September 19, 2018 11:01 pm

Blackberry, L-SPARK announce joint mentorship program for small Canadian tech companies

At a meeting held by the Kanata North BIA on Monday, the organization announced exponential growth in Ottawa's tech sector.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
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Blackberry QNX and tech “accelerator” L-SPARK are making it easier for up-and-coming tech companies in Canada to thrive in a booming tech world.

The two Canadian companies, both located in Kanata, announced Wednesday that they have partnered up to help small and medium-sized tech enterprises to grow using Blackberry’s QNX technology, dubbed the “accelerator program.”

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“Blackberry is proud to play an integral role in the growth of Canada’s innovation economy,” said Blackberry QNX’s vice-president Grant Courville. “The new accelerator program is a great opportunity for us to better interact and collaborate with Canadian software companies and help bring to market innovative products.”

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Essentially how the program works is QNX and L-SPARK, with the help of the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program and its advisers, will reach out to companies who could benefit from working with QNX’s technology. They will then mentor these companies and give them assistance in implementing the tech into their product, at no monetary cost. Six companies will ultimately be chosen and will receive one-on-one training from QNX.

The companies will not have to give up any equity and are free to shop the product to anyone of interest once it’s finished, including QNX themselves.

According to Leo Lax, executive managing director at L-SPARK, the program will be about six months long and the six companies chosen will hopefully be the ones who they believe will have the most success with the help of Blackberry’s recognizable brand.

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“What we are looking for here is to actually create a mechanism that by which the global capabilities and reach of Blackberry and the innovation and enthusiasm and passion of these early-stage companies can come together,” said Lax. “L-SPARK acts as the facilitator, as the glue, as the catalyst that takes that capability and brings it forward.”

QNX’s tech has been used in far more than just cellphones. According to the company, their system can be found in autonomous cars, trains and traffic lights and is used by companies such as Audi, Lockheed Martin and General Electric.

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