As posted in the Globe and Mail, written by Tavia Grant
View the original article here.

Cisco taps Toronto as one of four global innovation hubs

Cisco Systems Inc. has chosen Toronto as one of its four new global innovation hubs, a move it says represents an investment of $100-million in the city over 10 years.

Canada’s largest city joins Songdo, South Korea, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and another as-yet unnamed location that have been slated as centres for innovation, the company said Wednesday.

Cisco said in December it plans to expand in Ontario, announcing investment plans for up to $4-billion to build research and development facilities in the coming decade, with the Ontario government agreeing to kick in up to $220-million. Today’s announcement marks the first stage in that plan.

“This North American hub for thought leadership and experimentation will bring together start-ups, technology and services partners, academia and customers to rethink and transform the status-quo,” the San Jose, Calif.-based company said in a release.

The world’s largest maker of computer-networking equipment says it will focus on opportunities around the so-called “Internet of everything,” helping start-ups and established companies “while fostering Canadian-based innovation.”

Many will welcome the news, given that Canada has lagged its peers in measures of innovation, particularly in venture capital investment and business R&D spending.

Toronto’s innovation centre marks a $100-million investment in design, infrastructure, staffing, technology and operational costs over 10 years. It will occupy about 15,000 square feet of office space in Oxford Properties’ RBC WaterPark Place, due for completion in the spring of 2015. The building will also become Cisco’s new Canadian headquarters.

The release didn’t say whether provincial or municipal governments are contributing to its Toronto investment plan.

The new centre “will reaffirm Toronto as an information and technology leader,” said deputy mayor Norm Kelly in a statement. It will also make the city “an even better place for entrepreneurs and innovators to do business.”

It comes as Ontario has grappled with the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs in the past year. Eric Hoskins, the province’s minister of economic development said new facility “cements Ontario’s position as a global leader in high-tech and innovation.”

Cisco said in December its expansion plans could lead to the creation of up to 1,700 high-tech jobs in the coming years. The government’s contribution sparked a debate over whether the province should be funding a profitable, multinational company.

The Internet of everything refers to the ability to connect devices such as heart monitors, cars and thermometers to the web, and monitor them in real time. Cisco sees it as a $19-trillion opportunity in the coming decade, including $500-billion for public and private-sector organizations in Canada.