On March 23, 2023, the Quebec government announced that it was “putting on hold” the project to create a “cybersecurity innovation zone” in Gatineau (a municipality in the province of Quebec). “For an innovation zone, it was deemed that the private sector was not there,” said Pierre Fitzgibbon, Quebec’s Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy.
Since 2014, the province has in fact been developing “innovation zones,” delineated spaces aimed at getting researchers and companies to collaborate in a high-tech sector. In early 2023, Quebec Premier François Legault confirmed the creation of two such “zones” in Sherbrooke and Bromont. Both initiatives are eligible for provincial grants of up to $690 million (469 million euros).
Gatineau was a candidate to host the innovation zone dedicated to cybersecurity. The city relied on a strong concentration of universities and its proximity to Ottawa, the federal capital, located on the other side of the Ottawa River.
However, it has not been able to convince enough private companies to set up shop in its territory. “All the universities, all the companies are very much concerned with cybersecurity. There is a cluster in Quebec City, there is a cluster in Montreal… It was virtually impossible to have a significant amount of the private sector in Gatineau. This is not a failure,” reassured Pierre Fitzgibbon.