Canon, one of the world’s most admired companies and biggest brands, officially took the wraps off a new innovation lab in the Communitech Hub in Waterloo Region on Wednesday.

In doing so, the global digital imaging giant has become the latest major company to plug into one of the world’s top startup ecosystems.

Executives from Canon Canada were on hand Wednesday for a two-hour open house at the new lab, which sports a wall painted in vivid red to match the company’s familiar logo.

As the third-highest holder of patents in the United States as of last January, Canon has a well-established history of innovation. We sat down with Ted Egawa, President of Canon Canada, to find out what the company hopes to gain from its engagement with Waterloo Region’s tech community.

Q – Canon is already one of the world’s most innovative companies when it comes to the number of patents it produces. Why does it need an innovation lab?

A – With the advancement of technology, especially in the mobile area, the industry has changed a lot, and us being able to produce a quality product is a different story; how to utilize this mobile environment. Communitech is a very unique environment and a very productive environment for us to focus on image, communication, technology, mobile and the online space.

I was thinking that this would be a great place for us to take part so that we can find ourselves again; [to find out] what kind of value Canon can serve to the community and also to the end user. What that is, we don’t know yet, but that’s my hope and that’s why we got into this community.

Q – As one of the world’s most familiar brands, Canon still means cameras to most people. How is that changing, and what do you want Canon to mean to people in the future?

A – Canon will continue to produce quality products for the end users, and this effort of us being here, hopefully, will expand our opportunity to better use images for the end user. Not the hardware or device; the device is providing the tool to capture the images. However, because of this mobile technology, there are vastly different uses, or a variety of uses, that the user can enjoy.

By being here, we would learn a lot and provide the opportunity for us to learn a lot about how images are being utilized. By learning how images are being utilized, it will give us the opportunity to think better about not only product, but also the services that we can provide to the end user.

Q – Canon could open an innovation lab anywhere. Why did it choose the Communitech Hub?

A – I am representing Canon Canada, and Canon Canada is a marketing and sales company. However, we realize the necessity and importance of focusing on how images are going to be used. We found that, in close proximity to our headquarters [in Mississauga], there’s a great asset and resource. Not only should we take advantage of it, but it would be a great place for us to be inspired, and I was thinking that we could provide similar inspirations to the community.

Knowing that this is one of the big tech-based communities, I thought this would be the greatest place.

Q – What will success look like for the innovation lab?

A – We haven’t established any specific goals yet. This would be the first exploration and we will gradually start thinking about how to set the key performance indicators.

Q – Is there anything you’d like to add?

A – I’m very excited about being here, and I enjoy every time I come here. With the energy and environment, I feel that anything could happen here.

And that’s a great source for us to look for opportunities.

Photo: Ted Egawa, President of Canon Canada, in the company’s new innovation lab at the Communitech Hub

About The Author

Anthony Reinhart
Director, Editorial Strategy

Anthony Reinhart is a veteran journalist who left the Globe and Mail to join Communitech in 2011. Tony has covered everything from crime, politics and courts to business, the arts and sports, and his writing has won numerous journalism awards. He is Communitech's Director of Editorial Strategy and senior staff writer.