New investment attraction agency part of city economic development strategy

Published in the Ottawa Business Journal newspaper and website.
June 30, 2011 on (July 11 in the paper edition)

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An OCRI-led initiative to attract fresh investment to Ottawa is among the highlights detailed in a new report on the city’s economic development plan, released Thursday.

Late in the afternoon before the Canada Day long weekend, the city said $1.55 million would go towards creating a new program, dubbed “Invest Ottawa,” in conjunction with OCRI.

The initiative, which will be launched in the fall of 2011, “will be focused on Continue reading →

Ericsson to move to Kanata Research Park in 2012

Published in the Ottawa Business Journal newspaper and website.
June 28, 2011

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349 Terry Fox Dr.
349 Terry Fox Dr., Kanata
Ottawa Business Journal file photo.

Swedish telecommunications equipment maker Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) has confirmed the location of its new Kanata digs and its continued presence in Ottawa after the federal government takes over the former Nortel campus.

Ericsson, whose lease at the Nortel campus expires in 2012, announced Tuesday that its new Ottawa-based R&D centre would be at 349 Terry Fox Dr. in the Kanata Research Park, an address that was earlier identified in an OBJ report in April.

“Ericsson is pleased to move our Ottawa-based employees to a state-of-the-art facility providing leading-edge R&D for global telecom service providers,” said Ericsson Canada CEO Mark Henderson in a statement. “We look forward to remaining in the Ottawa area, one of North America’s leading R&D hubs.”

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who attended the event, added, “Ericsson Canada’s announcement … is an important commitment to our technology sector and for the 900 Ericsson employees and their families here in the nation’s capital.”

Spokesperson Patricia MacLean said the new facility will have Continue reading →

Bridgewater to be acquired for $211M

Published on the Ottawa Business Journal website.
June 17, 2011

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Ed Ogonek of Bridgewater Systems.
Bridgewater Systems’ Ed Ogonek.
Photo by ETIENNE RANGER for the
Ottawa Business Journal.

Broadband control system supplier Bridgewater Systems (TSX:BWC) said Friday it has reached a friendly takeover agreement with Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE:DOX) worth $211 million.

The company noted that the transaction is worth $8.20 per share in cash, which is a 30-per-cent premium over its closing price of $6.33 on Thursday, although shares of the company opened considerably higher on the Toronto Stock Exchange following the pre-market announcement, at $8.15.

The transaction still requires approval from Bridgewater shareholders and regulators, but is expected to close by mid-September.

“Becoming part of Amdocs would enable us to accelerate our corporate growth strategy, centred around global expansion,” said president and CEO Ed Ogonek in a release.

He also noted that the transaction would enable “the transformation to next-generation converged networks, portfolio and solution innovation, and leveraging our installed base.”

David Sharpley, Bridgewater’s senior vice-president of marketing, said Bridgewater would remain an “independent stand-alone business unit within Amdocs.”

While he said there could be some “overlap” in administrative functions following the acquisition, Bridgewater expects its local head count will continue to grow overall, including new additions in the engineering department.

The company currently employs about 240 people at its Ottawa headquarters, with total global staff numbers of about 300.

“An acquisition like this means Continue reading →

Optelian to double size of R&D, manufacturing facility

Published on the Ottawa Business Journal website.
June 15, 2011

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Optelian is moving to a facility double the size of its current location and is adding new research and development and manufacturing staff, the company announced Wednesday.

The Ottawa-based optical networking technology maker – which was recently named one of OBJ‘s Fastest Growing Companies of 2011 – said it’s moving its design and manufacturing operations to a larger facility to support rapid sales growth of its products and solutions.

“Our larger facility will enable us to Continue reading →

Axentra seeking more funding for global expansion

Published on the Ottawa Business Journal website.
June 14, 2011

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Ottawa firm adding 1,500 to 2,000 users daily

Eric Lefebvre and Marc Benglia of Axentra
Axentra co-founders Eric Lefebvre (left) and Marc Benglia.
(Photo supplied)

Ottawa-based Axentra is preparing to grow both at home and internationally in the next two years, to about 100 people in total, following the news that its HipServ platform has surpassed 400,000 users and is set to grow to one million by the end of this year.

The company’s technology creates a “home cloud” environment that allows users to remotely access their photos, videos, music and other media located on devices at home, much like a “mini-Facebook,” without the dangers associated with having all that personal information floating around on the Internet. With the advent of smartphones, Axentra’s HipServ offering is taking off, and the company now boasts 1,500 to 2,000 new users on a daily basis, says executive vice-president and co-founder Eric Lefebvre.

That’s based on the number of devices that HipServ is built into, such as Seagate’s GoFlex Home network storage system, whose remote access ability is completely powered by Axentra’s technology, says Mr. Lefebvre. The company also counts Verbatim – another storage device maker – among its clients, as well as big names such as Netgear, Roxio and European telco Orange.

While Mr. Lefebvre says HipServ is targeting an estimated 1.3 billion compatible devices, from PCs to routers to tablet computers, with the size of the vast consumer space making it difficult to estimate the dollar value of his company’s market. It’s clear, though, that Continue reading →

LeoNovus challenges Google, Yahoo with connected TV solution

Published on the Ottawa Business Journal website.
June 9, 2011

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Ottawa team to double or triple over next year

While the ability to browse the Internet from your television has been around since the 1990s, it’s mostly been a slow, crude, restrictive experience – and that’s something that LeoNovus (TSX-V:LTV) wants to change with its “secret sauce.”

“There’s now an entire generation of people watching TV with their laptops on their laps because you’ll want to show your family and friends something on YouTube and so on … and that’s so wrong when you’ve got that big (TV) display available,” says Dan Willis, the Ottawa-based chief architect of the Palo Alto, Calif. company, which opened the TSX Venture Exchange earlier this week.

LeoNovus is set to double or triple its seven-person Ottawa team within the next year as it begins to roll out the first incarnations of its product, a technology that Continue reading →

Chemaphor’s Avivagen division puts spotlight on pet market

Published on the Ottawa Business Journal website.
June 6, 2011

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Parent company to take a back seat

Graham Burton of Chemaphor
Graham Burton, co-founder of Chemaphor.
(Photo supplied)

Like many biomedical companies before it, Chemaphor’s original plan was to develop a cure for cancer. That’s still a future possibility, but in the meanwhile, the company has adapted.

The result? A commercial version of its oxidized beta-carotene compound for the up-and-coming pet market, which Chemaphor is selling through its newly launched Avivagen Animal Health subsidiary. The first product is the chewable Oximunol tablet for dogs, intended to improve the animal’s immune system function, which can lead to better mobility for older dogs and healthier, shinier coats that shed less.

Co-founder Graham Burton says the growing pet market could also be the gateway to human applicability.

“You have to test on animals anyway to get into the human market, and if you can come up with a product that benefits animals, why not make money on it?” says Mr. Burton. “Our goal is to obtain self-sufficiency through our revenues.”

Given the long lead times and expense of clinical trials in preparation for human use, even for non-drug natural health products like Chemaphor’s, it’s a smart move, notes Cate McCready, vice-president of external affairs for industry association BIOTECanada.

“It’s not easy to make it through the elongated cycle … biotech companies are looking for ‘patient capital’ and further, for investors who’ve got a very strong knowledge base in terms of the technology. It’s a highly competitive framework to attract dollars,” says Ms. McCready. “(Chemaphor’s) been extremely nimble in adapting; as they frame their technology portfolio, they’re looking at how to pick out a couple of products which have a chance of getting into the marketplace quicker than others, and that’s the goal: to drive into the marketplace as quickly as possible.”

While Oximunol doesn’t have Continue reading →

Former BreconRidge operations ‘centre of gravity’ for Sanmina

Published in the Ottawa Business Journal newspaper and website.
May 30, 2011 (May 31 on

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Sanmina’s Ottawa operations are making strides in clean tech, including manufacturing solar inverters.
(Photo supplied)

While there are always fears of a local company being hollowed out after being acquired by a foreign or multinational firm, Cyril McKelvie says there’s been a lot of reassurance on that front since San Jose, Calif.-based Sanmina-SCI bought Ottawa manufacturing firm BreconRidge Corp. for US$53 million in May 2010.

As the merged companies mark the acquisition’s anniversary, Sanmina’s local operations now have “somewhere north of 500 employees” and customers in new markets not previously served by BreconRidge.

“It feels to me (as though) we’ve got a partner here with a very strong balance sheet and global footprint, that sees us as an asset,” says Mr. McKelvie, the former CEO of BreconRidge who’s now executive vice-president of Sanmina’s optical microelectronics division. “They didn’t do (the acquisition) to strip us out, but to grow us, and that’s the only message I’ve received throughout.”

He acknowledges the acquisition resulted in “synergies,” which did lead to an unspecified number of layoffs that mostly affected employees in corporate functions. However, he says manufacturing and engineering staff, to a large extent, remained intact.

“The essence of the value-add for the operations left here is still very much in play,” notes Mr. McKelvie. He points in particular to BreconRidge’s historical stronghold in the optical technology manufacturing space, which harks back to the company’s genesis as a Mitel offshoot that later bought Nortel’s high-speed modules business.

“That (Ottawa) facility today is a centre of gravity for (Sanmina’s) optical microelectronics division.”
Mr. McKelvie says customers have mentioned how the acquisition was a “game-changer” for Sanmina, especially given the buzz around optical communications technology.

That’s a thought echoed by John Haydon, who’s witnessed Continue reading →

DEFENCE & SECURITY: Textron’s Ottawa office targets expansion

Published in the Ottawa Business Journal newspaper and website.
May 30, 2011

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The Textron TAPV
Textron’s tactical armoured patrol vehicle.
(Photo supplied)

Neil Rutter says he’s long advocated for the opening of an Ottawa outpost for Textron Systems, one that’s to be more than just a small marketing office for the Massachusetts-based defence technology company.

Mr. Rutter, an Ottawa native who’s returning to Textron after a two-year stint at a Washington, D.C. firm, says he suggested the location during his previous seven years as Textron’s director of international contracts.

“This is a prime business development location for defence business and a logical base for us; the customer is here and it’s as close as we can get,” says the newly minted general manager of Ottawa-based Textron Systems Canada, which opened in late March.

The company launched the local office to Continue reading →

2011 FASTEST GROWING COMPANIES: On stable ground

Published in the Ottawa Business Journal newspaper and website.
May 16, 2011

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Local firms demonstrate rapid, sustained growth

For many of the firms on this year’s Fastest Growing Companies list, staying power is the name of the game.

These stalwarts have demonstrated sustained growth and are making their second, third, or even fourth appearance. And along with several fresh entrants offering products and services for a wide variety of uses – including the 3D movie industry, construction, and social media – this year’s crop shows an Ottawa that’s starting to build a diverse economy, with success stories from different life stages and markets.

What’s more, not only are these companies growing at a brisk pace, but they’re also all on strong financial footing – they’re either currently profitable, or have achieved profitability in the past and are now taking an aggressive approach to investing in their firms’ further growth.

As well, all share in common a drive to innovate within their respective industries, while working closely with customers’ ideas and needs, whether that means providing customized technologies, or being their own best clients to better understand what people using their products and services require.

All Fastest Growing Companies honourees are headquartered in the National Capital Region and have demonstrated revenue growth and positive cash flow over the past three years. In year one, the companies had a minimum revenue of $100,000 and by year three, a minimum of $1 million.

Continue reading →