• CITM

New Centre to Help Automotive Companies

The Centre for Integrated Transportation and Mobility will help local companies developing connected and autonomous vehicle solutions

Innovation Factory has launched a $10.5-million centre aimed at helping local companies that are developing connected and autonomous vehicle solutions with their product development and business growth.

The Centre for Integrated Transportation and Mobility (CITM) provides businesses with advisory services — from finding their first customers to assisting with marketing strategies, connecting industry to academia to help resolve technical issues, and offering access to resources to accelerate product testing and prototyping, said Sam Saad, Innovation Factory's director of strategic initiatives.

"Hamilton has incredible capacity and talent in the automotive space, and we're looking to enhance that existing talent and capacity," he said. "We're looking to create economic opportunities or build on existing economic opportunities and ensure that Hamilton remains a key player in the shifting automotive supply chain."

The centre is a public-private partnership that includes Nokia Canada, Canada Cartage, Geotab, IBM Canada, Ontario Centres of Excellence, the City of Hamilton, McMaster University, Mohawk College and Innovation Factory, and is also part of Ontario's Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network.

CITM kicked off in the summer with a "soft launch" but Wednesday's official announcement comes as the centre is now working with more than 10 startups.

One of those companies is Preteckt, which is building predictive maintenance for vehicles focused on the replication and automation of the diagnostic decisions a technician would make when a vehicle is brought into a shop, said co-founder and COO Sasha Kucharczyk.

With half of their company based in Hamilton, Kucharczyk said the centre appealed to them because of its connection to industry, their knowledge of funding opportunities and their ties to the local community.

"It was a bit of a no-brainer for us to get involved — for them to help us figure out what programs to apply for, how to do it, but what is ... actually out there for ... Ontario-based companies to help successfully grow a company," he said.

Currently, the centre is operating out of McMaster Innovation Park while they work to map out a permanent location in Hamilton that they hope to have open by the summer, said Saad.

As part of the centre, work is underway to create a "smart city mobility lab" that would involve installing different sensors on a local roadway to allow vehicles to "speak" to the infrastructure, he said.

This could allow for emergency vehicles to have traffic lights change to allow them to proceed when approaching an intersection, Saad said.

The centre, which runs until March 2022, will also offer dedicated office space for the companies with which it is working, he noted.

The goal is to create high-paying local jobs by supporting homegrown companies, he said.

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