Sybase Inc., an enterprise infrastructure and wireless software provider Thursday officially opened a 105,000-sq.-ft., three-story facility adjacent to the University of Waterloo.

The company said the move will enable it to consolidate

employees from three smaller facilities, strengthen its candidacy for research projects with the university and facilitate the courting of co-op students.

The state-of-the-art building is the first to open in the University of Waterloo Research + Technology Park, located on the academic institution’s north campus. Sybase subsidiaries iAnywhere Solutions Inc., Financial Fusion Inc. and other Sybase business units will use the new facility. In total, some 300 personnel will work in the building, which can actually accommodate 500 workers, capacity that will come in handy as Sybase ramps up its employee base.

“We’ve been in Waterloo since 1981,” said Brian Vink, vice-president of marketing for iAnywhere Solutions, a provider of mobile and embedded databases, mobile middleware, and mobile and remote device management. “We were actually spread out in three buildings in and about the Waterloo area. Now we get to consolidate.”

iAnywhere, a Sybase subsidiary formed in May 2000, traces its roots back to Watcom International Corp., founded in 1981 out of the research of the University of Waterloo’s Computer Systems Group. Watcom was acquired by Powersoft Corp. in 1994, and Sybase merged with Powersoft in 1995. Today’s announcement, according to Vink, further highlights the relationship Sybase and its subsidiaries have with the university and with the Waterloo, Ont., community.

“It’s a natural evolution of the relationship we’ve had with the university. The relationship started over 20 years ago,” said Vink, adding that the academic institution had discussed its intentions of setting up an innovative research park. “We recognize this as a culmination of the relationship.”

One of the people who most supported the concept of the innovative park, said Carol A. Stewart, manager of business development at the University of Waterloo Research + Technology Park, was Terry Stepien, president of Sybase Canada and iAnywhere Solutions.

“Terry Stepien has been a champion of the research and technology park, throwing his hat into the ring,” said Stewart, who joined Watcom in the early stages of the firm’s database business. She added that the plan is to eventually have a group of 12 to 15 companies in the research park.

According to Vink, being right on the university’s doorstep will better position the company as a contender for coveted research projects. “On the research side,” he said, “just the physical presence of our building allows us to be considered for outstanding research projects.”

But for a company that attracts many of the university’s co-op students, establishing an onsite presence also presents a golden opportunity, he said. The physical closeness, he continued, will make it easier to entice co-op students.

Meanwhile, John Morris, media relations officer at the University of Waterloo, underlined the importance of having Sybase aboard as the first of what will eventually be at least a dozen companies located in the research park. “Sybase is the first tenant, the anchor tenant of the park, so it’s a big move,” he said. “Hopefully it will attract others.”

The University of Waterloo Research + Technology Park, billed as a centre where innovation will be fostered and new business ventures will be supported, is the result of a $214-million partnership among the University of Waterloo, Region of Waterloo, City of Waterloo, Province of Ontario, Government of Canada, Communitech and Canada’s Technology Triangle. The research park can accommodate 1.2 million sq. ft. of office space on 120 acres.

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