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Networks of Centres of Excellence Annual Meeting

Digital Economy and ICT Showcase

Tom Jenkins

Master of Ceremonies: Tom Jenkins

Research and innovation in digital media, and information and communications technologies improves efficiency and productivity in all sectors of the economy. Presentations from six companies that partner with the Canadian Digital Media Network, Wavefront and the Graphics, Animation and New Media Canada network illustrated how NCE funding helped them generate new breakthroughs, drive productivity or advance their company’s position on the world stage. The session also offered leaders from other networks and centres an opportunity to explore how they could benefit from partnering with Canada’s world-class expertise in the digital economy.

Master of Ceremonies Tom Jenkins noted that the productivity gap between Canada and the U.S. has increased over the past three decades, three-quarters of which is attributed to a lack of investment in ICT. Canada needs to maintain the capacity to deliver the technology once business makes the decision to invest. “Innovation is a contact sport,” he said, adding that the digital world continues to evolve rapidly, with steadily shorter time frames for product development and lifespan.


  • Canadian Tire Corporation
  • Cyborg Trading Systems
  • Funcom
  • Side Effects Software
  • Colony Networks
  • YOUi Labs

Key points

  • In pursuit of its goal to be an industry leader in integrating digital technologies into its network of 1,700 retail stores, Canadian Tire Corporation opened the Canadian Tire Innovation Centre at the Communitech Hub, one of the nodes of the Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN). The centre’s location allows the company to take full advantage of the digital media ecosystem created by CDMN, developing more creative solutions in a shorter time frame and allowing it to identify and pursue new partnership opportunities.
  • Cyborg Trading Systems develops automated trading technology for global financial firms, including banks, hedge funds and brokerages. To help it grow and establish an international presence, the company participated in CDMN’s Soft-Landing Program, which helped it secure $2 million in funding from investors and create an office in the heart of the New York financial district.
  • A long-time developer of MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) games, Funcom partnered with the Graphics, Animation and New Media Canada (GRAND) network to successfully pilot a unique internship opportunity that complements academic training with high quality real-world work experience. Funcom brought 10 students together in the summer of 2012 for a 10-week intensive development project. Mentored by senior designers, the team adapted a creative concept and turned it into a working prototype of a game.
  • Side Effects Software’s Houdini software has been used in the large majority of recent films that won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Work done in partnership with GRAND researchers has enabled the company to continue pushing the technology envelope, most recently developing real time special effects technology that will allow directors to see the impact of visual effects instantly while they are shooting a scene.
  • Colony Networks produces software that monitors users and devices on networks, and quickly reports the source of any failures. By locating itself in the Wavefront Accelerator Centre, the company has benefitted from Wavefront’s business development services as well as the proximity to potential new partners and customers. Participation in the WaveConnect program has introduced the company to key decision makers and new customers, establishing valuable overseas contacts in about half the time it could have done on its own.
  • YOUi Labs provides services and technology that offers industry-leading graphics performance to electronics manufacturers. During a challenging stage in its growth, the company turned to Wavefront for help. The results included receiving a valuable meeting with the CEO of Sony Corporation through the Market Linkages program, and getting access to funding and talent through Wavefront's Trusted Partner network.