want to discover first hand the ingenuity and creativity of our students? Come join us for DESIGN DAY, March 29th. Students will showcase their design projects: wearable technologies, robotics, hydroponics, accessible designs, and much more. You have an idea for a collaboration, a project or would need our students as interns in your organization; connect with us now!

engineering.uOttawa.ca/NSERC


SILICON VALLEY (VERY) EARLY STAGE ACCELERATOR COMES TO OTTAWA TECHOPIA.ca

THE CIRCUIT BOARDS USED TO RUN SENSTAR’S TECH ARE MANUFACTURED A FEW KILOMETRES AWAY IN CARLETON PLACE.

“OUR BURIED CABLE, THAT’S WHERE OUR IP LIES. WE MAKE EVERY FOOT OF THE BURIED CABLE THAT GOES OUT THE DOOR,” SAYS JEREMY WEESE.

ALL VARIETIES OF SENSTAR’S FENCING AND SENSOR EQUIPMENT RUN THROUGH AND AROUND THE 800-METRE PERIMETER OF THE 10-ACRE TESTING SITE.

MADE IN OTTAWA: SENSTAR’S SECURITY PLAYGROUND The largest private test facility for sensor and security

equipment is right here in the National Capital Region. they’re always coming up with crazy things to try to test this,” says Jeremy Weese, senior vice-president and chief operating officer Just a short trip down Carp Road will take at Senstar. you to the headquarters of Senstar, the 35The primary advantage of having a year provider of perimeter security systems testing site in Ottawa is, counter-intuitively, for jails and prisons worldwide. Travel a the annoying weather. While designing little further, and you’ll find yourself on equipment that can function in all climates the grounds of the world’s largest private is certainly more complicated, Senstar’s test facility of its kind, a 10-acre site where advantage is being based in a region that Senstar’s team tests each of its fences, hits nearly every extreme, from harsh cold sensors, cables and the software that makes and winter blizzards to sweltering heat in it all run. the summer. The company’s competitors, In addition to hwosting the occasional which Weese says are based in Arizona barbecue, the site offers a chance for staff and the south of France, don’t have the to get out of the lab and into the outdoors, same access these environments, and can’t where the equipment is put to use and has confidently tell clients their tech will work its limits tested. in a blizzard. Senstar, on the other hand, Tests can range from monitoring can. response to wind and weather to tossing All of Senstar’s products are balls through the wiring to see what will manufactured in-house or nearby. The set it off. For all it’s practical use, the site buried cable tech that gave Senstar its start is essentially a playground for Senstar’s are wound in its production facilities, and engineers. even the circuit boards that power the “That’s part of the fun of having this site. sensors are made by a company in Carleton All of the guys in the development group, Place. they’re hands-on, not desk engineers, they Weese says it doesn’t make sense for want to get out, they want to do things. So Senstar to outsource the production

THESE SENSORS, COMMON TO NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS, CAN DETECT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WALL OF STEAM COMING OFF A REACTOR AND THE THREAT OF AN INTRUDER STEPPING BETWEEN THE WIRES.

SENSTAR’S OMNITRAX IS PURPOSELY DESIGNED TO BE A BAD COAXIAL CABLE. IT RELEASES SOME OF THE TRAVELLING ENERGY SO THAT A CORRESPONDING CABLE CAN DETECT THE LEAK – AS WELL AS ANY DISTURBANCES ABOVE GROUND.

BY CRAIG LORD ALL PHOTOS BY MARK HOLLERON

is an obvious one: The more Senstar manufacturers in the Ottawa area, the more work there is to go around for local firms. “The whole goal is to keep Canadians employed,” he says.

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overseas. If there’s an issue anywhere in the manufacturing process, he can swing by the facility on his way into work and fix it. That’s not easy to do when the factory is in China. The second benefit of local production

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2017

JEREMY WEESE, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER AT SENSTAR, HAS BEEN WITH THE COMPANY SINCE 1999. SENSTAR ALSO DEVELOPS THE SOFTWARE TO DISPLAY THE SECURITY EQUIPMENT’S INTERFACE. THIS SCREEN SHOWS, WITHIN A METRE, WHERE A DISTURBANCE OCCURS ON THE FENCELINE.


OTTAWA’S HEALTHCARE RS INNOVATOT NEED S TO BE DONE IN ONTARIO’S

G IT EXPLORING WHA WHO IN THE CAPITAL IS DOIN HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, AND

CONNECTING TECH

IN OTTAWA

VOL. 1, ISSUE 8

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2017

WHO ARE OTTAWA’S HEALTHCARE INNOVATORS? PAGES 4-5

IS CANADA.CA DOOMED?a’s digital

The man behind Obam Page 2 transformation weighs in

OTTAWA’S HEALTHCARE INNOVATORS EXPLORING WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE IN ONTARIO’S HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, AND WHO IN THE CAPITAL IS DOING IT

SELLING OUT

Ed Bilat talks about what’s missing in Ottawa sales skills Page 7

SENSTAR’S GROUND

PLAY private Inside the world’s largest 11 security test facility Page

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Techopia February 27 2017  

TECHOPIA aggregates, shares and creates noteworthy content about the technology and startup community in Canada's national capital region.

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