Six years after the Communitech Hub gave downtown Kitchener a jolt of startup energy, the Communitech Data Hub is set to do the same for uptown Waterloo.

Slated to open early next year in a former police station at Erb and Albert streets, the Communitech Data Hub will help startups, medium-sized companies and large enterprises to capitalize on and collaborate around big data and the Internet of Things. It will also house Canada’s Open Data Exchange.

Waterloo City Council voted 6-0 to support the new initiative Monday, when it approved $680,000 in seed funding over the next three years.

“We have all seen the tremendous success of Communitech’s Hub,” said Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky. “The Hub’s blueprint, coupled with our strong academic research institutes, skilled talent and the right mix of current business will create a landing pad for data focused companies, placing Waterloo as a world leader in a new and emerging growth area.”

The 19,000-square-foot Data Hub will have room for about 14 data-intensive companies and 125 people. The facility could also be designated as a development site for two provincially funded programs dealing with connected-car technology and cyber security and fraud prevention.

“We are thrilled to reclaim a former municipal building and transform it into a hub for data-intensive companies,” said Iain Klugman, President and CEO of Communitech, adding that the new facility “will emulate best practices of the Communitech Hub, supporting companies focused on open data, high-performance computing, cyber security and smart cities technology.”

With the City of Waterloo’s seed money in hand, Communitech hopes to attract investment from other levels of government and the private sector. The original Communitech Hub in the former Lang Tannery received a $500,000 seed grant from the City of Kitchener, which helped to catalyze tens of millions of dollars in economic activity and government support as startups, mature tech companies and corporate partners docked with the innovation centre. This activity, in turn, has helped spur other types of development and reinvigorate downtown Kitchener.

The Data Hub’s uptown location reflects Communitech’s belief in the “urban entrepreneurship model,” Klugman said.

Photo: Waterloo Uptown by Stephen Downes is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.