A DAIR to Canada’s digital innovators: is time on your side?

High-tech entrepreneurs are using the Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research (DAIR) Program to move their products to market quickly and gain that critical first mover advantage

Cybera, CANARIE and Compute Canada today launched a promotional video about DAIR€” – the Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research€” that explores how Canada'€™s digital innovators are using this powerful, cloud-enabled testbed. DAIR is a shared R&D environment where small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in the high-tech sector can design, prototype, validate and demonstrate pre-commercial technologies faster and cheaper than ever before. Selected Information and communications technologies (ICT) entrepreneurs can access DAIR free of charge until March 2012.

"€œDAIR is helping small and medium-sized Canadian companies to develop competency in cloud computing technologies,"€ notes CANARIE'€™s Senior Director, Technology Innovation Mark Wolff. "Users are testing applications that mine huge amounts of data, or validating how their products perform with multiple users —€” in the case of gaming and social media applications. Both kinds of users need the network and computing scale and scope available through DAIR."

DAIR is the result of strong partnerships between CANARIE, Cybera, Compute Canada, and other partners. DAIR users access the CANARIE national network, as well as networks in their home province, to use the cloud-enabled Compute Canada resources located at the University of Alberta and the University of Sherbrooke. Alberta'€™s CyberaNet network, and Quebec'€™s RISQ network, are critical partners in providing access to these resources. DAIR'€™s advanced technical environment enables large-scale simulations that ordinarily are difficult '€” or even impossible '€” for SMEs to carry out.

"DAIR is a plug-and-play environment for companies that either lack funds for infrastructure development, or who want to test multiple scenarios before making a significant investment," says Robin Winsor, President and CEO of Cybera. "€œThis program is designed to give Canadian companies a boost in the global IT marketplace by providing a powerful testbed that can help reduce time to market."€

The DAIR program was launched in spring 2011 and currently hosts more than 20 users, who cite the speed, scalability and security of the program as its biggest benefits. For example, data created on the system remains in Canada, as opposed to residing on non-Canadian cloud services servers, thus increasing information privacy. The range of users testing their products and services on DAIR include such sectors as:

  • Gaming and video
  • Construction
  • Mass messaging
  • Simulations
  • Security
  • Social media
  • Insurance
  • Mobile development platforms
  • Geo-navigation

To benefit from DAIR, high-tech entrepreneurs need to act quickly. The current pilot phase of the DAIR Program is open until March 2012, at no charge to users. Funding for DAIR is provided by CANARIE, which receives its mandate and funding from the Government of Canada on a five-year basis. CANARIE is now working towards securing its next mandate, which will begin in April 2012.

"€œThe DAIR program is such an important asset for Canadian SMEs that we want to expand it to accommodate more users, and have included this in our proposal to the Government of Canada for our next mandate,"€ said Jim Roche, CANARIE'€™s President and CEO. "We believe DAIR is a powerful tool to strengthen Canada'€™s digital economy and accelerate commercialization of innovative digital products and services."

Find out more
Watch a video about DAIR, including interviews with three current users.

To find out more about DAIR, including how to submit a proposal, visit the website.