Everyone thinks of Ottawa as a government town, probably because the National Capital Region is headquarters for most Canadian federal government departments. Some may be aware that Ottawa is also a global technology hub and home to research and development facilities for many multinationals.

Not everyone is aware that Ottawa is also home to more than 300 companies in the aerospace, defence and security sector. Canadian firms are among the best in the world in applying advanced technology and know-how to help keep people safe and secure. Ottawa offers a dynamic environment where ground-breaking knowledge and hard-earned expertise from both the public and private sectors combine to produce world-class aerospace, defence and security goods and services. Ottawa-based companies have capabilities across the whole range of defence and security technologies.

Ottawa has a long history in technology innovation. Companies supply everything from training and simulation to unmanned aerial vehicles and from explosives detection and protection to maritime surveillance. There is a strong cyber security cluster and many companies focused on command and control systems, most likely due to the proximity to federal government departments and research labs and cross-fertilization from Ottawa’s well-established wireless and telecom sector. The cyber security public-private partnership is a good illustration of this dynamic.

The federal government remains the largest single buyer of technologies related to the defence and security sector. There are over 13 federal government departments involved in public safety and security and the nation’s defence and security agencies are headquartered here.

As a result, Ottawa is the centre where industry and government come together to help define, build and support the aerospace, defence and security sector on a federal level. It is also a major reason why many international aerospace, defence and security companies have established their Canadian headquarters in Ottawa.

Having larger companies such as Lockheed Martin, Thales, General Dynamics, Rockwell Collins and Boeing in Ottawa also supports smaller companies that partner with the larger primes, both for Canadian requirements and for international projects.

Omniglobe Solutions is an example of a small Ottawa-based company that has successfully partnered with General Dynamics in Ottawa to win business internationally. In addition, the General Dynamics Canada EDGE centre in the city’s west end partners with, and showcases, technologies of several small companies via their in-house demonstration facility.

There are many other examples of companies founded in Ottawa that continue to use the city as a base for international expansion.

GasTOPS began their business in Ottawa because their major clients were the Department of National Defence and the National Research Council of Canada. The company has grown and continues to expand into industrial and defence markets worldwide. According to CEO Dave Muir, Ottawa has provided them with an exceptional environment for business growth.

Calian was founded in Ottawa in 1982 and is now one of Canada’s largest defence firms providing training, O+M, health and IT services to the military as well as contract manufacturing and systems engineering. Calian employs over 2,300 people, with projects that span domestic ?and international markets.

ING Robotic Aviation developed their skills through extensive operational surveillance work with the Canadian military. From these beginnings, they are now providing a range of services to public safety and commercial customers worldwide.

In addition to proximity to federal government clients, companies also benefit from access to the research capabilities and facilities of our local universities and national labs. Ottawa has the second highest concentration of scientists and engineers in North America (after California’s Silicon Valley) and the most highly educated and highly trained workforce in Canada.

World leaders such as Thales and General Dynamics have established a presence in Ottawa, invested in research and development, and have commercialized new technologies which are now being exported internationally, from Canada.

Ottawa is a G8 capital with 130 foreign embassies, with various defence and security attaches located in the city. Invest Ottawa, the City’s primary partner in economic development delivery, has built linkages with Canadian and international partners. The organization works closely with its partners, all three levels of government, post-secondary and research institutions, business agencies and associations, and talent attraction and retention organizations, in Canada and Internationally.

The aerospace, defence and security sector is recognized as a key sector for Ottawa. Invest Ottawa delivers initiatives to help grow and support the sector. We provide tailored information, introductions and assist companies of all sizes, from start-ups to multinationals, wishing to establish a presence in Ottawa or expand internationally. For more information on the opportunities available in Ottawa visit investottawa.ca.


Photo - Bernadette Terry web
Bernadette Terry is the senior business development manager, Defence & Security, for Invest Ottawa. Prior to joining its Invest & Trade Group in September 2012, she worked on behalf of the U.K. government Organization for International Trade & Investment, specializing in the defence and security sector.