Ontario’s Waterloo Region boasts the densest collection of tech start-ups outside of Silicon Valley. From BlackBerry to crowdsourcing platforms, robotics and self-help apps, this growing area offers an expanding world of technology that’s allowed for a mass influx of new initiatives.
Founded by Kurtis McBride of Miovision, a company that builds hardware and software to improve traffic flows through cities, and Frank Voisin of real estate investment company Voisin Capital, Catalyst137 is the world’s largest IoT (Internet of Things) manufacturing space. Located in Kitchener, the 475,000 sq. ft. structure is stoking the fire of innovation by creating an area for makers to come together and evolve their ideas. By providing them with funding, consulting, and engineering services, McBride and Voison hope the warehouse will serve to expand IoT through new software and devices.
“Catalyst137’s location and scale give it the ability to create a thriving hardware technology ecosystem composed of a mix of companies and service providers,” says Voisin. “We feel Catalyst137 will become a single point of contact for the hardware technology ecosystem, help accelerate time to market and increase the number of successful hardware technology companies in the Waterloo Region.”
One of the many cool and unique things about Catalyst137 is that it features a hackable streetscape allowing smart car and smart city start-ups much needed space to test the technology they are working on.
“As you can imagine, municipalities are resistant to allowing key components of their infrastructure to be allowed for testing purposes,” says Voisin. “By building the components of a streetscape within the low-risk environment of our parking lot, we can provide start-ups with a real-world test facility and help them speed up their product development.”
Currently, the building is focused on leasing to tenants who can contribute to the start-up ecosystem. “One of our earliest tenants was SigmaPoint, a contract manufacturer who will help start-ups with prototyping and provide advice to help accelerate their product development and time to market,” says Voisin. “We’ve also signed an intellectual property law firm, an industrial design firm, a marketing agency and a start-up incubator and accelerator.”
Voisin and McBride are hopeful that by bringing together innovative minds, Canada will become a leader in developing emerging IoT devices and technology. “In the next 10 years, every traditional hardware device and product will be connected and enabled by software,” says McBride. “Canada will capture its share of this revolution only if it focuses on it. With Catalyst137 we’re clustering resources, talent, capital and government support under one roof in an effort to put Canada on the map in the IoT landscape. The Waterloo Region in particular is uniquely positioned, given its embedded systems and radio frequency engineering talent that was brought into town by the likes of Blackberry.”
Due to the amount and nature of the data that IoT collects, the technology presents significant cyber security risks, a reality that Voisin and McBride take seriously. “Security is paramount in IoT devices and applications because for obvious reasons we don’t want to see devices that are connected into the physical world controlling key pieces of public/private infrastructure,” says McBride. “In lots of examples, IoT companies design security into their devices from the ground up.”
One thing’s certain: the future looks bright, and is definitely going to be a lot more connected.
Want to learn more about Catalyst137? Check out its website here.