Creating an Automotive Cluster in Waterloo Region
Communitech's new AutoTech Peer2Peer group met for the first time on February 4. The idea for an automotive group came from a discussion we at TrustPoint Innovation had with colleagues Catherine Carroll from Sober Steering and Chris Mendes from CrossChasm Technologies. We were sharing information and offering advice on different trade shows and events to attend. The idea of sharing with a larger group of participants made sense.
The invitation for the first meet up was welcomed with a great deal of interest. The first meeting attracted representatives from 22 organizations from the area who have an interest or a stake in the auto sector. They represented a wide range of interests from consulting to building the sensors, electronics, hardware, and software for the new smart auto industry.
Participants started off by sharing their company's role in the industry and some of the challenges each faces. The discussion quickly evolved to how members could share resources and information to help each other.
Building an Automotive Cluster
What emerged was an excellent starting point for forming an automotive cluster in Waterloo region. The goal is to support, partner, and help one another find and take advantage of the opportunities in the automotive sector.
The advantages of building and identifying as a cluster include working together on projects, lobbying with a unified voice, and developing additional resources in the area.
Resources in Our Own Backyard
Waterloo region is fortunate to have excellent resources available for the developing auto tech market. For example, WatCAR at the University of Waterloo is a state-of-the art research facility. They're interested in partnering and making their facilities and expertise available to local companies to help advance innovation in the automotive industry.
In addition to having valuable research assets, a rapid prototyping lab, and a 3D printer available, WatCAR is also looking for opportunities for their graduate students to intern and put their expertise to work.
Government Looking for Ways to Help
Erin D'Alessandro, who represents the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Employment, and Infrastructure, encouraged the gathering to bring forward their ideas and challenges and involve the provincial government in their ventures.
“We want to know what the sector needs,” she said. “We're looking for ways to help companies overcome barriers.”
Join Us for Future Meet ups
Any local professional with a stake in the automotive industry is invited to join. The AutoTech P2P group plans to meet quarterly to continue the discussion and bring together the people who can help each other advance the automotive industry in the Kitchener-Waterloo area.