David Johnston Research + Technology Park

Carol Stewart

The David Johnston Research + Technology Park (R+T) is one of the largest research parks in Canada and is uniquely located on the University of Waterloo's North Campus. Designed to accommodate 1.2 million square feet of office space on 120-acres (49 hectares), the Research Park houses thousands of ICT industry researchers, and technology jobs. The Research Park has generated an economic impact of $602 million in spending, $428 million in GDP, and $319 million in labour.

The cornerstone of the park is the Accelerator Centre (AC) which is a world-renowned, award-winning centre for the cultivation of technology entrepreneurship located at the gateway of the R+T Park in Waterloo, Ontario. The Accelerator Centre has graduated over 30 companies from their Accelerator Program , and has been ranked 9/10 for overall experience by their clients. Today the park is home to 50+ companies and almost 3,500 knowledge workers.

"It's the richest startup ecosystem I think I've ever seen." - Salim Ismail, Singularity University.

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Over the past two decades Waterloo Region has blossomed as a global centre for innovation. Our startup ecosystem, which has the highest regional density of any area globally outside of Silicon Valley, is now home to thousands of new ventures, led by insanely bright engineers, serial entrepreneurs and mature business people.

But beneath the startup sparkle lies a heck of a lot of work.

It is difficult -- sometimes near impossible -- work to take an idea from concept to commercialization. Nine out of 10 startups fail. So with globally-recognized successes such as Axonify, Kik, Thalmic, Vidyard, Magnet Forensics, Miovision, Clearpath Robotics and others happening here in Waterloo Region, it is obvious to many we have to be doing something very, very right.

We devote this issue of Watch to a study of the commercialization process, which has the University of Waterloo at its epicentre. In it:

  • We sit down to learn the stories of two entrepreneurs, Abdul Rehman and Daniela O'Neill, who are successfully commercializing research coming out of university labs and building their businesses at the Waterloo Accelerator Centre.
  • We visit the Conrad Business, Technology and Entrepreneurship Centre, where entrepreneurs go to master their business skill set and;
  • We sit down with Scott Inwood, Director of Commercialization at the University of Waterloo, explore the role of the university's Waterloo Commercialization Office (WatCo) and the pivotal role of the University of Waterloo's unique "creator-own" intellectual property (IP) rights policy.