Invest Ottawa delivers economic development programs and initiatives that increase entrepreneurial momentum, wealth and jobs in the City of Ottawa and its surrounding region.
Its goal is to make Ottawa the best place in Canada to start and grow a knowledge-based business.
Invest Ottawa services include startup incubation and mentorship, acceleration for existing companies, global business attraction and local business retention, targeted sector development, commercialization, and marketing Ottawa’s diversified economy and high quality of life.
1. What is Invest Ottawa?
Invest Ottawa delivers collaborative economic development programs and initiatives that increase entrepreneurial momentum, wealth and jobs in the City of Ottawa and its surrounding region while marketing Ottawa’s diversified economy and high quality of life.
Invest Ottawa is the City’s primary partner in economic development delivery. The arm’s length organization carries out economic development programs and initiatives in the areas of entrepreneurial mentorship, startup development, business incubation services, commercialization, targeted sector development, investment attraction, business retention, expansion, and global trade development.
2. Who leads the organization and how is it structured?
Invest Ottawa is led by President and CEO Bruce Lazenby, who signed onto the job in September, 2011, to lead a revitalized, more inclusive and collaborative economic development organization.
Invest Ottawa and Mr. Lazenby report directly through a Board of Directors co-chaired by the Mayor of the City of Ottawa and Ottawa entrepreneur Jeff Westeinde. Invest Ottawa also seeks input from a private sector-driven Working Groups to ensure the needs of the business community are fully aligned with the City’s economic development objectives.
3. How will Invest Ottawa work with other economic development groups?
Collaboration and partnership are primary pillars of the Invest Ottawa mandate. Invest Ottawa will support and mentor high-potential young entrepreneurs in new knowledge-based sectors like life sciences, green energy, digital media and film and television.
Within the broader economic development community, Invest Ottawa will share information and opportunities among groups like Ottawa Tourism and the Chambers of Commerce.
Invest Ottawa will work closely with its partners co-located at its 80 Aberdeen Street headquarters. These include the Ottawa Community Loan Fund, Industrial Research Assistance Program, Ontario Centres of Excellence, Ottawa’s Young Entrepreneurs, and several local business incubation initiatives that combined, can provide one-stop access to entrepreneurial support and advice.
In addition, Invest Ottawa will connect with entrepreneurial communities that have not been traditionally engaged. For example, it will work closely with students in Ottawa universities and colleges to encourage them to stay in Ottawa to start their own companies or discover job opportunities at existing companies.
4. How will Invest Ottawa measure its success?
Through an Annual Operation Plan, the City has set a number of goals, objectives and performance metrics for Invest Ottawa to achieve, primarily focused on investment and jobs. These metrics will include tracking inbound trade delegations, square footage leased, dollars invested, training programs delivered and jobs created.
5. How is Invest Ottawa different from OCRI? What has changed?
OCRI’s original mandate in 1985 was to connect academic institutions and the burgeoning high tech sector that was focused on the telecom industry. 10 years later Ottawa was home to more than 500 technology companies. Since then OCRI’s mandate was modified several times. By 2011, there were more than 1,900 knowledge-based companies located in Ottawa, yet OCRI was widely perceived as a collection of standalone programs that confused the public and many participants in Ottawa’s business ecosystem. In addition, Ottawa’s entrepreneurial community required support for a broader array of knowledge-based sectors.
6. Why were these changes necessary?
These changes were necessary to ensure that the work of Invest Ottawa is more focused on entrepreneurial development and business retention, attraction and expansion in key sectors.
7. How are the Mayor and the City involved in Invest Ottawa?
The Mayor of the City of Ottawa is the co-chair of Invest Ottawa’s Board of Directors. Through its approved five-year Economic Development Strategy and its Economic Development Implementation Plan, the City led the development and implementation of Invest Ottawa. The City is the primary funder of Invest Ottawa and through a multi-year agreement and annual operating plans, it will oversee Invest Ottawa’s execution of its mandate.
8. How is Invest Ottawa funded?
Invest Ottawa is primarily funded by the City Ottawa. In addition, it also receives funding from the Province and Federal Government as well as through corporate sponsorships and some minor fees for service. Rent received from sub-tenants (Ottawa Community Loan Fund, Industrial Research Assistance Program, Ontario Centres of Excellence, Ottawa’s Young Entrepreneurs) is also a source of revenue.
9. How is the private sector involved in Invest Ottawa?
The private sector is involved with Invest Ottawa in two ways: first as clients of the organization and second as advisors through the Invest Ottawa Board of Directors and its Working Groups.
For example, clients of Invest Ottawa may want to discover how to start, fund or grow a new business, how to connect or expand within their sector, how to incubate their company with the benefit of hands-on mentors, or how to seek assistance in expanding or locating in Ottawa.
10. What are the top three priorities for Invest Ottawa?
Entrepreneurial development, foreign direct investment, and business retention and expansion are the top three priorities for the organization.