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Hamilton Economic Development

Amazon, Nokia invest in Hamilton incubator focused on autonomous vehicle research

Money and in-kind services will go to new autonomous vehicle and ‘smart city’ incubator headed by Innovation Factory.

Industry heavyweights Amazon and Nokia are offering millions of dollars to help develop an autonomous vehicle and “smart city” lab at McMaster Innovation Park.

The private investment of cash and in-kind services, worth $4.3 million over five years, comes just weeks after the province tapped Hamilton’s Innovation Factory and its partners as one of six “regional technology development sites” across Ontario. Those sites will share $80 million for autonomous vehicle research and related transportation infrastructure.

The MIP-based tech and innovation incubator expects to focus on how autonomous vehicles will affect multimodal transportation and the design of “smart cities,” said executive director David Carter.

“We’re seeing some pretty significant investment in this effort, so we’re pretty excited,” said Carter. “We’re basically going to be able to build and experiment with a private smart city environment … like city infrastructure in a box.”

The companies announced their support during an industry event Tuesday in Toronto, Carter said. The Spectator was unable to immediately reach company spokespeople for comment.

Carter said Amazon Web Services announced $1-million worth of “product credits” for cloud-based, in-kind services. Basically, that will allow startup companies and entrepreneurs to experiment using Amazon-based software and tools at no cost, or access expertise from company engineers.

He said Nokia’s $3.3-million commitment will help create a private 5G cellular network for the innovation hub as well as a lab featuring real-world infrastructure.

Carter used the idea of “smart” street lights with artificial intelligence aimed at monitoring traffic and preventing accidents as a theoretical example of what might end up in such a lab.

“Obviously, we can’t go to the City of Hamilton and ask to play with their street lights,” he said. “This (lab) will allow us to experiment with what a modern city environment might look like.”

Carter said he cannot yet reveal Hamilton’s share of the $80 million on offer from the provincially funded Ontario Centres of Excellence.

But Innovation Factory is partnering as a regional tech development site with the city, Mohawk College and McMaster University.

Three McMaster University applied researchers will be involved with the autonomous vehicle lab, variously focusing on software development, evolving transportation systems and powertrains, said Nick Markettos, interim CEO for the McMaster Innovation Park.

The regional tech site will operate out of the MIP atrium on Longwood Road as well as the nearby McMaster Automotive Resource Centre. Markettos said he expected Innovation Factory to expand within the existing footprint of the park.

Article courtesy of Matthew Van Dongen, The Hamilton Spectator

City conducting annual business employment survey

City of Hamilton summer students are hitting the streets once again with the annual employment business survey.

Survey results help inform how the municipality can best support local business by planning for future facilities, initiatives and planning issues across the city.

The city conducts the survey every year to look for business growth, trends and changes.

The survey data helps the city monitor the extent, nature and location of employment and land use and changing economic conditions, as well as track the effectiveness of local employment initiatives.

Having current information allows the city to address immediate and long-term planning development and issues.

The survey can also be completed online at hamilton.ca/employmentsurvey.

For more information, call 905-546-2424 ext. 1292.

Hamilton, Mac & law firm Gowling are helping startups make their way in the world

A unique partnership between McMaster University, the city of Hamilton, and an international law firm is aiming to help “start ups” in the city get off the ground and profit.

There are some really cool projects at the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre. Joel Roeleveld is a research engineer with McMaster who says the the partnership could help a lot of local ideas.

“New motors and motor technology we hopefully think will revolutionize high-efficiency and robust motors.”

All used in the creation of hybrid race cars that were built at MARC.

“Those cars are student build cars, 90% of the components are hand built by the students.”

“The one thing that the university has is a lot of great ideas on the we can bring it to a certain stage,” says Gay Yuyitung, and industry liason for McMaster University, “but takes a village to create successful companies.”

That’s where the law firm “Gowling” comes in.

“What we’re trying to do is facilitate connections between those businesses so that they might become aware of McMaster and Hamilton and it’s economy, become it’s customers, suppliers, lenders, with a view to helping this area along.” says Louis Frapporti, managing partner at Glowing WLG’s Hamilton office.

The partnership is in the early stages but already engineers at McMaster can imagine the financial benefits. The end goal of the partnership is to launch new technology from Hamilton, attract business here, and even bring top notch engineers to the city and university.

Article courtesy of CHCH

ICF judge lauds Hamilton’s collaboration

Robert Bell toured the city to assess whether it is the most “intelligent” in the world.

A judge who toured Hamilton to determine whether it is the most “intelligent” community in the world said the city is an “astounding” place and its citizens recognize that.

“There’s a real pride here,” said Robert Bell, co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum, a U.S.-based think tank founded 15 years ago that studies and promotes the world’s best cities and how those models can be reproduced elsewhere.

“The number of people I’ve talked to who’ve said, ‘I’m a lifelong Hamiltonian, and boy this is just the greatest place on the planet.'”

“That’s what I expect to hear in an ‘Intelligent Community,'” he added.

Bell spent two-and-a-half days this week touring the city, which made ICF’s top-seven list last fall after first making the Smart 21 list the year prior.

He made several stops, including at Hamilton’s Central Library, McMaster University and Mohawk College.

Bell, who called the library “very impressive of its kind”, noted it is “the nerve centre for collaboration” when it comes to organizations working with at-risk youth, newcomers and seniors by introducing them to technology, opportunity and education.

“They have successfully redefined themselves not as a place with books but as a place that’s about knowledge,” he said.

As for McMaster and Mohawk, he noted the connection between the university and college is “world class.”

“The deep collaboration between those two institutions happens almost nowhere,” Bell added.

Rob McCann, president and founder of Clearcable — one of the founding private sector members of ICF Canada — stressed the competition is not about technology but how these advancements can make things better for citizens.

Being in the running for “Most Intelligent Community” isn’t just about trying to achieve the designation, it’s about the steps the community takes to try and get there, he added.

“The journey is discovering what you have in your community and then promoting that to everybody else.”

Now that Bell has finished his tour, he will write a report about his experience that will be passed on to an international jury. From there, they will rank the seven communities, and ICF’s “Intelligent Community of the Year” will be revealed in June in London, England.

Some of the factors the judges consider is broadband infrastructure, a knowledge workforce, digital equality, sustainability and advocacy.

In addition to Hamilton, the other contenders in the top seven include Chiayi City, Taiwan; Espoo, Finland; Ipswich, Australia; Tainan City, Taiwan; Taoyuan, Taiwan; and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The competition is tough, said Bell, but after visiting Hamilton, he believes it is an “incredibly impressive place.”

“I don’t know many other cities of a half million people … who are in your class,” he said.

Article courtesy of Natalie Paddon, The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton deemed among top 7 ‘Intelligent communities in the world’

Take a bow, Hamilton.

According to the Intelligent Communities Forum — a U.S.-based think tank that focuses on digital economic development — our city is more “intelligent” than it used to be. Hamilton has been named one of the top seven “Intelligent Communities in The World.”

That compares to the city being ranked 21st in the year 2016-2017.

“Intelligent communities are those which have — whether through crisis or foresight — come to understand the enormous challenges of the broadband economy, and have taken conscious steps to create an economy capable of prospering in it,” the forum says on its website.

“They are not necessarily big cities or famous technology hubs. They are located in developing nations as well as industrialized ones, suburbs as well as cities, the hinterland as well as the coast.”

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger says, “What it really means is that we are transforming our economy into a digital economy and our organizations into digital organizations.”

In June, the forum will do a second round of analysis — that includes site visits and voting by an international jury — to determine this year’s Intelligent Community of the Year.

Eisenberger says coming out on top would be a great feather in the city’s cap.

He noted Eindhoven in the Netherlands — that was named the world’s most intelligent community of the year in 2011 — has used the honour as leverage to greatly enhance its economic development.

“We’d like to achieve the same and use that as an economic development tool to attract more positive development and digital capacity and more collaboration and partnerships,” said Eisenberger.

The forum cited Eisenberger’s efforts in forming a “Blue Ribbon Task Force on Intelligent Communities” in late 2016 and the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Digital Hamilton Project as reasons for including the city in the top seven.

“Hamilton’s recognition among the top seven Intelligent Communities is a testament to the impressive collaboration efforts over the last year between the chamber, the City of Hamilton and key stakeholders on the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Intelligent Communities,” said Keanin Loomis, president and CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. “An award of this stature will put us on the national and global spotlight, leading to a greater influx of talent and investment into our community.”

The other cities in the top seven include Winnipeg, Man.; Chiayi City, Taiwan; Tainan City; Taiwan; Taoyuan, Taiwan; Espoo, Finland and Ipswich, Australia.

Article courtesy of Mark McNeil, The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton’s airport is the fastest growing in Canada

With a jump in passenger traffic of 80 per cent last year over 2016, John C. Munro Hamilton International has become the country’s fastest growing airport.

It handled 599,146 passengers in 2017, up from 333,368 in 2016.

Cathie Puckering, the airport’s acting president and CEO, said she expects continued growth in coming years, thanks to new services for 2018.

John C. Munro Hamilton International also continues to be the country’s largest overnight express cargo airport. In 2017, its cargo volume rose 13 per cent as it asserted itself as a strategic gateway for facilitating goods movement from coast to coast and across the globe.

“This is an exciting time for Hamilton International as more passengers discover the ease and convenience of travelling from Hamilton,” Puckering said in a news release. ” The passengers are originating from Hamilton and surrounding areas including Toronto and beyond thanks to the wide variety of destinations being served.

“Low-cost carriers have opened leisure air travel to millennials and young families which can be seen in our airport terminal daily.”

The airport invested almost $5 million to improve and upgrade facilities in 2017, including projects such as a new covered and heated international walkway, improved and convenient vehicle parking pay stations, rehabilitation of the roadways and runways and renovations to the duty-free location.

Article courtesy of The Hamilton Spectator.

Don’t look now Toronto, but Hamilton just topped $1 billion in new construction in record time

Steeltown is booming as the affordable alternative to Toronto across the real estate spectrum.

Hamilton said Tuesday it reached $1 billion worth of construction in 2017, at the fastest pace in its history, as Steeltown continues to prove itself as an affordable alternative to Toronto across the real estate spectrum.

Hamilton says it hit $1,003,737,444 on Sept. 29 based on 6,606 building projects in the residential, institutional, commercial and industrial sectors. It was the seventh and sixth consecutive time over the past eight years the city has hit the billion dollar mark.

“This record-setting pace of development is further evidence of the continued boom that Hamilton is experiencing,” said Jason Thorne, general manager of planning and economic development with the City of Hamilton.

The $1 billion of activity through nine months of 2017 compares with $797,117,186 in 2016 for the same period of time and $844,597,780 in 2015.

Hamilton’s housing has been booming as people priced out of Toronto continue to look for affordable alternatives. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has singled out Hamilton as one of five markets with strong evidence of overall problematic conditions.

The city has been impacted by Ontario’s 16-point plan to create affordable housing, including a 15 per cent tax non-resident speculation in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, an area that is home to nine million people and includes Hamilton.

The Canadian Real Estate Board reported in September that the average sale price of a home sold in the Hamilton-Burlington area was $580,195 over the first eight months of year, a 20 per cent increase over the same period a year earlier. By comparison, the average Toronto sale price was $846,379 over that same eight-month period, a 16 per cent increase from a year ago.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said that as of the end of August, 2017, Hamilton has had 1,852 new construction starts which is down from 1,926 a year earlier. There were 1,669 completions over the first eight months, which is up from 1,233 a year earlier. The average single detached home price that has been absorbed into the market climbed to $706,735 from $553,582.

City officials say the record level of construction is beyond just the housing sector and crosses into commercial activity.

“What stands out in 2017 is a positive trend with regards to the industrial and commercial sectors. For example, Hamilton is seeing an over 200 per cent increase in industrial construction value growth compared to the three-year average. This is a significant move in the right direction towards more of the overall city budget coming from the non-residential taxpayer,” said Glen Norton, director of economic development with the City of Hamilton.

Article courtesy of Garry Marr, Financial Post

City sells its technology centre to tenant firm

The city-owned Hamilton Technology Centre (HTC) has been sold to a private company called Clearcable, one of the centre’s tenants.

City officials confirmed the $3.25 million sale on Wednesday, calling it a win-win business transaction for both the city and Clearcable, a company that builds broadband for smaller providers of internet and telecommunications services.

“We had an opportunity to sell it and it was a strategic sale,” said John Hertel, the city’s revenue generation director. “We’re selling it to someone who would continue to operate it as a technology incubator.”

The business incubation centre on Innovation Drive is part of the Flamborough Business Park at Highways 5 and 6. It was funded and operated by the city’s economic development division.

HTC was established by the local municipal government in 1993 as a small business incubator, but the age of the 40,000-square-foot building meant it needed “quite a bit of capital expenditure” to maintain, Hertel said.

City council declared the property surplus in February.

Clearcable president and founder Rob McCann said the sale was completed on Aug. 31.

“This acquisition will help us realize our vision of a private technology innovation centre,” he said.

The company will be renovating, upgrading and doing “leasehold-type improvements” to the building as well as putting in a data centre, McCann said, adding the process will take about five years.

The HTC currently has 16 tenants, including Clearcable, he said.

Among Clearcable’s objectives in owning the building is a revitalization of the HTC’s incubator function by providing investment and leadership — and to connect with other community initiatives such as the McMaster Innovation Park, Innovation Factory and Hamilton Hive.

Clearcable has been in operation since 2004 and a tenant at HTC since April 2016.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger noted the company will adopt the original vision of HTC and “continue to foster the development of emerging technology companies such as theirs.”

Article courtesy of Carmela Fragomeni, The Hamilton Spectator

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