The diversification of Waterloo Region’s tech sector took a giant step forward today, with news that a 475,000-square-foot hardware innovation centre will take over a sprawling former warehouse at 137 Glasgow St. in Kitchener by the summer of 2017.

The Catalyst137 project, spearheaded by Miovision CEO Kurtis McBride and real estate investor Frank Voisin, promises to situate the world’s largest Internet of Things technology centre near the heart of downtown Kitchener, less than two kilometres from the Tannery complex and Google’s new Canadian engineering headquarters.

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Catalyst137 features loading docks to facilitate shipping of product and materials. (Communitech photo: Phil Froklage)

The $55-million project, which also involves Toronto-based development giant Osmington Inc., will allow Miovision to relocate its 120-employee traffic-
management innovation company from its current location in a suburban Kitchener industrial area, and provide numerous spaces of varying size to startups that specialize in the fast-growing field of connected hardware.

With 11 acres of floor space under one roof, the low-slung building – built as a Kaufman Footwear storage building in the 1950s – features loading docks and ideal conditions for hardware companies to conduct fabrication and device testing. It will include shared manufacturing space with 3D printers, laser cutters, metalworking equipment, and sensors throughout the complex will be accessible to software developers to facilitate experimentation.

“Catalyst137 will make it possible for us to one day say that much of the Internet of Things industry was invented in the Waterloo Region,” McBride said, referring to the massive emerging market for Internet-connected devices.

Gartner, the research firm, estimates that 20.8 billion connected devices will be in use by 2020, up from 6.4 billion this year, with 5.5 million new devices currently being added daily.

“Innovation is thriving in Kitchener-Waterloo,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “Catalyst is yet another example of the community coming together to provide a place to nurture that innovation and help spread the success that so many here have experienced. There is nowhere else in the world that can match this area for the mix of resources supporting such a variety of technological advancement.”