The COVID-19 pandemic has spun up a variety of unprecedented demands. The Ontario Centre of Excellence launched its COVID-19 platform to connect technology companies across Ontario together to increase their solution’s speed to market.
Responding to OCE’s call to action is 340 partners, many of which are from the tech sector, to help combat the challenges stemming from COVID-19. Braden Root-McCaig, director of communication and strategy at OCE, told IT World Canada that the platform not only serves as an emergency response but also to prepare the country for when it emerges from the lockdown.
“The tech sectors is a big area of research and development, IP production, job growth and company creation,” said Root-McCaig. “As the conversation increasingly becomes ‘how do we get back on track economically’, then we’re going to need collaborators and we’re also going to need to be able to identify the remote work solutions in the new normal, we’re basically inventing the new normal of how we get back to work. And innovation is going to be a big part of that.”
Root-McCaig explained that the Canadian government’s needs are constantly changing based on the emerging needs of the evolving situation.
As one of the newer partners of OCE’s collaborative platform, the Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks (CENGN) spoke about the many ways OCE’s collaboration platform was able to aid in combating COVID-19.
“The idea is to bring separate parties together,” said Richard Waterhouse, vice-president of business development at CENGN. “Someone who has a need and someone who has a solution and make those introductions to try and advance them. Then, to build up an ecosystem where people can exchange ideas and thoughts and get those creative juices flowing.”
CENGN is a collaboration platform that coalesces Canada’s telecommunication industry to research and develop Canada’s networks. Its members include prominent industry players including Bell, Telus, Nokia, along with an array of universities like the University of Waterloo and York University.
One of the many innovations OCE was able to help foster was Clēan Works, which traditionally specialized in cleaning fruits and vegetables. Through the platform, CleanWorks was able to repurpose its function to clean personal protection equipment so they can be reused. OCE was able to connect Clean Works with chemical and medical specialists to aid with the repurposing. Another example is Clearpath Robotics that outfitted its remote robots with sanitation equipment to sanitize rooms without sending in people.
While it’s traditionally far from a healthcare player, members of CENGN has their own way to contribute to the on-going battle against the pandemic. CENGN has been lending its immense computing power to several SMEs to train and test algorithms. In addition, they’re helping companies to develop better remote access and remote learning solutions.
“One application is where multiple computer systems can actually share their spare CPU cycles to bring supercomputer power in a quick and cost-effective manner to solve some the genome sequencing and some very complex maths that are required as part of the vaccine productions,” Waterhouse elaborated.