Hamilton’s Triple Play: Talent, Innovation & Manufacturing

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Benefits for Business Relocation and Expansion with an incredible start-up Vibe

When it comes to innovation, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada takes things to a whole new level.

Home to both McMaster University and Mohawk College, both renowned for their research capabilities, along with the power and prestige of McMaster Innovation Park and technology catalyst Innovation Factory, the city has all the pieces to drive ideas.

That is happening a myriad of fronts, including advanced manufacturing, electric and autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, data science, aerospace, and materials.

The city is a powerful cluster of innovation, but one thing sets it apart from all the others: Hamilton has the manufacturing experience, expertise and capacity to actually build the products that come from great ideas, and the transportation and logistics infrastructure to get those products to global markets.

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“We have all the pieces to make a global impact on so many fronts,” said Karen Mossman, vice-president of research at McMaster University. The university prioritizes experiential learning for students, along with nurturing entrepreneurism, all with the aim of tackling real-world problems.

McMaster also fosters cross-campus collaborations that bring together engineers, health and physical scientists, and experts in the humanities, social sciences and business.

The ecosystem of innovation in Hamilton is second to none, says Jennifer Patterson, senior business development consultant for investment and trade at the City of Hamilton.

“The big players have a pull-together attitude. They work together, collaborate and gather around the table and make things happen.”

For Jeff McIsaac, dean of applied research at Mohawk, the college drives value by using advanced technology and sector expertise to help small and medium companies solve challenges and grow faster and smarter. Mohawk is home to five research centres of excellence in digital health, energy and power, additive manufacturing, medical technology and sustainability, along with specialized expertise in cybersecurity, drones, augmented and virtual reality, big data, and industrial internet of things.

“Mohawk’s expertise takes away risk, helps build capacity, and allows companies to commercialize new solutions for a global market. We are keeping industry at the forefront of technology.”

Intelligent Community

For the second time, Hamilton was named one of the Top7 Intelligent Communities in the World in 2020 by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF).

“This is more evidence of Hamilton’s social and economic transformation in a way that is making us an example to the world,” said Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “Hamilton’s approach to workforce development, innovation, and digital inclusion, as well as our proven excellence in advanced manufacturing and research, means we are charting new paths to lasting prosperity for our people, businesses, and institutions.”

Innovation was one of six measures that also included connectivity, knowledge workforce, digital inclusion, community education and engagement, and sustainability.

Autonomous and Electric Vehicles

The McMaster Automotive Resource Centre is one of Canada’s leading research facilities in electric and hybrid vehicles, where researchers are developing advanced and efficient powertrains and components, and identifying light materials to make cars more fuel efficient.

The Centre for Integrated Transportation and Mobility is a division of Innovation Factory and one of six key centres exploring connected and autonomous vehicles and integrated mobility in Ontario.

The goal is to enable Ontario-based small and medium-sized enterprises to develop, prototype, and validate new technologies, access specialized equipment, and obtain business and technical advice in the autonomous and connected vehicle sector.

Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster

It’s entirely appropriate that the agency leading the Canadian government’s advanced manufacturing innovation supercluster initiative be headquartered in Hamilton, the heart of manufacturing in the country.

Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen) works to strengthen collaboration among its membership of more than 2,800 manufacturers, technology companies, innovation centres, and researchers, and provides funding and business support to industry-led initiatives that aim to develop, apply, or scale-up transformative manufacturing solutions in Canada for commercialization in global markets.

NGen has leveraged its $124 million investment and $230 million in industry funding into 60 projects, 200 intellectual property opportunities, close to 1,000 jobs, and four spinoff companies.

CanMetMATERIALS

Canada’s largest research centre dedicated to fabricating, processing, and evaluating metals and materials, the federally funded CanMetMATERIALS, is located at McMaster Innovation Park.

Its facility includes specialized labs in casting, forming, corrosion, materials testing and design to support industry innovation in transportation, construction; clean energy production; pipelines; and emerging and defence materials.

BROAD BAND BOOSTS BUSINESS

Its high level of connectivity and enviable broadband speeds were among the reasons Hamilton was named one of the world’s Top7 Intelligent Communities in 2020.

“Hamilton is at the apex of the Toronto-Buffalo-Detroit corridor so there is a lot of high-quality fibre infrastructure that transports through the city,” said Rob McCann, founder of Clearcable Networks and the president of the Hamilton Technology Centre.

“The carriers that transit services through the city service the very largest customers, and provide direct connectivity to other major cities, while smaller entities are well served by a large number of great service providers.”

Hamilton has always pioneered on connectivity, starting with MountainCablevision, which was one of the first to provide underground cable, continuing with one of the earliest internet providers in NetAccess, and then with the city’s early investment in fibre that lives on in the municipally owned HCE Telecom.

McCann says Hamilton offers everything his company, which builds broadband networks for municipalities across Canada, needs to do business.

“Broadband infrastructure really does converge here. That has driven so much innovation over the decades.”

TECH HUB HOT SPOT

Edgy brick-and-beam buildings being converted into modern office space are attracting a growing number of tech companies to Hamilton’s downtown.

That includes rapidly growing digital marketing and media company Operatic Agency, which searched for two years for the perfect location, as it outgrew space in another heritage building in Hamilton’s downtown and in Burlington. The company was thrilled that its existing Hamilton landlord, Core Urban, was undertaking another redevelopment of a heritage building with more space.

Its new home features 14-foot ceilings and huge windows and there is even an auditorium-style space at the rear that will host social functions in the future, says Spencer Russell, senior director of business operations. The open concept allows the company’s staff to physically distance, too.

“Usually, you’d think you’d only be able to find cool brick and beam space like this in Toronto. But it’s here in Hamilton where there is an affordable lifestyle. You can have a backyard for your kids or your dog five minutes from work.”

Russell says the neighbourhood is a selling point to talent.

“It’s really buzzing and we are right in the middle of it. We have great restaurants nearby, a beautiful park across the street, an amazing rooftop patio. We couldn’t be happier where we are,” said Russell.

Q4 Inc. is just as thrilled.

The company, which helps global companies manage investor relationships, recently opened its fourth office, with Hamilton joining the likes of Toronto, New York City, and London.

Q4 works with 2,300 clients, including Apple, Nike, McDonalds and Visa, and is growing rapidly. It will soon have 150 employees working from its Hamilton location.

The access to a pool of talent across the entire west end of the GTA, along with “game-changing” downtown economic investment, housing affordability, cool architecture, and an urban lifestyle, convinced the company Hamilton was the place to be, says Dorothy Arturi, Q4’s chief people officer.

“We are finding exceptional talent in the Hamilton market and a number of our employees have moved to Hamilton after we opened our office because of the quality of life.”

The city is on the forefront of becoming the next tech hub, she says, with its proximity to Toronto being a key advantage.

“It makes all the sense in the world to come to Hamilton. We hope that other companies will join us here.”