BlackBerry and Telus partner with Ottawa-based accelerator for new IoT-focused program

Ottawa-based software as a service (SaaS) accelerator program L-Spark Corp. is launching a new Secure IoT Accelerator program, working with Telus Corp, BlackBerry Ltd. and Solace, the group announced on Wednesday.

The program will work with Canadian ventures developing Internet of Things (IoT) products and services. With communications vendor Cisco Systems Inc. predicting the global IoT market will be worth $1.1 trillion USD by 2021, there’s plenty of incentive to develop more advanced and secure IoT technologies.

The accelerator will not provide any funding to firms selected to take part, according to Leo Lax, the executive managing director at L-Spark. Nor do they have to pay any fee to take part or share any of the intellectual property they develop. But they do have to put their R&D resources towards developing a proof of concept on a hardware and software platform being provided by the three technology firms partnered with the accelerator.

“We expect these companies to recognize the advantage of being first movers in this market and use this platform to develop their product,” Lax says in an interview. “It’s a computing platform that has secure connectivity to the Telus LTE-M network and will allow the applications to be used by end-users around the globe.”

Telus is providing connectivity for the platform. BlackBerry is providing special software to enable delivery and management of the application in a secure fashion. Solace provides an event broker platform that will allow the applications to communicate with low latency.

An accelerator by Canadian firms, for Canadian firms

“All three companies are global in nature. All three companies are delivering first-mover technologies in their specific area. All three are based in Canada,” Lax says. “It’s a made-in-Canada accelerator for a made in Canada company.”

The accelerator concept was born out of conversations between L-Spark and Telus, Lax says. As the needs and features that participant companies required became clear, BlackBerry and Solace were identified as partners. L-Spark also collaborates with BlackBerry on another accelerator project focused on developing technology with its QNX automotive platform.

BlackBerry has been developing its “enterprise of things” platform with a security focus. It also licenses its BlackBerry Secure Integrated Manufacturing Service to other hardware manufacturers, as a way to ensure no outside actor has tampered with a device. If an authentication check with Waterloo, Ont. fails, then the device doesn’t boot.

Telus offers its LTE-M network as a service tailored to Internet of Things devices, which typically don’t require high bandwidth, but do require low latency. Telus will also offer its IoT Cybersecurity services to the accelerator participants. Solace offers a data distribution platform that is used by enterprise clients to move hundreds of billions of events per day.

All three firms will provide mentors to companies selected for the program, which need not relocate to Ottawa to participate, Lax explains. If a firm is already operating in Ottawa or is agile enough to move there, they’re welcome at L-Spark. But if they’re already established elsewhere in Canada, they can work with the accelerator in a more virtual fashion.

Apply before end of April

“We’re looking for firms that are working on the leading edge of the environment,” Lax says. “There’s a huge benefit in using the same acceleration concept to test and validate and implement these capabilities.”

Applications for the program open today, Lax says. Interested firms will have until the end of April to apply. During this time, L-Spark and accelerator partners will be conducting a roadshow across the country to engage with interested firms on a more direct basis.

Following that, a bootcamp-style hackathon will host about 12 finalists. A selection committee will judge their presentations and select four to six program participants.

“The best of the best ideally are going to make it,” he says.

The accelerator program will begin in June.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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