Wavefront to Open National Centre of Excellence for Wireless Commercialization

Dec. 6, 2010, VANCOUVER, B.C - Wavefront, the commercialization centre accelerating the growth of Canada's wireless and new media development companies, will launch a new national Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) for wireless technologies the Government of Canada announced today. Beginning in 2011 and over the next five years, the new Wavefront Wireless Commercialization Centre (WWCC) will receive $11.6 million in federal funding through the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Program in addition to $11 million in cash and in-kind support that Wavefront's partners in industry, academia and government have pledged to date.

The WWCC will have a national focus, driving the growth of Canadian wireless companies, enhancing their global competitiveness and productivity, and creating high value technology and jobs.

The wireless industry contributes $17 billion in value to the Canadian economy and employs 274,500 people. It also directly touches the lives of nearly all Canadians through the pervasive adoption of wireless technologies not just for personal communications but also for those in health care, energy, education, retail, government and other sectors of the economy. Globally, the industry is rapidly expanding, faster than any previous wave of technology innovation, which means tremendous opportunities for Canadian technology entrepreneurs who can successfully build solutions for these rapidly expanding markets. By focusing on these international and export opportunities while products are early in their development, the WWCC will help Canadian companies be better positioned for success.

"Wireless technologies are a critical element in the development of the Canadian government's digital economy strategy," said Bernard Lord, President and CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA). "Wavefront's leadership as a Centre of Excellence will definitely provide our outstanding wireless innovators with the support and resources required to further their talents and provide Canada, and indeed the world, with cutting-edge technology."

Industry partners include Sierra Wireless, Ericsson, Nokia, Orange and others who have committed funds and resources to the WWCC. In addition, 27 leading Canadian universities from coast to coast will be partnering with the WWCC.

"While UBC has achieved considerable success in the past, we - and our sister universities - recognize that taking wireless innovation and commercialization to the next level will require effective management of myriad complex relationships across a complex wireless ecosystem," said Prof. Stephen Toope, President of the University of British Columbia. "UBC believes that the WWCC has the capacity to move technology from Canada's universities to its industry."

Wavefront was established in 2007 and after studying other global wireless clusters and adopting best-of-breed commercialization services, launched its Vancouver-based facility in August 2009. Wavefront has already proven its model for accelerated commercialization through its assistance to more than 200 companies, developing relationships with 20 partners globally, and assisting 21 early-stage wireless companies in its incubation program. In order to expand its successful commercialization model to benefit all of Canada's wireless research and technology clusters, Wavefront decided to champion the WWCC concept. The new WWCC will deliver value immediately to Canada's small and mid-sized wireless enterprises and academic universities seeking to commercialize new wireless technology.

The WWCC will offer global market linkages, cost-effective testing and validation services, business and technical training, and advisory services from industry experts. This combination of services will help Canadian innovators overcome major go-to-market hurdles. Although the WWCC will continue to support all aspects of the wireless industry, the centre will focus on the following three sub-sectors:

  • Machine to Machine (M2M) Technologies - By 2020, there will be 50 billion M2M connected devices worldwide according to Ericsson which represents a significant opportunity for Canada. M2M technologies cross many sectors including utilities, transportation, health, manufacturing, etc. The WWCC will be launching a M2M Development Lab/Market Development Program in partnership with M2M industry leader Sierra Wireless, allowing Canadian universities, emerging start-ups, and solution providers to rapidly prototype and commercialize new ideas.

    "Sierra Wireless is committed to helping the WWCC build world-class commercialization capabilities in M2M technologies," said Jason Cohenour, president and CEO of Sierra Wireless. "Through our support of the WWCC, we look forward to advancing Canada's position in this fast-growing market through new sophisticated wireless devices, value-add hardware, advanced applications and complex systems integration."

  • Next Generation Networks (NGN) - Currently, Wavefront provides access to Ericsson's carrier-grade 3G test network and team of more than 2,000 network engineers. As wireless network technologies evolve beyond 3G, the WWCC will provide the support and resources needed to keep the Canadian wireless industry at the forefront of NGN technologies by creating a NGN lab. The lab will provide Canada's wireless SMEs national access to the Ericsson's next generation network test facilities in Montreal.

    "Ericsson is pleased to be able to support the WWCC and provide Canada's SMEs and academic researchers with unprecedented access to our Montreal test facility making 3G and next-generation network testing more accessible to Canadian companies," said Mark Henderson, President, Ericsson Canada.

  • Mobile Software Applications - Mobile Software Applications (Apps) have become engrained in mainstream society. These applications range from consumer entertainment to productivity tools that empower businesses and individuals. The WWCC will provide a competitive edge to Canadian wireless software developers by delivering a suite of services designed to improve the quality and usability of their software as well as build the business strategy critical for successful market entry.

"We are creating a national commercialization hub to support, retain and grow Canada's share of the nearly $1 trillion global wireless industry. We're pleased that the Government of Canada has prioritized wireless technologies as part of its digital economy strategy. The establishment of the WWCC will help ensure that Canadian companies and engineering talent continue to prosper and be at the forefront of this exciting global industry," said Wavefront President, James Maynard.

The WWCC will act as a unifying point of contact between international associations, multinational companies, Canadian academic institutions and Canada's wireless companies, acting as a catalyst and creating the market linkages required to foster greater return on academic research investments, accelerate Canadian wireless commercialization and attract international investment.

About Wavefront

Wavefront is a commercialization centre accelerating the growth of Canadian wireless and new media member companies. Wavefront improves speed-to-market and delivery of mobile applications and devices by providing emerging companies with a suite of WaveGuideTM training, mobile industry advisory, incubation and testing services that facilitate market linkages and commercial engagement with the mobile ecosystem and enterprise companies around the world.