The Smart Toronto Technology Alliance Wednesday officially opened the Toronto Centre for Technology, located in the city’s southwest end on Fraser Avenue. The location will combine a “”laboratory”” where member companies can work on projects

side by side with an incubation unit managed by the Exceler@tor at the University of Toronto’s Innovations Foundation.

Cindy Pearson, the association’s president, called the Toronto Technology Centre a “”go-to”” place where Canadians will be able to see innovation first-hand. The lab portion of the space will accommodate up to 12 companies at a time, she said.

“”One of the great challenges we heard was that companies are developing applications and you don’t know if they will integrate (with various hardware),”” she said. “”Sometimes it’s a case of getting them in touch with one another.””

In some cases, companies in the lab might be working on a common software or hardware platform, Pearson said, and could assist each other in terms of development. Companies in the lab will be rotated on a quarterly basis.

While a number of companies, including Rogers Communications and mBiztech were exhibiting products at the centre’s opening, the second floor incubation area is still under construction. “”Please don’t go up there,”” Pearson told the packed crowd of about 250 people who showed up for the opening. “”That’s like a messy closet upstairs.””

Bobby Eisenberg, president of York Heritage Properties which owns the building, said it was ironic to see the influx of technology professionals coming into what used to be an old carpet factory. “”At the turn of the last century, you’d see 1,000 people working on looms and spinning machines,”” he said. “”Now they’re working on software and circuit boards.””

Besides the development of new products and emerging companies, Pearson said the centre would be host to a series of workshops for its members. Smart Toronto merged late last year with the Liberty Village Alliance, which is best known for the annual Gigathon conference.

Jim Flaherty, Ontario’s Minister of Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation, awarded the association a $275,000 grant under the Interactive Digital Media Growth Fund. In lieu of the usual ribbon cutting ceremony, Flaherty “”opened”” the centre by clicking on a mouse that launched a brief video clip advertising the centre’s logo.

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