Hub350 x L-SPARK Living Lab Accelerator Showcases Kanata North as Launch Pad for Innovation
On November 14, 2023, the second cohort of the Living Lab Accelerator presented their accomplishments as part of the Hub350 Annual Partner Summit. This marked the culmination of four months of planning, testing and deployments of various projects and innovations in conjunction with partners in Kanata North.
The Kanata North Business Association and Hub350 partnered with L-SPARK to create and pilot the Living Lab Accelerator in 2022 to accelerate customer adoption and real-world deployment of 5G and next-generation technology solutions in the Kanata North Tech Park.
This year, the program was expanded and drew applicants from across Canada as well as startups right here in Kanata. Since a key objective of the Accelerator is for startups to deploy their innovations in Kanata North, as part of the recruitment process L-SPARK and Hub350 held a pitch event in May where applicants could present their solutions to potential customers in the Tech Park. The Pitch Day welcomed a full house of technology executives and enthusiasts to Hub350 as the 11 pitching companies took the stage. Applications included AI, smart buildings, environmental sustainability, enterprise and IT solutions, as well as autonomous driving technology.
In the end, 5 companies were selected to participate in the second cohort, each having engaged with partners in Kanata North to pilot or collaborate on their solutions.
The 2023 Cohort
Since their selection in June, the startups have been working to deploy their solutions locally as well as to further strengthen their businesses with the support of an L-SPARK mentor. The companies in this year’s program come from Calgary to Halifax, including Kanata, and have solutions including artificial intelligence and autonomous driving technologies.
Aurrigo is a maker of self-driving pods and shuttles, providing sustainable mobility solutions for settings including airports, university and industrial campuses. Aurrigo isn’t our typical Living Lab participant – they are an established global company and were recognized this year as the top-performing company on the UK stock exchange. Aurrigo chose Ottawa to launch its North American headquarters in 2018 because of the number of companies here exploring autonomous technology, the interest in collaboration, and the universities and colleges that support the industry. In addition, Kanata North is home to the city’s only public test track for autonomous vehicles.
On stage at the Living Lab Showcase, Dana Borschewski, VP Aviation Products and Operations, spoke about building partnerships in Kanata North – including fortuitous connections with other Living Lab Accelerator participants – and hiring their first engineers and interns locally, “The talent we saw in posting the positions really showcased the talent that there is in Ottawa, and in the tech park and this gives us the confidence to grow and expand our team here.”
As part of the Living Lab, Aurrigo is working with Hub350 and other partners on a long-term vision. “We would love to see one of our medium-speed shuttles here in the tech park addressing local transportation needs! It would be our first shuttle in North America and we would use this as our demonstration site for North America.”
B-Line is an AI-powered smart building platform that helps asset managers and employers automate digital access, amenity booking, space optimization and guest experience for multiple buildings under one platform. As part of the Living Lab Accelerator, a key objective for the company was exploring hospitality as a new vertical. B-Line was thrilled to partner with Kanata North hospitality cornerstone, the Brookstreet Hotel. The hotel management was in turn interested in driving eco-friendly innovation to enhance guest experience and improve operational efficiency.
During the program, B-Line deployed hundreds of sensors throughout the hotel property and began testing its app and analytics with hotel staff. In subsequent phases of the project, the solution is planned to be rolled out to guests.
The Living Lab Accelerator has a heavy focus on hands-on mentorship and guidance, which makes it perfect for companies like B-Line who are hoping to strengthen their business while achieving customer traction. The connection to The Brookstreet Hotel was a perfect example of the impact of the Living Lab in making those critical B2B introductions for emerging companies like B-Line.
METI, or Micro Engineering Tech Inc. is developing cutting-edge AI sensor fusion navigation software for safer automated/connected vehicles. The software solution, named Gulo Gulo, leverages advanced 5G capabilities and enables navigation even in GNSS-denied environments (areas without GPS availability) such as indoors or underground. In the four short months of the Accelerator, the METI team successfully demonstrated two major milestones.
METI created high-definition maps of a route in Kanata North, including the underground garage of the Brookstreet Hotel. Leveraging this mapping data together with their sensor fusion software and their fully instrumented vehicle, the team demonstrated that their real-time solution was able to provide accurate positioning guidance, even in the underground garage – opening the door for future applications such as autonomous valet parking. In collaboration with Area X.O, METI also deployed their software on Area X.O’s autonomous Lexus vehicle, successfully using their sensor fusion solution to navigate the car autonomously – the first demonstration of its kind in Canada.
“During the Living Lab Accelerator, we had an incredible opportunity to showcase our fully autonomous driving solution. By utilizing HD maps and LIDAR for navigation in a GNSS denied environment, we achieved remarkable accuracy. We are grateful for the support we received from Hub350, Area X.O and other partners, as it will greatly accelerate our commercialization efforts in the upcoming year,” explained Mohamed Elhabiby, METI Executive Vice President.
METI also had their Gulo Gulo vehicle, equipped with a variety of sensors, on-site at the Hub350 Annual Partner Summit.
Soralink’s CEO, Yun Yao, was introduced to Calabogie Brewing when she applied to the program, eager to expand pilots beyond her home province of Quebec. “It is very important for an early stage startup to get feedback from customers,” she explained, “We use AI models and it is crucial for us to get as much data as soon as possible from real live situations like at Calabogie.”
Soralink is a complete solution for industrial machine monitoring and predictive maintenance. Operating on the cellular network, Soralink’s solution includes a cloud-based AI prediction engine, proprietary sensor and analytics dashboard – making Soralink the perfect solution for businesses like Kanata’s own Calabogie Brewing Co. Modern Niagara, provider of HVAC service to much of the Kanata North Tech Park, met Yun at the pitch day in May and also kicked off a pilot during the program.
“Calabogie is already learning about the behaviour of our chillers,” says Patrick Fiori, Director of Operations at Calabogie, “If one of our chillers goes down for even a day, we have a major production issue.” With Soralink, the Calabogie team no longer has to rely on human monitoring or waiting for something to break down, before they can make a repair or change that could save them from potential revenue loss. Thanks to the success of the Soralink Living Lab pilot, Calabogie plans to extend the deployment.
Zendelity’s Command Center solution combines the power of the smartphone and near-field communications (NFC) to digitally transform how organizations manage physical operating compliance. The solution offers real-time compliance monitoring and reporting, along with alerts and easily accessible proof of compliance.
During the Living Lab Accelerator, Zendelity partnered with Lépine Apartments in Kanata to deploy their Command Center solution to support preventative maintenance as well as health and safety compliance. “For us, the Living Lab has been very helpful in getting early feedback from our customers. Lépine Apartments has been fantastic at stress-testing our product to ensure it meets requirements.”
Already deployed at Carleton University, Zendelity has made further B2B connections through Hub350 Partners like Queen’s University, where their solution could have a great impact on their campus health and safety compliance processes.
What’s next for the Living Lab?
The goal for KNBA has always been to create an environment for business success, and to foster the passion for technology and innovation that exists in Canada’s Largest Technology Park. What better way to achieve this than to partner with L-SPARK, Canada’s leading SaaS accelerator, who also happens to be a member of the Kanata North Business Association?
At L-SPARK, we’re equally passionate about fuelling the next generation of disruption and innovation. We couldn’t be more excited about KNBA’s mission to bring the living lab to life here in Kanata North.
We cannot wait to see what the future of the Hub350 x L-SPARK Living Lab Accelerator will look like as we look forward to 2024 and the third cohort.