OCRI survey shows tech sector stability

OTTAWA – While reports of layoffs and corporate restructuring plans suggest hard times have put the pinch on the global tech industry as a whole, the same cannot be said for its constituents in Canada’s capital, according to an OCRI (Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation) report on Ottawa’s knowledge-based OCRI.jpgindustry. In fact, says OCRI, there’s been a 2% increase in the number of local companies over last year. However, the sector has seen a 4% drop in jobs. This is largely due to big, US companies like Dell, the PC maker that recently shuttered its call centre in Kanata, cutting staff across international lines as the credit crunch stateside has seen product makers take it on the chin. Though the survey speaks of stability in the local knowledge-based industry, there could be rough ground ahead as “the city enters a period of unprecedented uncertainty led by the global economic situation,” though “OCRI is optimistic that the city can continue to attract and retain critical talent and ultimately emerge from the worldwide financial downturn positioned for growth.” The 2008 year-end report puts the number of Ottawa’s knowledge-based companies at 1,850, up from 1,819 last year, while counting 79,132 employees, down from 81,910. Ninety new companies entered the marketplace but 55 were lost due to closure, merger or acquisition. The biggest winner was the cleantech sector, which gained 16 startups, an increase of 18.39% for a total of 103 operating in the Ottawa area. The contact/customer care centre sector was the hardest hit, losing 3,689 employees and six companies. 2008 was the first time in five years that Ottawa’s technology industry had a drop in employment, according to the survey.

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