FedDev Ontario investment drives next level innovation at world-class test environment in Ottawa

News release

$7 million brings enhanced capabilities to the first integrated test facility of its kind in North America, helping SMEs commercialize transformational technologies and create 200 jobs

October 13, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario

With decades of globally recognized strengths in communications technology, a highly skilled talent pool and unique network infrastructure, Ottawa is a leader in autonomy and mobility innovation. These transformational technologies, including connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV), intelligent transportation and smart city solutions, have the potential to make our world safer and more efficient, while also offering new economic opportunities and environmental benefits, and creating good jobs for Canadians.

Safe development of new technologies

As we move towards a more connected future, testing and validation of these technologies is critical to safe and secure implementation and adoption. Led by Invest Ottawa, Area X.O (formerly known as Ottawa L5) provides a world-class test environment that enables researchers, entrepreneurs and businesses to create, commercialize and adopt breakthough innovations in mobility, autonomy and connectivity. Comprised of a public and private test track, Area X.O is equipped with advanced telecommunications and networking infrastructure that make it the first integrated test facility of its kind in North America.

Investing in the next generation of technology solutions

Building on this solid foundation, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, along with the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, today announced a FedDev Ontario investment of $7 million for Invest Ottawa to bring new, globally unique capabilities to Area X.O and create 200 skilled jobs and maintain 230 jobs in the region.

In collaboration with the City of Ottawa and major industry partners, Invest Ottawa is implementing advanced network technologies at the test sites, as well as an additive manufacturing (3D printing) platform for specialized prototyping. The project includes a new, fully equipped mobile command centre that can bring a secure network to any location, without external connectivity. This will support rural innovation by allowing small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in smaller communities across the region test and validate their solutions right in their own location. The project also creates a cybersecurity innovation lab to help SMEs proactively identify vulnerabilities and enhance security of their technologies.

These enhanced capabilities will give SMEs on-the-spot access to the tools they need to accelerate development of their next generation technologies across many sectors, including telecom, smart agriculture, defence, security and public safety, unmanned aerial vehicles and smart cities. The project will help these companies to increase competitiveness in the global marketplace, while the globally unique technologies enabled by FedDev Ontario’s support are expected to attract investment, companies and talent to the region, driving economic growth.

The Government of Canada is committed to helping businesses to adapt for the future and thrive. Through strategic investments like this, the government is building on regional strengths to help secure our position as a world leader in innovative technologies and create the right conditions for growth in the post-COVID-19 economy.


“While we fight against the global pandemic, we are also focused on the future, and on building back better and stronger. The leadership shown by Invest Ottawa will not only help us keep pace, but will help to keep Ontario and Canada on the cutting-edge of mobility innovation. Today’s investment from FedDev Ontario to bring globally unique capabilities to Area X.O will provide businesses with the tools they need to bring their next generation solutions to the world and create the skilled jobs of tomorrow.”
- The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“The enhanced capabilities at Invest Ottawa’s Area X.O, made possible by support from FedDev Ontario, will support the next generation of digital infrastructure and help to grow our regional economy and create good local jobs.”
- The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre

“Area X.O builds on our inception as the Ottawa L5 Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Test Facility and establishes a bold vision: to unleash and realize the potential, power and impact of visionary technologies to improve our world and human lives. Area X.O will enable diverse innovators and firms to develop, test, commercialize and export their solutions across many high-growth global markets. These include smart mobility, advanced communications, smart agriculture, defence and security, and smart cities. This critical federal investment will help us to achieve this vision, and increase the competitiveness of the companies we serve, and Canada’s economy more broadly.”
- Michael Tremblay, President and CEO, Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards

“I am thrilled about FedDev Ontario's investment in Area X.O. This funding enables new capabilities for innovators and firms at the Ottawa Smart Farm located in the heart of this facility. This support for new precision agriculture and other future technologies in the nation's capital will further strengthen our capacity as a global technology hub, and, more importantly, it will help drive our city’s long-term economic recovery."
His Worship Jim Watson, Mayor of the City of Ottawa

Quick facts

  • Invest Ottawa is the lead economic development agency for advancing knowledge-based industries in Canada’s capital, facilitating economic growth and job creation.

  • FedDev Ontario’s funding is expected to help 35 small- and medium-sized enterprises to advance emerging technologies.

  • This non-repayable FedDev Ontario contribution of $7 million will leverage nearly $10 million in new communications technology and expertise from industry partners, including Blackberry QNX, Nokia and Ericsson Canada.

  • Ontario was the first province in Canada to allow the testing of automated vehicles on its roads, with Ottawa leading the way as the first Canadian city to test an on-street autonomous vehicle communicating with live city infrastructure.

  • In April 2019, FedDev Ontario announced $16.9 million for Invest Ottawa as part of a $52.4 million investment to create the Scale-Up Platform, which will help 30 Ontario companies scale up and achieve revenues of $100 million or more by 2024, as well as provide services to thousands of others.

  • Invest Ottawa is also one of the partners delivering support for small businesses to adopt digital technologies to recover from the pandemic and emerge stronger, as part of FedDev Ontario’s $42.5-milion investment in the Digital Main Street Platform.

Associated links


Catherine Mounier-Desrochers
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Media Relations
FedDev Ontario

Toll Free: 1-866-593-5505
Website: www.FedDevOntario.gc.ca

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