Canada has traditionally been exceptionally strong in the global telecommunications equipment market, in both software and hardware. We have created strong global players, such as Blackberry, OpenText, and Nortel, and world leading global communication companies including, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson and Juniper, have substantial R&D centres in Canada. If we are to keep pace globally, we need to foster distinct, comparative advantages, premised on bolstering innovation and commercialization. We must focus on entrepreneurial development, knowledge creation, and “up-skilling” our work force in the new technology areas of Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV).

We have a rich talent base and many serial entrepreneurs ready to create innovative products, applications and services. Like most countries, it is estimated that 80-85% of all companies in Canada employ less than 25 people. There is a unique opportunity to grow these innovative small-to-medium sized companies (SMEs) as the industry undergoes fundamental change driven by the convergence of all content, voice, video, data, mobility and the exponential growth of cloud-based applications as the world moves towards the “Internet of Everything”.

One of the key areas that we focus on at CENGN is providing SMEs with all the tools they need to grow and expand their business. Our model for commercialization is completely industry-driven, finding the best companies to solve real world problems. Commercialization activity supported by CENGN is directed by our consortium of world leading industry players who have the receptor capacity and expertise to commercialize the next-generation network technologies. Our model matches SMEs with our world leading companies, and provide the expertise to validate, test and commercialize the new products or services.

In an effort to further foster this collaboration, the CENGN consortium identified 7 key priority areas, in the Next-Generation Networks (NGN) space, that are in need of novel solutions. We then encouraged SMEs to submit proposals with innovative ideas on how to address the issues within these priorities. For 2015, the focus areas are: Software Defined Network (SDN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and SD WAN, Internet of Things (IoT), Data Centre/ Cloud, Network Transport, Security, Network Applications and Network Mobility.

One of the key tools that CENGN is providing to advance these projects, is access to a real world multi-vendor test and verification environment. New products and services must be able to operate over networks that contain network hardware elements from a number of different suppliers. This presents a challenge to all players in the sector, but in particular to SMEs who have neither the knowledge nor the funds to replicate this environment. To address this interoperability issue, CENGN and our partners have created a unique, sustainable physical and virtual multi-vendor commercialization, test, certification, and validation platform—not available anywhere else in the world. It provides significant market advantage by accelerating product research and introduction, and reduces product development time and cost.

Since January of 2015, we have had over 100 companies submit proposals using our online application system. We are in the process of launching the first projects and expect to see tangible results in the Fall. Furthermore, we look forward to showcasing our success at the SDN and OpenFlow World Congress, October 12-16, in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Canadian talent built the last global network, it is time for us to once again lead, build and develop the network technologies of the future.

Kelly Daize
VP Business Development and Marketing, CENGN