Strategic Innovation Fund Awards Rockport Networks $12M

An Ontario-based technology company, Rockport Networks, has received funding from the federal government to develop Networking at the Edge (NATE). The $49.9M project will create software-enabled network systems for data storage, making these systems more energy efficient, as well as faster and more secure.

Rockport Networks, located in Ottawa and founded in 2012, specializes in software to simplify data networks. Rockport’s innovative network solutions software, termed “Autonomous Networking,” disrupts traditional network infrastructure by eliminating the need for physical network switches. Rockport’s software will allow customers to meet their data centre requirements, including scalability, performance, and security.

Rockport will leverage $12M in support from the Government of Canada to further develop solutions that increase energy efficiency, as well as security, in network systems.

The funding for the project comes through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), which supports projects that develop technology or increase productivity, particularly those that spur large-scale investments in Canada and the development of disruptive products and services. SIF-awarded projects each receive at least $10M in funding.

Strategic Innovation Fund Supports Advanced Software Development

Rockport will use the funding from SIF to develop a new networking model that will represent a faster and cleaner approach to data centre connectivity. The traditional network, reliant on massive pieces of hardware for centralized switching, is expensive and limits scalability. Rockport’s new, software-enabled approach will boost reliability, performance, and manageability, while offering cost reductions related to capital expenditures and electrical costs. Due to its reduction in energy use, the new model has been deemed a sustainable technology.

By using a software-enabled model for switching, Rockport’s solution will reduce power consumption in data centres by up to 50% and reduce the release of GHGs into the environment.

The project will also help Rockport maintain and create more than 300 jobs in Ottawa, Ontario.

Rockport is partnering with server, storage, and computer vendors to integrate the company’s switchless networking technology into others’ solutions. This will allow Rockport’s partners to better take advantage of emerging opportunities in 5G, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning markets.

SD Tech & FedDev Ontario Funded Rockport’s Software Development

In addition to the $12M from the Strategic Innovation Fund, Rockport leveraged Canadian government funding to support earlier stages of its innovative network solutions. In July of this year, Rockport received a $2.9M low-interest loan from FedDev Ontario to accelerate commercialization. Rockport will use the loan to adapt its technology for the server market, refine its product, and complete market development activities. The loan will also support the creation of 20 highly skilled jobs in Ottawa.

In 2015, Rockport also received $6.8M in cleantech grants from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SD Tech) for a consortium project for an earlier stage of developing the company’s technology. The project included activities in simulation, exploration of networking requirements, demonstration, and validation. Rockport’s partners for the SD Tech project were the University of Ottawa, Molex Inc., Seagate Technology, and ThinkOn. Total project costs were $22.1M.

Altogether, Rockport has received almost $22M in government funding across the last four years.

SIF Canadian Government Funding for Large-Scale Projects

The goal of the Strategic Innovation Fund is to drive innovation in Canada through support for large projects (those requesting over $10 million in funding). SIF’s eligibility criteria for businesses are broad, and the program is open to essentially any industry. However, the program is also extremely competitive. Companies should be able to demonstrate very high potential for both growth and innovation.

Applicants can receive up to 50% in project costs through the Strategic Innovation Fund. The program has already awarded $2B to 64 projects in Canada.

Support may be repayable, non-repayable, or a combination. The program determines the amount and type of support on a case-by-case basis. Allowable costs include direct labour; materials and equipment; land and buildings; project overhead (limits apply); subcontractors and consultants; and other direct costs.

Canadian firms interested in learning about additional programs for research and development for advanced technologies are encouraged to check out Mentor Works’ Canadian Business Funding Guide.

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Sunnie holds a PhD in English from Dalhousie University, and has published her writing in several academic journals, as well as in magazines, newspapers, and blogs. She combines years of experience as a professor in English with practical experience in the private sector as a trainer in writing and analytical thinking.

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