ITAC Online - The Microelectronics Issue - October 2011
In ITAliCs

Microelectronics driving Canadian innovation

ITAC has represented the microelectronics industry since 2003.  This month, we conducted the 17th annual edition of the Executive Forum on Microelectronics.  It was, as usual, an excellent opportunity to catch up with colleagues from this dynamic part of the Canadian ICT scene.  It was also an opportunity to reflect on the changing face of microelectronics in Canada.  Ten years ago, it was an industry mainly focused on designing components for our telecommunications sector.  This year, the conversation was all about energy... the energy sector as an opportunity and ways to reduce the power consumption of systems.

I look forward to this forum every year.  It provides a great opportunity to hear from some of the most dynamic entrepreneurs and researchers in Canada.  If you missed it, the stories in this issue will give you a flavour of our forum.

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Meet the Chair of ITAC’s SMC: Ken Wagner

Ken Wagner, Principal Engineer, PMC-Sierra Ken Wagner, Principal Engineer, PMC-Sierra

For Ken Wagner, Principal Engineer with PMC-Sierra, becoming Chair of ITAC’s Strategic Microelectronics Council earlier this year was largely about giving back.

In the early days of his career, Ken spent many years south of the border working with a variety of organizations throughout the US, from Silicon Valley to New York.  He even moved to Washington, where he spent 1992 as an IEEE/AAAS Congressional Fellow in Science and Technology.

A Canadian-born dual citizen, Ken returned to Canada in 2000 to take a senior management position with PMC running the company’s Ottawa site.  Initially, the move was to be close to his fiancée who was working in Ottawa at the time.  But as time went by, Ken realized working with PMC was a perfect fit.

“I’m still with PMC for a number of reasons,” Ken said.  “First of all, we have a great track record in terms of chip execution.  We successfully take on very complex products, so the work is always very difficult and challenging.  I also enjoy working with my colleagues tremendously.  My teammates are all very highly accomplished engineers.  Finally, the company has given me the opportunity to take on many different roles and really make the most of my knowledge and skill base.”

And so it’s time to give back – give back to the country that gave him so much in terms of the education and opportunities that allowed him to build his career.  Ken says his new position as Chair of the SMC will provide him with the necessary platform to help face the key issues that challenge the Canadian microelectronics industry.

“I think I bring some unique experience to the table having worked in the US – notably, Silicon Valley – as I’m reasonably familiar with how things work there in terms of research, funding and so on.  Having also worked with the US government on those models, I will be able to compare them to how things work in Canada in order to determine where we might look weak and/or strong compared to our giant partner,” Ken said.

Ken said he’s also eager to learn more about the various provincial models across Canada for public sector funding of SR&ED and private sector innovation at large.  He says he’s grateful to be with a company that encourages his participation in these types of pursuits.

“PMC has had a long history of helping the microelectronics industry in Canada,” he said.  “The company has always had close ties to CMC and SMC, and has made many donations of multiple generations of technology, hardware emulators, capital equipment and even IP.  The point being that while PMC is a multinational company, at the same time we have substantial staff at our development centres here in Canada.  For instance, our Vancouver site is our largest worldwide and our Montreal site has grown significantly in the last couple years.”

PMC (Nasdaq:PMCS) is a semiconductor innovator, working to transform the networks that connect, move and store digital content.  Building on a track record of technology leadership, the company drives innovation across storage, optical and mobile networks.  Its highly integrated solutions increase performance and enable next-generation services to accelerate network transformation.

Ken says a significant amount of PMC’s innovation comes from its Canadian teams, and that the company is committed to investing in Canadian know-how, purchasing Canadian technology IP, hiring top Canadian talent, and keeping close relationships with Canadian universities and other research centres.  In fact, Ken is currently an Adjunct Professor at McGill University in Montreal.

Another of Ken’s goals for the SMC includes expanding and growing its membership.  As more and more companies in the sector create products containing embedded software, he feels much of this growth will come from the embedded software and systems space.

“I hope to reboot the SMC a bit, making sure that people understand that the SMC is comprised of more than traditional microelectronics companies operating in Canada exclusively.  We want to represent companies with significant operations here, even if they have primary operations elsewhere,” he explained.  “ITAC is a strong lobbying group and is expected to represent many subgroups such as our own, and in order to do that, we need to build some consensus on what our issues are and what our options are for dealing with them.  We need to view microelectronics as an umbrella designation that represents more than chip tools and implementations.  In order to grow, we need to pull in MEMS, microsystems, embedded software, infrastructure people and more.”

Ken made some opening remarks at the SMC’s 17th Annual Executive Forum on Microelectronics earlier this month.  To learn more about that event, visit the event page:

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Truly brilliant technology

Royal Hinther, Director of Business Development, CLSI Royal Hinther, Director of Business Development, CLSI

Members of our ICT community often speak to the enabling power of technology, and how technology can make participants in all other industry verticals more efficient and productive.  So one might ask: who, then, enables the technology industry?

Take a look at the Canadian Light Source – Canada’s national synchrotron research facility in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – and you’ll find one answer to that question.

Canadian Light Source Inc. (CLSI) operates the Canadian Light Source – a world-class, state-of-the-art facility that is advancing Canadian science, enhancing the competitiveness of Canadian industry and contributing to the quality of life of people around the world.

Royal Hinther has been Director of Business Development at the CLSI for the past two years.  Royal has both private and public sector experience, including many years spent in implementing   commercialization processes  for technology coming out of Agriculture Canada and the National Research Council, including  strategic planning and policy development with the National Research Council’s Plant Biotechnology Institute.

He says over the two years he’s been with the CLSI, he has truly come to see its importance in the Canadian research and innovation landscape.

“My mandate is essentially to get industry members to use this facility,” Royal explained.  “Seeing as the CLS is federally funded for the most part, my mandate is to get innovation into the hands of industry.  I believe companies in Canada – and researchers – are going to have to use the synchrotron if they want to stay ahead of their competitors.  When we got a list of companies in the States that are using synchrotron technologies, I was both surprised and impressed at the extent these companies were using synchrotron capabilities for product development.  If Canadian researchers aren’t using this facility, I think we have a problem in terms of staying ahead of the pack in innovation and competitiveness.”

A synchrotron is a source of brilliant light that enables scientists to study the microstructure and chemical properties of materials.  Extremely bright synchrotron light is produced by using radio frequency waves and powerful magnets to accelerate electrons close to the speed of light and then bend the path of the electron beam to produce synchrotron light.  Researchers then use and manipulate the light to observe matter down to the atomic level.

Synchrotrons can be used to analyze a host of physical, chemical, geological and biological processes.  Information obtained by researchers can be used to develop ways to help reduce greenhouse gases and clean up mining wastes, examine the structure of surfaces to develop more effective paints and motor oils, design new drugs, develop new materials for products ranging from solar panels to safer medical implants and build more powerful computer chips.  New applications are being thought of all the time – synchrotron experiments are even helping with the search for other life in the universe.

Royal says there is a clear application for synchrotron technology in the microelectronics community and ICT industry at large.

“In the microelectronics community, I think there is a move to the quantum level, a focus on quantum computing, and there are a bunch of different reasons for that,” he said.  “Huge amounts of data are being collected to interpret complex systems in biology, chemistry and physics..”

“Microelectronics – and quantum electronics – are going to be the  foundation of a lot of the world’s next technological breakthroughs,” he added.  “Whether that’s in automobiles, energy sources, quantum materials and processes will be foundational..  It’s less about finding the next mega project  , and it’s more about how we can apply computers and microelectronics to gathering information, and using and managing  systems.”

CLSI employs more than 180  scientists, engineers, technicians and administrative personnel.  The mission of the Canadian Light Source encourages excellence in both basic and applied science, with the mandate to grow the Canadian synchrotron research community and promote the use of synchrotron techniques to industry.  Part of this mandate is a globally-unique focus on commercial partnerships with industry, with 25 percent of the facility reserved for industrial usage.

“The synchrotron basically allows anyone to see what matter is doing, whether that matter is under stress, or whether you’re designing a new piece of microelectronics technology,” Royal said.  “For instance, synchrotron researchers are trying to develop a quantum motherboard.  To me that’s disruptive technology.  I think that will change the landscape in terms of what hardware looks like, but also the software to drive the microprocessors.  Any kind of process could be revolutionized by this type of work.”

“In the microelectronics industry, you’re looking at speed and miniaturization beyond anything we’ve done so far,” he added.  “It could mean sticking something the size of a hearing aid in your ear that provides you with everything – movies, music, wherever your imagination can take you.”

By providing them with access to the synchrotron facility, Royal said the CLS aims to drive and support the competitiveness of Canadian industry and Canadian researchers on a global scale.  All industry needs to do is talk to them.

“We don’t ask companies to be familiar with the technology, we will provide the staff to work with the company .”

Built at an initial capital cost of $173-million, the synchrotron is one of the largest science projects in Canadian history and was the product of an unprecedented collaboration of federal, provincial and municipal governments and agencies, and universities from across the country and industry.  For more information on the CLSI, visit its website:

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ITAC Events

November 9, 2011

Canadian Health Informatics Awards (CHIA) Gala

November 15, 2011

CCIO Breakfast Event - Toronto

December 1, 2011

ITAC Board of Governors dinner

For a full event listing, and to register for ITAC events, go to:


Jenkins Report Recommends SR&ED Changes for CCPCs

Citing the need to address “a funding system that is unnecessarily complicated and confusing to navigate,” the Expert Panel leading the Review of Federal Support to R&D released its report today.  Among its six major recommendations was simplification of the tax credit system used to support small and mid-sized business.  The Panel recommends a reform that would base the SR&ED credits for Canadian controlled private companies solely on labour related costs.  Because the credit would be calculated on a smaller cost base than at present, the Panel recommends increasing the rate, but does not specify by how much.

ITAC has long been a proponent of a labour-based approach to SR&ED credits as a measure to address access issues for large Canadian and multinational R&D reformers who for a variety of reasons derive no benefit from SR&ED credits.  The report makes no provision for this class of taxpayer though it does suggest that:  “Overtime, the government should also consider extending this new labour-based approach to all firms.”  Generally speaking, a labour-based approach works advantageously in ICT R&D where the greatest proportion of costs are labour related (though there are some equipment intensive small to mid-size R&D performers in the ITAC community).  ITAC’s community of CCPCs has generally expressed the highest level of satisfaction with the existing SR&ED regime.  ITAC has not made specific recommendations for reform on behalf of CCPCs.  While we welcome the introduction of the notion of a labour-based credit program, we will be consulting with our membership to assess the broader implications of this recommendation.

The Panel’s report contained five other recommendations:

  • The creation of an Industrial Research and Innovation Council to deliver the Federal Government’s business innovation programs (including IRAP which the panel recommends bolstering).
  • Make business innovation one of the core objectives of procurement.
  • Transform the institutes of the National Research Council into a series of large scale collaborative centres for research, innovation and commercialization.
  • Help high growth innovative firms access risk capital through BDC funds targeted at early stage investment as well as later stage ($10 million or higher) investments.
  • And establish a clear Federal voice for innovation (i.e. assign accountability for innovation to a single minister).

Access the full report here:

BDC earmarks $200 million to help entrepreneurs invest in ICT

On Monday, October 17, 2011, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) announced that it is setting aside $200 million for loans to help entrepreneurs gear up with information and communications technology (ICT).

This represents a significant milestone in the government’s digital economy strategy, a multi-faceted effort to position Canada as a leading innovator, adopter and user of game-changing information and telecommunications technologies. Initiatives such as this that facilitate the uptake and use of digital technologies will increasingly determine success in the global economy.
Read the complete BDC news release here.

OMERS launches venture capital investment arm

OMERS, one of Canada’s largest pension plans, is officially launching its new venture capital arm.  OMERS Ventures is one of the country’s largest venture capital investors, providing financing for promising companies throughout the investment lifecycle.

OMERS Ventures is an initiative of OMERS Strategic Investments (OSI), an investment entity with a mandate to build long-term strategic relationships with like-minded partners. OMERS Ventures is focused on adding value at the early stages of investment, and partnering with entrepreneurs to build great companies.

Canada’s venture capital industry has suffered from a lack of resources and funding since the technology boom and bust over a decade ago.  This means many promising companies are unable to reach the next level of success, said John Ruffolo, CEO of OMERS Ventures, and Senior Vice President and Head of Knowledge Investing at OSI.

Investment team members' bios (John Ruffolo, Peter Carrescia, Jennifer Reynolds, Sid Paquette, Damien Steel, Bram Sugarman) can be found here:

Advisory board members' bios (Michel Brûlé, Rob Burgess, Jim Fletcher, J. Ian Giffen, David J. Kassie, Paul Kedrosky, Sir Terry Matthews) can be found here:

CareerMash: Separating fact from fiction about today’s in-demand tech careers

On September 15, 2011, the Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow’s ICT Skills (CCICT) launched CareerMash, a spectrum of outreach initiatives designed to challenge and change perceptions about the technology-related careers that Canada’s economy needs today and tomorrow.

CareerMash exists to take on a critical challenge. Not enough young people, and particularly not enough girls, are choosing the tech-related careers that meet the needs of today’s employers. CCICT and its members, some of Canada’s largest banks, retailers, manufacturers, IT, consulting and telecom firms, have come together in partnership with the Federal, Ontario and Quebec governments, as well as a number of leading industry organizations to change the perceptions and career choices of young people.
Read more here:

ITAC Continues to Collaborate with PWGSC on Software Licensing Supply Arrangement

After several months of close collaboration with the federal government on a new vehicle for purchasing software, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) released a Software Licensing Supply Arrangement on February 1, 2011.

While the initial “pilot” phase for this SLSA is well underway, ITAC continues to work with PWGSC to make the SLSA as mutually beneficial to both industry and government as possible.

If you are a member of the software industry and have feedback on this SLSA, or the process surrounding it, we encourage you to get in touch with us.  Please contact Linda Oliver at

Subscribe to the WCIT 2012 in Montreal Newsletter

In October of 2012, the 18th World Congress on Information Technology will take place in Montreal, Canada.  The theme of the congress is “The New Digital Society,” an event that will explore fulfilling the promise of the Digital Age.

The industry’s foremost thought leaders, senior government officials, academic and international institutions and global media will converge in Montreal to discuss how the world can continue to benefit from the information technology and communications technologies.

The WCIT 2012 Organizing Committee invites WITSA members' to subscribe to the WCIT 2012 Monthly Newsletter.

You are invited to subscribe to this newsletter and encourage your members to also subscribe: 

Other News and Events

R3D announces new Senior VP in Montreal

Leading Canadian project management and independent strategic consulting firm specializing in IT and business management, R3D Consulting Inc., welcomes Mr. Serge Proulx as Sr. Vice-President of its Montreal division.  With over 23 years of extensive IT experience working for corporations like IBM Canada and LGS, Mr. Proulx’s outstanding background, mostly in sales and service provision, represents a crucial step in the company’s development. 

The company has also recently become an accredited SAP services partner to support its SAP service practice. In the context of R3D’s impressive growth of 95% in the last two years, R3D also launched the implementation of the cutting-edge SAP solution, SAP BusinessByDesign. This strategic ‘cloud’ solution will optimize the efficacy of business operations, ensuring that R3D continues to provide quality, first-rate business and IT consulting to its unique and sophisticated clientele. Headquartered in Montreal and comprised of 450 professionals across 6 offices in Canada, the US, France and Mexico, the company celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.  

Exclusive webinar for ITAC members on public funding opportunities – November 1, 2011

Interested in learning more about public funding opportunities for businesses in Canada?

The Funding Portal ( is a new national bilingual portal that assists Canadian businesses to search the $16B public funding marketplace.  The Portal allows companies to find the right government funding program to meet their growth objectives, and to successfully apply for funds.

The Funding Portal is supported by a number of other regional business and tech organizations.  Now The Portal is pleased to introduce itself to ITAC's members.  Please register and join us for a free exclusive webinar to learn more about government grants and how to use the Portal to secure these funds.  This Lunch and Learn session will be held on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - register now (deadline: Friday, October 28).

Ensure your business uses THE FUNDING PORTAL to maintain its competitive advantage.

Exclusive webinar for ITAC members on public funding opportunities:

When: Tuesday, November 1, 12:15pm-12:55pm EDT

To register for our free webinar on How to Access Public Funding for businesses in Canada, please email by October 28.  All registrations will receive the conferencing information prior to the conference.

WITSA Global Public Policy Summit 2011 – November 6-8 in Guadalajara, Mexico

MexicoIT, along with the Mexican Information Technology Industry Association (AMITI) and the Mexican Chamber for the Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technology Industries (CANIETI), welcomes delegates to the WITSA Global Public Policy Summit 2011, to be held from November 6th to 8th, 2011, in the beautiful city of Guadalajara, Mexico.

Join 500 ICT executives, government officials and policy makers from more than 40 countries to share and learn how to promote the use of ICTs in public policies to overcome social exclusion and improve economic performance, employment opportunities, quality of life, social participation and cohesion.

The WITSA Global Public Policy Summit 2011 is the right place to understand how ICTs, properly used, can be a valuable tool to extract economic and environmental benefit from the increased demands in the new society.

Find more information here:

2012 Edition of the Branham300 – Apply Now!

Entering its 19th year, the Branham300 is a listing that ranks the top publicly-traded and privately-held organizations operating in the Canadian ICT industry by gross revenues.  Appearing on the Branham300 provides companies with FREE exposure to a targeted national audience with comprehensive details on our website ( and through it’s publication in the April/May edition of Backbone Magazine (, which is distributed with the Globe and Mail.  For both up-and-coming firms and industry veterans, recognition on the Branham300 listing has provided Canada’s ICT Industry leaders with increased market exposure and brand awareness, while in many cases also opening the door to new business opportunities, both domestically and abroad.

The application to appear on the 2012 Edition of the Branham300 will remain open until November 30, 2011. Branham Group invites all Canadian ICT companies to visit – - to apply.

For more information about the Branham300, please contact:

Darren Anderson
Branham300 Coordinator
(613) 745-2282 ext. 122

Work Placements (Unpaid) to Support Your GTA Projects

Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services (PICS) has been serving the immigrant community in the GTA for more than 35 years.  In 2009 we served more than 20,000 newcomers.  Our services include assistance navigating Canada's housing, education and healthcare systems, English language training, and employment-related support.

Since 2008, Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services has been helping immigrant professionals from a wide variety of fields, including IT, to get connected to employer networks.  Through our Enhanced Language Training / Transition to Employment, over 300 professionals have received a linguistic and cultural orientation, as well as an orientation to Canadian workplace culture and employer expectations.

Part of the Transition to Employment is an unpaid work placement of 4-12 weeks.  It would be our pleasure to connect you with qualified internationally-trained IT professionals (programmers, network professionals, and user support staff).  We can pre-screen and offer interview space, according to your needs. Let us know when we can connect you!

For more information, please contact Jennifer Davies, 416-233-1981,,

Telecom Mission to India – December 5 to 9, 2011

The International Trade Branch of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade will lead a mission of 8-12 Ontario companies and institutions specializing in telecommunication technologies to India from December 5 to 9, 2011.

The purpose of the mission is to help Ontario companies to develop a better understanding of the rapidly growing telecom market and to assist in partnering and accessing export opportunities in this sector.

The mission will visit Bangalore and New Delhi where participants will receive market briefings and meet with key government decisions makers, prospective private sector partners and financing agencies on a one-on-one basis.

In New Delhi the mission will participate in the India Telecom 2011 Trade Show, a leading telecommunication trade show in India, where the mission delegates can exhibit their products and services.
For more information, please visit the ITAC event page ( or contact:

Akhil Tyagi
Area Director: South Asia
International Trade and Marketing Division
Ministry of Economic Development and Trade
6th Floor, Hearst Block, 900 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario Canada M7A 2E1
Telephone: 416 327-2371, Fax: 416 325-2766