City of Ottawa chosen for Canada’s first China-backed technology incubation centre – $10 million of funding to start

With creation of the ZDG Ottawa International Incubation Centre, China recognizes City of Ottawa’s leadership on innovation, provides funding and support for Ottawa start-ups to expand in China

Ottawa, Ontario – Dec. 11, 2012 – Today Ottawa leaps to the forefront of China’s knowledge-based investment strategy with the announcement that the $11 billion Zhongguancun Development Group (ZDG) has chosen Ottawa as the second site in North America, and the only site in Canada, for its technology incubation centre. Funded with an initial $10 million, the ZDG Ottawa International Incubation Centre is a partnership between Invest Ottawa and ZDG, a state-owned enterprise founded in April 2010.

ZDG has been searching for a second innovation center in North America after the successful launch of a similar centre in Silicon Valley last year. “Ottawa is one of the major innovation centres in the world, and Invest Ottawa has established many years of good cooperation relationship with Zpark. These are the main reasons that convinced us to choose Ottawa as the best location in Canada for the ZDG Ottawa International Incubation Centre,” said Qiang Xu, General Manager of ZDG. “We look forward to working together with our partners at Invest Ottawa to introduce the city’s best technology companies to our vibrant market.”

To be initially housed in 1,600 sq. ft. at Invest Ottawa’s Aberdeen St. headquarters and staffed by a Chinese Director and three locally-hired staff, Ottawa’s newest tech incubator will provide funding and support to Ottawa-based technology startups wishing to enter the rapidly growing Chinese market. With guidance from Invest Ottawa to identify startups for funding, the ZDG Ottawa International Incubation Centre will help finance China-based R&D, marketing and office expansion.

"This is another important step forward for Ottawa’s economic development – further strengthening our relationship with a key market and sector,” said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. “I’m pleased to see this significant foreign investment in Ottawa’s innovative technology sector.”

“We’re treating this as a very ambitious start-up enterprise in its own right. ZDG has a plan to invest up to $1.5 billion worldwide over the next five years, and we see today’s $10 million announcement as a starting point for Ottawa,” said Invest Ottawa CEO Bruce Lazenby. “This market expansion capital is very welcome, and our expectation is that our China-focused companies will prove themselves quickly and attract even greater investment and opportunity in the years to come.”

ZDG has a registered capital base of $1.9 billion with total assets of $11 billion and was created in Beijing by the Municipal government of Beijing, and located in the heart of Zhonguancun Innovation Park (Zpark). It has 15 subsidiary companies covering three main areas of business: equity investment in high-tech companies; investment in the infrastructure of high-tech industrial parks such as building incubation centres and developing science parks in Beijing; and financing for high-tech companies. Established in 2010, ZDG has so far made equity investment in more than 80 companies/projects, and has plans to invest up to $1.5 billion in the next five years in technology companies.

ZDG targets technology sectors including but not limited to: information and communications Technology, life sciences, new energy and new materials. It has international cooperation agreements with major countries/regions that have innovative capabilities including Silicon Valley, Israel, Finland, Taiwan and now Ottawa. In addition to the ZDG Ottawa International Incubation Centre, ZDG has two other overseas incubation centres in Finland and Silicon Valley.

China is the world’s number one market for commodities such as nickel, copper and lead, number one for heavy manufactured goods such as automobiles, and this year will also become the globe’s largest market for high tech devices like smartphones. As it prepares to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest economy in as little as four years, China is reaching out to leading centres of knowledge-based industry to help build its prosperity. A working relationship with Ottawa ­– a city with the stated goal to be the best place in Canada to start and grow a knowledge-based business – is a key step forward.  

About Invest Ottawa
Invest Ottawa delivers expert-oriented economic development programs and initiatives that increase entrepreneurial momentum, wealth and jobs in the City of Ottawa and its surrounding region. Its goal is to make Ottawa the best place in Canada to start and grow a knowledge-based business. Invest Ottawa services include startup incubation and mentorship, acceleration for existing companies, global business attraction and local business retention, targeted sector development, commercialization, and marketing Ottawa’s diversified economy and high quality of life.