Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa: “We Roll Out the Red Carpet, Not the Red Tape”

With an aim to create greater level of synergies between businesses in India and Ottawa, Canada – Jim Watson, Mayor, of the City of Ottawa, Canada is here in India with a select trade delegation comprising of companies operating in various sectors including technology and communications.

In an exclusive discussion with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com the Mayor of Ottawa speaks about some of the big advantages that the city is offering for businesses today and how it is encouraging future-proof innovation.

As part of this initiative, what are some of the core activities that you are doing?

Ottawa is the Hitech hub of Canada. We are here to our first ever city of Ottawa trade delegation in India.

We have a focus on a number of sectors in the economy that we are promoting and Hitech, Cleantech as well as education and also tourism.

The country’s 150th birthday is next year, we have a whole set of celebrations for attracting more number of people from around the world.

We have a specific interest in India because we have a very successful Indo-Canadian Community in Ottawa. We consider ourselves as Silicon Valley, North – because of the high number of employees working in the hitech segment. We have about 70,000 people in this sector.

What are some of the big advantages that you can offer to companies ready to invest in Ottawa?

There are a couple of clear advantages – one being situated in the nation’s capital we have close proximity to all the regulatory agencies to get issues resolved very quickly – we also have the diplomatic community with over 130 embassy high commissions – so that’s a good liaison for the technology sector.

We have four very successful educational institutions – all have technology schools within them and they are attracting record number of foreign students.

Is there any single window clearance agency that can work with companies wanting to come to Ottawa?

Yes, we do have that. We have Economic Development and Innovation department and we have an economic development arm that is run by the private sector called ‘Invest Ottawa’ and both these agencies have one window port of entry.

Our philosophy is we roll out the red carpet and not the red tape.

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world today. And we want to synergize our close cooperation towards accelerating innovation in various sectors.

The city of Ottawa launched the innovation pilot program, that lets the company to commercially test their technology using the city of Ottawa infrastructure at no cost. This is a great initiative and we are quite proud of it.

What are some of the trends that you see happening on the innovation side which are important today for the student communities?

We have a great educational system in Canada –which ensures that the students are not only learning inside the classroom but the system also makes sure that the students are learning outside the classroom.

We have a number of very successful new companies – such as ‘Shopify’ which is a company that started off with two people and now I think close to 700 people. Mitel is another great example of how successful companies are performing on global turf. Mitel has just acquired a large company – Polycom.

All the major research in the telecom sector in Canada – 90 per cent of it takes place in Ottawa. Global organizations such as Huawei, Genband, Ciena, Ericsson, IBM – all of their 5G research is taking place in Ottawa.