The Kitchener-Waterloo area has been home to a thriving technology community for decades and is currently on the verge of another promising boom. What was once a tech town anchored by areas in Waterloo like RIM Park, has now expanded to include large technology centers in downtown Kitchener’s newly coined “innovation district”.
The Tannery Building in Kitchener is home to Communitech — the region’s premier innovation-center as well as the Velocity Garage and LaunchPad, the University of Waterloo and Laurier University’s respective startup incubators. Across the street, you can find the new Breithaupt Block, an innovation-center by Perimeter Development Corporation which is the future home to an expanded 185,000 square foot Google office. According to Perimeter’s President, Craig Beattie, the signing of a major tenant like Google is “further evidence of the strength and interest in companies to locate in the urban core of the city”.
Image Credit: City of Kitchener, Innovation District
However, it’s not just companies that are relocating to the Kitchener-Waterloo region. An increase in jobs means an increase in people, leading to greater demand for urban housing. Local developer, Momentum Developments is meeting this demand with a series of new condos, including the One Victoria Condominiums located right beside the Tannery and slated for completion in 2015. “Tech is one of the largest drivers of the region’s economy and has encouraged many skilled people to move to or stay in the area,” says Peter Maxwell, Partner at Momentum Developments. “Our goal is to provide these people with exciting places to live in an urban context.” According to Maxwell, many purchasers of units in One Victoria are those moving from Toronto to Kitchener in order to pursue a new career in the area.
“Tech is one of the largest drivers of the region’s economy and has encouraged many skilled people to move to or stay in the area,” says Peter Maxwell, Partner at Momentum Developments.
Image Credit: Momentum Developments, One Victoria Street
It’s clear that the thriving tech scene in Kitchener-Waterloo is keeping local construction teams busy, but that’s only the tip of how the two industries are working together. In the past few years, several construction-focused tech startups have launched in the region and local developers and general contractors have been quick to welcome the innovation on-site.
Bridgit and RenoMii are amongst two of the region’s companies focused on building software for the construction industry. Bridgit offers a cloud-based mobile and web app for handling construction punch lists on commercial and large scale residential projects, called Closeout. RenoMii caters to smaller contractors looking for a way to track change orders and improve communication with their clients.
Knowing that the technology being used on-site was built next door is bound to ease the reluctance towards new-technology that is often associated with the construction industry. “I do think in general [construction professionals] here are more open to technology than in other markets” Maxwell admits.
This proximity to Canada’s tech center is making it easier than ever for construction companies in the Grand Valley to start the new software conversation. Whether that means using a solution built by a local company, or just talking with people in the tech community about the options that exist.
“We try to position ourselves as a resource for any type of construction technology questions,” says Mallorie Brodie, Co-Founder of Bridgit, “whether they are related to our software or not”.
Currently, Bridgit’s Closeout app is being used by construction teams across the region including Momentum Developments.
Construction technology is such a hot topic right now, but many companies are left unsure of what the next step should be. By opening up the lines of communication between innovation centers and the construction industry, companies in the Grand Valley will continue to find success with technology and lead the charge for construction innovation in Canada.
Anyone interested in talking to the Bridgit team about technology trends related to construction or otherwise can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.