Kitchener hardware hub taking shape

News Nov 02, 2016 by Bill Jackson Kitchener Post

The circuit-board configuration of the courtyard isn’t just coincidence.   

“It’s taking the program that’s in here and bringing it out into the architecture,” said Feby Kuriakose of SRM Architects, the firm leading the design of Catalyst 137, the region’s newest cluster of innovation.

Announced earlier this year, the project will transform the former Dominion Tire plant at 137 Glasgow St. into a hub for burgeoning, high-tech hardware companies.

“If you look at the main outdoor plaza, it’s a giant circuit board,” Kuriakose said at a kick-off event last week. She drew parallels to the makeup of Communitech, which includes amenities to serve those inside as well as people off the street.

“This space is going to be what we’re calling the retail market,” Kuriakose said. “So this is going to be the space that people are going to congregate in. There’s going to be a café that opens out onto this space and also a restaurant and gym.”

To see it now, you’d hardly know it.

The 475,000-square-foot building, which was also a distribution centre for the former Kaufman Footwear company, is a shell of itself today. Even its latest visionary is bit skeptical at times.

“Every week that I come in here the building looks worse than the week before,” said Kurtis McBride, inviting laughter from his audience. “I’m told that’s progress.”

By summer of next year, McBride’s company Miovision will move into a 146,000-square foot space at the north end of the property.

The locally based company, specializing in traffic data collection and signal operations, currently employs about 300 people on Manitou Drive.

When McBride consulted his staff about a potential move, they told him to keep operations intact, including production, preferably in a downtown locale.

But such parameters proved to be a daunting task.

Until now, the need for manufacturing space and loading docks relegated many hardware companies to the outskirts of Kitchener-Waterloo. Software companies needing less space located in the city centre.

One glaring need for Miovision was ample space for parking.

McBride couldn’t find anything suitable except for the over-sized building on Glasgow Street, and knowing such a transformation would only be financially feasible with partners on board, he set out to prove there were others in town with similar needs.

A drop-in event drew 260 people, which McBride said was a testament to the number hardware companies that sprung from the decline of BlackBerry.

Frank Voisin of Voisin Capital jumped on board as an investor, and it became obvious that Catayst 137 was “something that needed to happen,” McBride said. “People voted with their feet.”

The whole point is to cluster everything hardware companies need to get to market quickly in the Internet-of-Things era, whether it’s help with prototyping, certification, IT and industrial design, or simply a place to eat and drink beer, he said.

“We’re going to put that all under one roof with the idea that locating here will give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

Some of the first tenants that will help to establish “an ecosystem of support services” were introduced last week.

Snap Pea will offer industrial design services and Swift Labs will provide RF testing and hardware design. FoxNet is installing the IT backbone into the building and Spin will provide integration and the visual interface that includes a “hackable streetscape.”

My Shop Makerspace provides shop equipment, from disk sanders and soldering irons to lathes and 3D printers, for tenant use. Now located at 44 Gaukel St., the company will be moving its entire shop into Catalyst 137.

“We are going to be a service to all those who move in, as well as public access as well,” said owner Josh Kubassek. “For less than the cost of leasing one machine, they can have access to every machine on our list.

“Think of it like a gym. You’re not going to go buy all those pieces of equipment. You’re going to go to a gym where someone else maintains it for you, somebody else trains you how to use it and somebody else makes sure you’re safe, and that’s what we do for technological equipment.”

Stryve Digital Marketing will also provide services, and has already assisted with the branding and website for Catalyst 137.

“I think marketing is a gap for a lot of businesses,” said co-founder Ryan Burgio.

Kitchener-Waterloo tends to focus on engineering and building things, but needs to do a better job when it comes to marketing, he said. “It’s not just about building something, but convincing the world it needs to buy in.”

John Whitney, the broker of record and CEO for Whitney Commercial Real Estate Services, said Catalyst 137 has everyone talking these days.

“It’s the most amazing project I’ve ever worked on, and I’ve been in this business a long time,” he said.

With several tenants yet to be announced, the building is already 62 per cent leased.

There are still units available ranging from 3,000 to 50,000 square feet. The floor plan can be broken up or pieced together based on needs, Whitney said.

The cost is fairly typical for a shared concept that includes access to loading docks and downtown amenities such as the Iron Horse Trail, he said.

“You can get cheaper space, but it will lack amenities this has,” said Whitney.

The key draw is the ecosystem and collaborative sharing of expertise.

Startups from all over the world are invited to benefit from centralized investment, consulting, manufacturing, engineering, government relations and other services.

SigmaPoint Technologies is one major player that will provide prototyping and is planning to expand from Cornwall, Ontario where it employs more than 300 people.

“I certainly look forward to supporting anybody and everybody that has a desire to have premium circuit boards built in Canada,” said Nevine Ishak, business development manager.

The reason for SigmaPoint’s decision to locate in the area is the local tech culture, she said.

“What better place to be? The innovation that we can support, the mentoring that we can give — I mean our whole goal here is to educate on design for manufacturability, design for test, design for velocity.”

Ishak said her company’s primary goal is to keep manufacturing onshore.

“We’ll start with an MPI prototype facility here where we turnaround boards in three days,” she said.

“Our quality is 100 per cent guaranteed, so we look forward to supporting all the OEMs in the marketplace.”

Kitchener hardware hub taking shape

News Nov 02, 2016 by Bill Jackson Kitchener Post

The circuit-board configuration of the courtyard isn’t just coincidence.   

“It’s taking the program that’s in here and bringing it out into the architecture,” said Feby Kuriakose of SRM Architects, the firm leading the design of Catalyst 137, the region’s newest cluster of innovation.

Announced earlier this year, the project will transform the former Dominion Tire plant at 137 Glasgow St. into a hub for burgeoning, high-tech hardware companies.

“If you look at the main outdoor plaza, it’s a giant circuit board,” Kuriakose said at a kick-off event last week. She drew parallels to the makeup of Communitech, which includes amenities to serve those inside as well as people off the street.

“This space is going to be what we’re calling the retail market,” Kuriakose said. “So this is going to be the space that people are going to congregate in. There’s going to be a café that opens out onto this space and also a restaurant and gym.”

To see it now, you’d hardly know it.

The 475,000-square-foot building, which was also a distribution centre for the former Kaufman Footwear company, is a shell of itself today. Even its latest visionary is bit skeptical at times.

“Every week that I come in here the building looks worse than the week before,” said Kurtis McBride, inviting laughter from his audience. “I’m told that’s progress.”

By summer of next year, McBride’s company Miovision will move into a 146,000-square foot space at the north end of the property.

The locally based company, specializing in traffic data collection and signal operations, currently employs about 300 people on Manitou Drive.

When McBride consulted his staff about a potential move, they told him to keep operations intact, including production, preferably in a downtown locale.

But such parameters proved to be a daunting task.

Until now, the need for manufacturing space and loading docks relegated many hardware companies to the outskirts of Kitchener-Waterloo. Software companies needing less space located in the city centre.

One glaring need for Miovision was ample space for parking.

McBride couldn’t find anything suitable except for the over-sized building on Glasgow Street, and knowing such a transformation would only be financially feasible with partners on board, he set out to prove there were others in town with similar needs.

A drop-in event drew 260 people, which McBride said was a testament to the number hardware companies that sprung from the decline of BlackBerry.

Frank Voisin of Voisin Capital jumped on board as an investor, and it became obvious that Catayst 137 was “something that needed to happen,” McBride said. “People voted with their feet.”

The whole point is to cluster everything hardware companies need to get to market quickly in the Internet-of-Things era, whether it’s help with prototyping, certification, IT and industrial design, or simply a place to eat and drink beer, he said.

“We’re going to put that all under one roof with the idea that locating here will give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

Some of the first tenants that will help to establish “an ecosystem of support services” were introduced last week.

Snap Pea will offer industrial design services and Swift Labs will provide RF testing and hardware design. FoxNet is installing the IT backbone into the building and Spin will provide integration and the visual interface that includes a “hackable streetscape.”

My Shop Makerspace provides shop equipment, from disk sanders and soldering irons to lathes and 3D printers, for tenant use. Now located at 44 Gaukel St., the company will be moving its entire shop into Catalyst 137.

“We are going to be a service to all those who move in, as well as public access as well,” said owner Josh Kubassek. “For less than the cost of leasing one machine, they can have access to every machine on our list.

“Think of it like a gym. You’re not going to go buy all those pieces of equipment. You’re going to go to a gym where someone else maintains it for you, somebody else trains you how to use it and somebody else makes sure you’re safe, and that’s what we do for technological equipment.”

Stryve Digital Marketing will also provide services, and has already assisted with the branding and website for Catalyst 137.

“I think marketing is a gap for a lot of businesses,” said co-founder Ryan Burgio.

Kitchener-Waterloo tends to focus on engineering and building things, but needs to do a better job when it comes to marketing, he said. “It’s not just about building something, but convincing the world it needs to buy in.”

John Whitney, the broker of record and CEO for Whitney Commercial Real Estate Services, said Catalyst 137 has everyone talking these days.

“It’s the most amazing project I’ve ever worked on, and I’ve been in this business a long time,” he said.

With several tenants yet to be announced, the building is already 62 per cent leased.

There are still units available ranging from 3,000 to 50,000 square feet. The floor plan can be broken up or pieced together based on needs, Whitney said.

The cost is fairly typical for a shared concept that includes access to loading docks and downtown amenities such as the Iron Horse Trail, he said.

“You can get cheaper space, but it will lack amenities this has,” said Whitney.

The key draw is the ecosystem and collaborative sharing of expertise.

Startups from all over the world are invited to benefit from centralized investment, consulting, manufacturing, engineering, government relations and other services.

SigmaPoint Technologies is one major player that will provide prototyping and is planning to expand from Cornwall, Ontario where it employs more than 300 people.

“I certainly look forward to supporting anybody and everybody that has a desire to have premium circuit boards built in Canada,” said Nevine Ishak, business development manager.

The reason for SigmaPoint’s decision to locate in the area is the local tech culture, she said.

“What better place to be? The innovation that we can support, the mentoring that we can give — I mean our whole goal here is to educate on design for manufacturability, design for test, design for velocity.”

Ishak said her company’s primary goal is to keep manufacturing onshore.

“We’ll start with an MPI prototype facility here where we turnaround boards in three days,” she said.

“Our quality is 100 per cent guaranteed, so we look forward to supporting all the OEMs in the marketplace.”

Kitchener hardware hub taking shape

News Nov 02, 2016 by Bill Jackson Kitchener Post

The circuit-board configuration of the courtyard isn’t just coincidence.   

“It’s taking the program that’s in here and bringing it out into the architecture,” said Feby Kuriakose of SRM Architects, the firm leading the design of Catalyst 137, the region’s newest cluster of innovation.

Announced earlier this year, the project will transform the former Dominion Tire plant at 137 Glasgow St. into a hub for burgeoning, high-tech hardware companies.

“If you look at the main outdoor plaza, it’s a giant circuit board,” Kuriakose said at a kick-off event last week. She drew parallels to the makeup of Communitech, which includes amenities to serve those inside as well as people off the street.

“This space is going to be what we’re calling the retail market,” Kuriakose said. “So this is going to be the space that people are going to congregate in. There’s going to be a café that opens out onto this space and also a restaurant and gym.”

To see it now, you’d hardly know it.

The 475,000-square-foot building, which was also a distribution centre for the former Kaufman Footwear company, is a shell of itself today. Even its latest visionary is bit skeptical at times.

“Every week that I come in here the building looks worse than the week before,” said Kurtis McBride, inviting laughter from his audience. “I’m told that’s progress.”

By summer of next year, McBride’s company Miovision will move into a 146,000-square foot space at the north end of the property.

The locally based company, specializing in traffic data collection and signal operations, currently employs about 300 people on Manitou Drive.

When McBride consulted his staff about a potential move, they told him to keep operations intact, including production, preferably in a downtown locale.

But such parameters proved to be a daunting task.

Until now, the need for manufacturing space and loading docks relegated many hardware companies to the outskirts of Kitchener-Waterloo. Software companies needing less space located in the city centre.

One glaring need for Miovision was ample space for parking.

McBride couldn’t find anything suitable except for the over-sized building on Glasgow Street, and knowing such a transformation would only be financially feasible with partners on board, he set out to prove there were others in town with similar needs.

A drop-in event drew 260 people, which McBride said was a testament to the number hardware companies that sprung from the decline of BlackBerry.

Frank Voisin of Voisin Capital jumped on board as an investor, and it became obvious that Catayst 137 was “something that needed to happen,” McBride said. “People voted with their feet.”

The whole point is to cluster everything hardware companies need to get to market quickly in the Internet-of-Things era, whether it’s help with prototyping, certification, IT and industrial design, or simply a place to eat and drink beer, he said.

“We’re going to put that all under one roof with the idea that locating here will give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

Some of the first tenants that will help to establish “an ecosystem of support services” were introduced last week.

Snap Pea will offer industrial design services and Swift Labs will provide RF testing and hardware design. FoxNet is installing the IT backbone into the building and Spin will provide integration and the visual interface that includes a “hackable streetscape.”

My Shop Makerspace provides shop equipment, from disk sanders and soldering irons to lathes and 3D printers, for tenant use. Now located at 44 Gaukel St., the company will be moving its entire shop into Catalyst 137.

“We are going to be a service to all those who move in, as well as public access as well,” said owner Josh Kubassek. “For less than the cost of leasing one machine, they can have access to every machine on our list.

“Think of it like a gym. You’re not going to go buy all those pieces of equipment. You’re going to go to a gym where someone else maintains it for you, somebody else trains you how to use it and somebody else makes sure you’re safe, and that’s what we do for technological equipment.”

Stryve Digital Marketing will also provide services, and has already assisted with the branding and website for Catalyst 137.

“I think marketing is a gap for a lot of businesses,” said co-founder Ryan Burgio.

Kitchener-Waterloo tends to focus on engineering and building things, but needs to do a better job when it comes to marketing, he said. “It’s not just about building something, but convincing the world it needs to buy in.”

John Whitney, the broker of record and CEO for Whitney Commercial Real Estate Services, said Catalyst 137 has everyone talking these days.

“It’s the most amazing project I’ve ever worked on, and I’ve been in this business a long time,” he said.

With several tenants yet to be announced, the building is already 62 per cent leased.

There are still units available ranging from 3,000 to 50,000 square feet. The floor plan can be broken up or pieced together based on needs, Whitney said.

The cost is fairly typical for a shared concept that includes access to loading docks and downtown amenities such as the Iron Horse Trail, he said.

“You can get cheaper space, but it will lack amenities this has,” said Whitney.

The key draw is the ecosystem and collaborative sharing of expertise.

Startups from all over the world are invited to benefit from centralized investment, consulting, manufacturing, engineering, government relations and other services.

SigmaPoint Technologies is one major player that will provide prototyping and is planning to expand from Cornwall, Ontario where it employs more than 300 people.

“I certainly look forward to supporting anybody and everybody that has a desire to have premium circuit boards built in Canada,” said Nevine Ishak, business development manager.

The reason for SigmaPoint’s decision to locate in the area is the local tech culture, she said.

“What better place to be? The innovation that we can support, the mentoring that we can give — I mean our whole goal here is to educate on design for manufacturability, design for test, design for velocity.”

Ishak said her company’s primary goal is to keep manufacturing onshore.

“We’ll start with an MPI prototype facility here where we turnaround boards in three days,” she said.

“Our quality is 100 per cent guaranteed, so we look forward to supporting all the OEMs in the marketplace.”