Ontario's small and medium-sized businesses to benefit from advanced computing initiative

TORONTO, Feb. 24, 2016 /CNW/ - Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) is teaming with IBM Canada to support the economy and job creation by bringing advanced computing technologies and resources to the province's small and medium-sized businesses.

This morning, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the $54.5 million I3 Project, a multi-tiered initiative that will help 500 small and medium-sized Ontario companies become more globally competitive.

"The I3 Project is a partnership that will see start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs get the tools, technology and expertise they need to grow their business," says OCE President and CEO Dr. Tom Corr. "We are pleased to have the opportunity to oversee this leading-edge initiative, and deliver it across the province with our partners in the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs. With nearly 30 years of experience delivering collaborative programs for the Province of Ontario, we are pleased to have been entrusted to oversee this leading-edge initiative."

In addition to providing unprecedented access to IBM's technical resources including, IBM Cloud, IBM Watson cognitive business technology and the IBM Bluemix cloud development platform, the I3 Project will, under OCE's management, deliver innovative demonstration projects, incubation activities, internships and fellowships.

The initiative builds on OCE's existing work in the high performance computing field. As a member of the Southern Ontario Smart Computing Innovation Platform (SOSCIP), along with IBM and 14 of Ontario's academic institutions, and as a founding partner of Toronto's OneEleven big data incubator, OCE has a track record of success in connecting SMEs with advanced computing technologies.

In the past three years, those two initiatives have supported more than 60 companies leading to the creation or retention of nearly 350 highly skilled jobs in Ontario.

The I3 project was developed through Ontario's Jobs and Prosperity Fund and is expected to create up to 2,600 jobs and generate $410 million in follow-on investment.

"Our government has helped transform Ontario into a thriving tech hub by investing in an educated, talented workforce and fostering a culture of innovation," says Premier Kathleen Wynne. "Today's announcement reinforces our province's position as an ideal place to develop and launch innovative new technologies and concepts, and will help strengthen our economy and create highly-skilled jobs."

"Leveraging the expertise and technologies of anchor firms like IBM will help Ontario create jobs and strengthen the economy," says Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. "The I3 Project will give our small and medium enterprises exposure to larger firms and the tools and skills they need to rapidly scale up to meet global demand and create jobs."

"Our government is proud to support this unique and cutting-edge collaboration, which will reduce barriers for SMEs to leverage IBM's expertise and information technology," says Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation. "Combining this access with OCE's experience in efficient program delivery will make the I3 Project a great example of how to help our businesses spur innovation, increase productivity, and connect to new highly skilled markets around the world." 

About Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc. (www.oce-ontario.org)

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) drives the commercialization of cutting-edge research to build the economy of tomorrow and secure Ontario's global competitiveness. OCE fosters the training and development of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs and is a key partner with Ontario's industry, universities, colleges, research hospitals, domestic and foreign investors, and government ministries. A champion of leading-edge technologies, best practices, innovation, entrepreneurship and research, OCE invests in such areas as advanced health, information and communications technology, digital media, advanced materials and manufacturing, agri-food, aerospace, transportation, energy, and the environment including water and mining. OCE is a key partner in delivering Ontario's Innovation Agenda as a member of the province's Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), which helps Ontario-based entrepreneurs and industry rapidly grow their company and create jobs. Learn more at www.onebusiness.ca

SOURCE Ontario Centres of Excellence Inc.

For further information: Media contact: Stuart Green, Manager, Media Relations, Ontario Centres of Excellence, 416-861-1092 x 1022, stuart.green@oce-ontario.org


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