Wavefront, Rogers announce Vancouver wireless incubator

In an effort to drive Canadian innovation in wireless technology, Rogers Communication Inc. and Wavefront, a non-profit for Canadian wireless start-ups, have announced a new Wireless Innovation Center (WIC) for the west coast. In addition to the WIC facilities, which would resemble an existing centre in Montreal and showcase technologies utilizing Rogers’ LTE network, the project will also involve pairing start-ups with experts at Rogers and Wavefront.

Brian Roberts, vice-president of business development at Wavefront, said the aim is to get start-ups easier access to industry experts and the potential to develop business relationships. “The other element (of the project) is the Rogers Wavefront Wireless Mentorship Program,” he said. “It provides early-stage companies access to the experts at Wavefront and Rogers.”

For Toronto-based Rogers, the benefit of the Vancouver WIC is two-fold. The showcases can tip businesses off to LTE technologies they have yet to utilize. But the mentorship program will also bring it closer to the next leading technology companies in Canada.

Pam Ferguson, director of machine-to-machine product management for Rogers, said its relationship with incubator Wavefront has already been fruitful. “They’re growing these up-and-coming companies,” she said. “We’ve found a number of partners with our partners at Wavefront.”

Ferguson also said that the testing lab, in conjunction with Wavefront’s facilities, will allow Canadian wireless businesses access to LTE products and environments in addition to the existing facilities. “It’s a really amazing opportunity for both exploring new technologies as well as the amazing deployments we already have live,” she said. “They can both have access to network resources but also have some demos from our specific group of partners in the rogers data alliance.”

Roberts said that Vancouver-based Wavefront already has an established lab but the new devices and gear will be a welcome addition. “Wavefront (has) 14,000 square feet (of) incubator facilities in Vancouver,” he said. “Particularly with Rogers LTE, we’ll see a lot of innovation coming in to that space as well (through) devices, equipment and airtime.”

Roberts said that access to LTE is important in Canada now for entrepreneurs. “Because it’s new, that’s the critical thing,” he said. “There’s great opportunity for innovation but also great export opportunities. This will be the first time we’ve had LTE devices and things like that.”