Cisco Systems Inc., a manufacturer of networking equipment, today announced that a global innovation ‘Internet of Everything’ centre will be located in Toronto’s so-called ‘south core,’ at WaterPark Place. The 15,000-square foot innovation centre will open in April 2015 and represents an investment of $100M over a decade (2013 to 2022).
As a result of this announcement, Toronto now ranks second behind Silicon Valley as a high-tech hub and incubator in North America. Toronto just bumped Texas from second to third spot in the high-tech rankings.
Toronto is the only North American location for Cisco’s innovation centres and the fourth such centre globally. The other two are located in Songdo, South Korea (which is now under construction) and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A third centre will be located in Germany, but the city has not yet been finalized.
“Today, less than 1% of things are connected to the internet. We are going to work on the other 99%,” said Cisco Canada president Nitin Kawale.
The Toronto hub for thought leadership and experimentation will bring together start-ups, technology and services partners, academia and customers to rethink and transform the status quo, while making IT relevant to decision makers and business leaders, the company’s news release stated.
The fact that Toronto was picked by Cisco is “a remarkable achievement” said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister for Economic Development, Trade and Employment. Minister Hoskins called Toronto’s blend of education, jobs, R&D, and investment a “virtuous circle.”
At the podium, Toronto deputy mayor Norm Kelly talked about the ‘three amigos’: ideas, people, and money.
“In the future, competition will be more between urban regions and less about countries,” said Kelly.
Kelly talked about Toronto’s diverse and well-educated workforce, where about one in three people has a bachelor’s degree. He also talked about Toronto’s attitude and new ways of doing things.
“Can you see me dancing?” said Toronto councillor Michael Thompson.
“The focus of the innovation centre will be on design and creativity. That’s how we will create wealth and prosperity for Toronto and Canadians–it’s Richard Florida’s Creative Class,” said Paul Zed, chairman of the President’s Advisory Board, Cisco Canada.
Toronto is also the beneficiary of high-tech companies in both Toronto and Ottawa that have gone bust. Well, the companies have gone bust, but the talent pool remains (as does the mortgage and the kids’ tuition fees): Nortel, JDS Uniphase, Corel, Mitel, Cognos, Bell Northern Research, and Digital Equipment among them. And BlackBerry, headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario, continues to bleed talent as the smartphone maker tries to reclaim marketshare.
The Toronto innovation centre will help companies and government agencies capitalize on the opportunities presented by the ‘Internet of Everything’ – an opportunity estimated to be worth $19 trillion over the next decade, and including approximately $500 billion in Canada.
On December 13, 2013, Cisco announced a 10-year deal with the potential to grow its Ontario workforce by up to 5,000 by 2024, reflecting a potential total investment of up to $4 billion–the largest in investment in Ontario’s (and Canada’s) tech sector.
As many pundits have observed, Canada does not have an innovation gap. But it does have a commercialization gap. Cisco aside, Canada needs more high-tech investment: “show us da money.”