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Kanata North Business Association: Celebrating high-technology geekiness


Kanata North was once celebrated as Canada’s high-technology core.  But with the high-tech meltdown of 2000, Kanata North lost its lustre.  International companies moved out, local start-ups closed and the area’s famous Golden Mile tarnished.  For the next 15 years, the area was seen as staid, old and boring.  New start-ups were looking to downtown Ottawa as the cool place to be, while centres such as Waterloo and Vancouver were the new high-tech centre of gravity. Companies no longer looked at Kanata North and attracting talent was very difficult.

The new Kanata North Business Association set out to change all that, starting with a place brand to help tell a story that made the area distinct and relevant to the new generation of high-tech leaders and talent. It was time to shift the centre of gravity back to where it belonged – Kanata North.

Extensive research revealed an important insight:  the seriously deep, complex and foundational high technology in Canada happens mostly in Kanata North. From telecommunications and photonics to networks, high-tech’s backbone is grown there. That insight, further probed and expanded, translated into a compellingly distinct position:  Kanata North is serious high technology for people serious about high technology. The positioning rested on four important pillars:

  1. The work ethos of Kanata North is professional, serious and focused.
  2. The people working in Kanata North are proud to be geeks. Kanata North is a culture of geekiness.
  3. That proud geekiness was beginning to generate a vibrating energy of innovation and potential.
  4. The resurgence of high-technology investment and success was starting to bring new business opportunities to the region.

The destination brand and supporting long-term campaign had a significant impact over the next three years as the number of high-technology firms in Kanata North doubled and the area’s economic impact on Canada’s GDP almost doubled from $7.8 billion in 2015 to $13 billion in 2018 (study by Doyletech Corp.).


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