There is a perfect niche to attract tenants to the Hamilton Technology Centre, says Rob McCann, who bought the 40,000-square-foot facility in 2017 and is planning to invest millions.
“When I came here, I recognized the value a place like this could have. It fits nicely between the smaller co-working spaces and the bigger McMaster Innovation Park. This offers a mid tier for folks who are accelerating,” he said.
“The companies that are very well financed can go to MIP or MaRS or Communitech. But if you’re smaller or just starting out and you can’t afford that level, you can come here. We offer the same services but at a competitive price.”
McCann, the founder of broadband company Clearcable Networks, seized the opportunity to buy the HTC where he had been leasing space from the City of Hamilton.
The facility at 7 Innovation Dr. in Dundas was founded as a small- business incubation centre by the City in 1993 and is part of the Flamborough Business Park at Highways 5 and 6. It was funded and operated by the city’s economic development division until McCann took it over in August 2017.
“Clearcable will adopt the original vision of HTC by applying their own expertise and contacts within this industry, and continue to foster the development of emerging technology companies such as theirs,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger at the time of the sale.
“We see Clearcable as a business and community leader in supporting Hamilton’s technology sector.”
HTC features a large atrium and 17 tenants in about 27,000 square feet of leasable space in units ranging from 175 to 4,000 square feet. A total of about 6,000 square feet is available, says McCann. Tenants include start-ups and established companies.
Imaging giant L3 Wescam got its start there. A 2014 staff report said 72 companies with more than 290 employees have graduated from the facility. The seeds of Hamilton’s growing innovation ecosystem were planted with the HTC, says McCann, and believes all the pieces are in place in Hamilton to be a technology powerhouse.
HTC is at the nexus of Canada’s Innovation Triangle, has access to 120 million people with a 500-mile radius and is situated alongside Hamilton International Airport, an international seaport, the vertex of Ontario’s major highways, and is a short drive to the University of Waterloo and McMaster.
“I’m convinced there is a remarkable opportunity here. Everything is in place for things to come together.”
McCann is focused on providing the atmosphere in which entrepreneurs can meet, interact and collaborate.
Clearcable, which employs about 40 employees, takes up about 30 per cent of HTC. It had been bursting at the seams at its previous location on Hester Street. When he looked at HTC, he was immediately convinced it was the perfect home for the company.
He says HTC has the potential to be a regional innovation centre, so he is investing in the building by updating the HVAC system, replacing the lighting system with energy-e cient LEDs and investigating options for solar power generation. He says plans include electric car charging stations and outdoor streetlights that will showcase smart lighting for cities. There will also be a data centre on site that will act as a demonstration for the cities and service providers that are Clearcable’s customers.
Clearcable designs, configures, connects and supports broadband equipment for service providers from Whitehorse to the Bahamas – 60 in Canada and 14 internationally. It opened a location in Netherlands last year.