Montreal is now home to Quebec’s first industry driven technology think tank, Numana. The organization was born of the old TechnoMontreal, after its board installed Francois Borrelli last year and gave him a mandate to overhaul the organization’s operations. After a year of careful analysis and planning, the change was announced in recent days.
Beyond the new name and logo, the organization’s mandate is now province-wide instead of being specifically focussed on Montreal. They remain focussed on the ICT vertical, but are also looking at how that tech dovetails with other initiatives such as smart cities, and potentially even quantum enabled technologies moving forward.
“It’s a change of philosophy and change of geography. There’s an innovation aspect to what we do. A talent aspect. A promotion aspect. All this is still part of our mandate.” says Numana CEO Francois Borrelli, who added that one of the principal objectives is to help industry be more competitive. “We’ll be focussing more like a think tank, and the two areas we’re working on are emerging and disruptive technologies technologies and disruptive business models which are ICT oriented. We believe we’ve found our sweet spot as an organization, and now it’s time for us to prove it.”
All of the 60 + partners of the old entity will be staying on board with Numana, including corporates like Bell and Google, Universities including McGill and ETS, startups such as Heyday and MoovAI along with some VCs, some provincially and federally funded tech organizations and other ecosystem actors. It makes for a fairly holistic approach. This while others continue to join, with AWS one of the latest to confirm its status as a partner. These partners make up Numana’s different advisory committees, which are dedicated to working on different subjects and applications.
“With its partners from the private, institutional and public sectors, Numana oversees projects such as the wall of technological innovations of Quebec, Humanitek (the technological think tank of Quebec) and the Quebec Center for Business Innovation (CQIC). “We build strong ecosystems and catalyze initiatives that promote our industry, here and elsewhere,”says David Bertrand, President and CEO General of Hospitalis and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Numana.
On top of this, Borrelli explains to Montreal in Technology that his organization “does the evaluation regarding economic development and social impact for key projects. Nobody else is working on this in Quebec. We put humans in the centre of everything we do, and based on that, we recommend what types of forward-looking projects which government or other stakeholders may consider.”
“Numana is all about action. The organization works intelligently and oversees projects technologies with high added value for Quebec,” said Jean-Phillippe Paradis, President, Bell Technical solutions.
Numana will also offer a “soft landing” service for smaller companies from outside Quebec looking to set up shop here. According to Borrelli, the service is a kind of early stage business development program for small foreign companies in ICT. Numana would help those entities identify connectors here in Quebec who can help get the ball rolling from a business development perspective, and offer real guidance on the market post-arrival as well.
Despite all these changes, the organization has not yet secured and new public funding, although that is a work in progress. And while they have been able to attract new partner companies, including both conglomerates and SMEs, the current pandemic environment is making it more challenging for some organizations to part with the dollars required for membership. That being said there is growing interest in participating in the Numana project, with big companies like Siemens and JLL currently sitting around the table as advisors and not full partners at this stage.