Gone, going, hey wait a minute!

By Tony Patterson

The breakfast meeting that Ontario's Centres of Excellence (OCE) held here this week was a smashing success. It drew hundreds from the local tech business community. It was also a crashing bore and a strong indicator of just how Toronto-centric this Ottawa-inspired provincial agency has become. The principal speakers spoke too long and were apologists for their special interests (IBM and The Conference Board). But the real insult came in the form of an MC imported for this, t-patterson.jpgthe first in OCE's 'Mind to Market' series to be held in Ottawa. All the earlier ones of course, though clearly mirroring Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI)'s hugely successful and long running Technology Executive Breakfasts, have been held in Toronto. The fellow who stood up to introduce the speaker was, get this, the CEO of the Toronto Region Research Alliance (TRRA), an organization about as friendly to the Ottawa technology community as Air Canada is to WestJet. OCE is now comprised of five research centres, two of which are located in Ottawa, including the centre formerly known as CITO (Communications and Information Ontario), which was spawned out of OCRI (then the Ottawa-Carleton Research Institute, but still OCRI). There's a very good argument that OCRI gave rise to the OCEs which in turn gave rise to dozens of federal Networks of Centres of Excellence. NCEs were front and centre in the federat Science and Technology Strategy released by Prime Minister Harper in May at — not that anybody noticed — the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo. As chance would have it, Waterloo falls within the TRRA. Now did I say that two of the five OCE centres are in Ottawa? That was the case until a couple of months ago when the longtime head of the Photonics Centre, Dr. Gerard Lynch, retired. It was Dr. Lynch who insisted that the centre come here after a few years in a university setting in Toronto, because Ottawa is where Ontario's photonics industry is clustered. His successor has in fact been named but no announcement has come forth, perhaps because Don Wilford, who was 2-i/c to Dr. Lynch, operates from Mississauga (also part of the TRRA, bien sur). He doesn't plan to move so, inevitably, the photonics mountain will move to him.. Then there will be one, the original, left here. For now.

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