Ottawa’s tech industry organization receives makeover

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The OCRI was more focused on lobbying IT issues and providing incubator services for high-tech startups, but the mandate will extend to broaden the scope of what the organization does.

he Ottawa Centre for Regional Innovation (OCRI) has received a new name and a new mandate, as the agency in charge of promoting the technology sector in Ottawa will now be known as Invest Ottawa, according to IT Business Canada.

The news source reported that this move is more than just a renaming, as the new mandate will reshape what the organization will do within the sector.

The OCRI was more focused on lobbying IT issues and providing incubator services for high-tech startups, but the mandate will extend to broaden the scope of what the organization does.

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson has noted that Invest Ottawa will be “the flagship of the city’s $5.5 million annual economic development strategy,” according to a release from the city. IT Business Canada reported that he will be the co-chair of the organization, and is likely to take a more hands-on role in the development of the local economy.

According to the news source, the organization may have a wider focus, but the knowledge-based sectors in the city will not receive any less attention. Watson noted that creating IT jobs in Canada is important, along with increasing investment in green energy, defence and security, digital media, film and television and life sciences.

IT Business Canada reported that the city’s tech sector has grown exponentially since the inception of OCRI in 1985, and it has remained strong, even with the dot com bubble burst in the late 1990s. Richard Florida, a professor at the Rotman School of Management, recently ranked Ottawa as the best overall city based on the “three Ts:” technology, talent and tolerance.

The Ottawa Business Journal reported that the change would help the organization move forward, as the old thinking that may have favored conservatism is now being replaced with a more innovative strategy.

“They weren’t open to change, they weren’t open to looking past Kanata, and it was all about what we used to do, not what we’re going to do,” Harley Finkelstein, chief platform officer for Shopify, said at the launch of Invest Ottawa.

Speaking to a crowd of roughly 500 attendees, Finkelstein outlined the ways that young entrepreneurs could get financial protection from the organization. He noted that technology-based businesses would get more funding, and that equity capital would be invested more heavily in the tech sector.

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