2017 In Review

This was an exciting year for ORION. In 2017, we embraced our role as champions of Ontario’s innovation community while expanding our reach, improving our products and services, and making new investments in our network.

We brought ORION to more communities and institutions than ever before. We are hard at work improving the advanced technology of our network and are moving forward with plans to provide our private, reliable, high-speed connectivity to researchers, educators and innovators in Northern Ontario — including a project bringing 100 gigabit per second access to Thunder Bay and Sudbury. We’re determined to bring them and the rest of our community the digital tools they need to make groundbreaking advances: whether it’s new ways to care for the health of premature infants, turning libraries into 21st-century community hubs, or enabling students to explore the world without even leaving their classroom.

And we’ve continued to remain in touch with innovators across our community, keeping abreast of their needs and desires as we advocate on their behalf and empower them to make Ontario a global leader.


ORION is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to empowering Ontario researchers, educators and innovators. We facilitate groundbreaking discoveries and cutting-edge education by connecting institutions and regions across the province, providing them with the digital tools and expertise they need, and advocating on their behalf.


ORION seeks to enable and support Ontario innovators in their efforts to make the world a better place.

Acting as a champion for the innovation community, ORION offers the critical infrastructure necessary for collaboration, providing researchers, educators and innovators with the tools and connections they need in order to make pioneering discoveries and provide cutting-edge education.

As a not-for-profit organization, our primary focus is the groundbreaking work of our community — and how we can help make it happen.

Together, we’re all partners in making Ontario a global leader in innovation.

A Letter from the President

This was an important year of growth at ORION, building on our momentum of a transformative 2016. We moved into new offices, giving new life to a historic building by transforming our floor into an open, collaborative workspace; welcomed new directors to our Board; and continued to expand and improve our network and services in order to empower the researchers, educators and innovators who make Ontario — and the world — a better place.

We entered this year with a clear and ambitious set of goals, which I wrote about last year. The ORION team has been hard at work meeting every single one of those targets.

We improved our product offerings and our service delivery. We launched new customer support software in 2017 — part of our ongoing mission to better serve the innovators who rely on ORION to power their work.

We also introduced a shared Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) pilot initiative together with eight higher education institutions in Ontario. The two-year pilot project addresses information privacy and cyber security challenges. We are thrilled by the response the project has already generated; it earned positive media attention and was nominated for a 2017 Canadian Higher Education Information Technology (CANHEIT) award.

We expanded the reach of our digital community. This year, we welcomed even more institutions to our digital community: the Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir, McMaster Children’s Hospital, CENGN, and the City of Vaughan have joined more than a hundred other institutions who rely on our network every day.  Their researchers, educators and innovators are now among more than two million change-makers ORION connects across the province.

We’ve also been involved in some major government-supported digital infrastructure projects. Our assessment of the digital infrastructure opportunity in Northern Ontario, for example, will be used in support of our efforts to welcome more innovators into our community from remote regions of the province, increasing our diversity while providing equal access to the innovation economy.

We actively engaged with our community. In 2017, we continued to ensure that we were in touch with the changing needs and desires of Ontario’s innovation community. We met regularly with our advisory groups; our collaboration with them has inspired the development of a “needs matrix” as well as the launch of several pilot projects that will lead to even more improvements in the years to come.

Meanwhile, we’ve also continued to meet frequently with our government stakeholders and community partners such as the National Research and Education Network (NREN), Research Data Canada, eCampus Ontario, Compute Ontario, Federation of Ontario Public Libraries, Council of Ontario Universities, and Colleges Ontario.

We renewed our focus on collaboration and advocacy. ORION is passionately committed to serving as a champion for the innovation community in Ontario. This year, when the CRTC announced that many in our community might have to register as internet resellers, we kept our community updated on the status of the initiative and spoke directly to the CRTC to express our community’s views. We coordinated with the CRTC and NREN and deadlines were delayed by a year in order to allow enough time for a proper and thorough investigation of the proposed initiative and the impact it will have on the researchers, educators and innovators who drive innovation in Ontario.

Given all our recent success, I know that 2018 will be even better than 2017 as we continue to establish ourselves in our new role and capitalize on the momentum we’ve already created. I’m excited about the path ORION is on and I’m looking forward to building on our successes as we help Ontario strengthen its position as a global leader in innovation.

Alfonso Licata

President and CEO, ORION

A Letter from the chair

As the chair of the ORION board, 2017 was an especially gratifying year. It has now been seven years since I took on this role; and while I have decided to step down, I do so confident in the knowledge that Ontario is at the forefront of innovation, and that our organization plays an even more vital role than ever before.

I’m deeply proud of what the ORION team has accomplished since I began my tenure. In that time, we’ve greatly increased the number of institutions connected by the ORION network, welcomed hundreds of thousands more researchers, educators and innovators into our community, rolled out new tools and services, and expanded the part we play in empowering innovation in the province. And we’ve done it all more efficiently than ever before.

ORION has become much more than just the advanced network we were originally created to be. We are Ontario’s digital community for research and education, trusted partners advocating on behalf of our community, and champions of innovation wherever it’s found across our province.

As my time as chair comes to an end, I leave ORION in the best of hands. I’m thrilled to welcome Jim Garner, of the Office of Advancement and Strategy at Upper Canada College, as the new chair of the ORION board. Jim has been a member of the board since 2011 and I’m certain the insights and guidance he brings to the role will serve the organization exceptionally well. I’m entirely confident that he and the rest of the talented and dedicated members of the board will achieve and exceed the ambitious goals we’ve set for ourselves. I look forward with excitement to the future of innovation in Ontario, and to ORION continuing to lead the way.

Anne Sado

President, George Brown College