ITWC photos by Howard Solomon
ITWC photos by Howard Solomon

SAN FRANCISCO — California wine was flowing this week at the trade show during RSA’s annual conference, but the booth it was being served from had a Canadian flavour.

The stand was co-sponsored by the federal and Ontario government’s trade sections, which brought representatives of 20 IT security-related firms here who didn’t want to buy or couldn’t find booths to meet potential customers, partners and investors.

“If the companies were to do this on their own it would be exceedingly difficult and likely much more expensive,” Mauricio Ospina, director of technology for the U.S. at Ontario’s ministry of citizenship, immigration and international trade, who was co-host. “The (12) Ontario companies also obtained full conference passes.”

Ontario government's Mauricio Ospina, right, with Lamin Sisay of Ottawa's inBay Technologies
Ontario’ government’s Mauricio Ospina, right, with Lamin Sisay of Ottawa’ inBay Technologies

What they got was access to Canadian databases of potential customers, briefings by the Department of Homeland Security’s chief procurement officer and a DHS cybersecurity official, meetings with U.S. and Japanese system integrators — the later were brought over by the Canadian embassy in Japan — meetings with U.S. venture capital firms and breakfast with seven members of the C-100 group of Canadians entrepreneurs now living in Silicon Valley.

“We came here with the idea of finding potential customers or partners we can collaborate with, especially  to extend ourselves into the U.S. market,” said Lamin Sisay, director of business development and sales for the Americas at Ottawa’s inBay Technologies, which makes a smart phone-based multi-factor authentication solution that eliminates passwords.

“We are ready to let the world know we have an incredible solution that is a game changing technology that can revolutionize cloud computing.”

It’s “absolutely” been worth it, he said. And although he hadn’t signed a contract, he felt positive. “One of the best experiences as far as business development and prospecting … It’s all about mind-sharing. You get out there, you build a relationship with people and you don’t know where those relationships will take you. You’ve got to have a very open mind and get your story out, and somewhere, somehow it’s going to resonate with somebody.”

Anas Tawileh of Toronto's Systematics Consulting, left, with Tony Abou-Assaleh of Waterloo, Ont.'s TitanFile
Anas Tawileh of Toronto’s Systematics Consulting, left, with Tony Abou-Assaleh of Waterloo, Ont.’s TitanFile

This was the third RSA Conference for Ottawa’s Phirelight Security Solutions, which makes a situational awareness analytics platform and has 100 customers in Canada. This time it decided to go on a trade mission because of the contacts both provinces offered.

Trade missions — the company has already been on ones to Washington and Mexico City — are a good way “to get out there and test the market in different countries as see which way you want to go in your business plan,” Wayne Teeple, president and founder, said as he and his team worked the crowd.

“I can’t speak highly enough of this,” he said of the government-sponsored mission.

Wednesday’s meet-and-greet session at the Canada booth also drew Canadians working in Silicon Valley who were at the show, such as former Vancouverite Kaliya Young, who writes the Identity Woman blog and co-runs an interactive conference design and facilitation firm  .

Also on the tour are Amenaza Technologies of Calgary, which makes threat scenario testing software; Arcadia of Montreal, a service that detects advanced persistent threats; Cicada Security Technology of Montreal, which makes a mobile device data protection solution; Devera Logic of Ottawa, which makes access control policy administration software for attribute-based access control systems; EchoWorx of Toronto, a message encryption platform; KeyNexus of Victoria, B.C.; an encryption key storage as a service provider; Isara Corp. of Waterloo, Ont., which builds quantum computing resistant solutions for classical data security systems; Messageware of Mississauga, Ont., which makes a solution for protecting Microsoft Exchange users; SecDev of Ottawa, which has a threat intelligence service; SecureKey of Toronto, an identity and authorization provider;  Systematics Consulting of Toronto. which helps organizations define their security strategy; TitanFile of Kitchener, Ont., which helps professionals like lawyers create private collaborative workspaces to exchange messages; TrustPoint of Waterloo, which makes solutions for the Internet of Things; uConeck Inc. of Pickering, Ont., which makes a platform for locating smart mobile devices;  VoR Security of Ottawa, which makes tools to automate secure software development, WAW Technologies of Ottawa, which makes network monitoring products, and Wedge Networks of Calgary, which maks an orchestrated threat management platform.

In addition at least four Canadian companies had booths — BlackBerry; mobile device management provider SOTI Inc. of Mississauga, Ont.; Messageware; and Nymi, which makes a wearable multi-factor authentication wrist band.