Futureworx and the Canadian Innovation Space

Futureworx and the Canadian Innovation Space

By Manoj Patel, Futureworx Architect

When pondering the contributions of our Canuck brethren, you would be forgiven for casting your mind immediately to elements synonymous with the Canadian cultural landscape or Arctic winter conditions (i.e. ice hockey and snow mobiles). When in fact, some of the most fundamental technological enablers for the world we live in today originated from the land of the maple leaf. From Alexander Graham Bell's creation of the telephone in 1876 and the discovery of insulin by Frederick Banting in 1921, to the development of somewhat less profound IMAX technology by a trio of Canadian filmmakers in 1967 - Canada has a lot to offer in the way of innovative thinking and pioneering capability.

My name is Manoj Patel and I am a Futureworx Architect based out of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Daily life for me involves balancing the application of my existing skillsets in software, electronics design, development and testing to further the efforts of the Futureworx team's ambitious programmes; while also taking the time to immerse myself in the North American (and in particular Canadian) R&D ecosystem to identify new and emerging technologies and future potential partners to help tackle some of the big global challenges we face in the next decade.

The Covid-19 pandemic not only shaped the way in which I interacted with the local R&D and academic community, but also set the tone for the kind of research that is being conducted here. A prime example of this is the novel surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater to understand circulation in a given population and offshoot developments involving nanotechnology to actively track antibiotic contamination of wastewater.

I am fast approaching the first anniversary since my move from the UK to Canada and, upon reflection of my industrial immersion, I feel similar energy and talent, particularly within areas of software engineering and development capability, as I once encountered in the UK. Indeed, Canada as a country is investing heavily in attracting international talent within the software development landscape and this is exemplified when considering the number of unicorn start-up companies that have risen in the last few years alone, including Wealthsimple, Clio, and Ada, to name a few.

Having explored the STEM ecosystem from a safe distance for the first few months of my move, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, I was at last afforded the opportunity in June 2022 to attend - as part of a wider Marshall Group contingent - one of the first in-person global defence and security trade shows to be hosted in Canada since the start of the pandemic: CANSEC 2022.

While the main agenda was for the Marshall Canada team to connect with existing suppliers and customers and foster potential future partnerships based on existing businesses and programmes, I was on a slightly different mission: to understand what people were up to in and around the same commercial space as the newly formed Futureworx team - with a view to connect with new potential suppliers and partners.

I found a great deal of opportunities for collaboration during my attendance. From early start-up founders discussing rugged and low SWaP-C server hardware for embedded IoT application use cases to well established players demonstrating cloud-based Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) offerings - there was an array of products either directly applicable to existing Futureworx problem spaces or which drove my thinking in areas that we were not currently exploring.

My experience of working for Futureworx from Canada has exposed me to the breadth and depth of knowledge and ingenuity that exists in Canada and the North American market as a whole. I have walked away from my recent trade-show attendance with many new contacts in local industry that I hope will develop into potential future opportunities for collaboration.

I look forward to employing these to great effect in the coming months, with the ambition to chart a course in expanding the Futureworx operating model into Canada.