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From Living Lab to New Office “With the hiring of local talent”

Legend has it that getting your hands on your first customer is the hardest challenge to overcome. Well, in Summerside, we love being that first customer.

When BluWave-ai needed to validate its AI technology for renewable energy optimization, it found a unique and ideal partner in the City of Summerside.

The Ontario-based company offers software-based solutions; this includes using “big data”—using algorithms to help utilities predict generation from renewable sources like solar and wind to forecast overall energy requirements. BluWave-ai, however, required access to real-world utility data to test and refine its artificial intelligence technology.

In 2018, the company found a partner in the City of Summerside. Summerside provided the large dataset required for testing and the susceptibility to work with entrepreneurs in its Living Lab environment. In addition, the Summerside grid offered a valuable mix of wind power, solar power, battery storage, smart metering, and utility loads in terms of testing. The partners conducted a six-month pilot with BluWave-ai software used alongside the in-house system at Summerside’s electrical utility.

With the effectiveness of the BluWave-ai algorithms, Summerside Electric saved over $200,000 annually and successfully reduced CO2 emissions by thousands of tonnes. By 2021, BluWave-ai and Summerside had announced the first end-to-end AI-optimized power grid in North America.

As a result of the pilot, BluWave-ai verified and improved its algorithms and documented results it could showcase when marketing to potential clients. Following this astounding breakthrough, the company has signed multi-year contracts in India, the United States, and Scotland.

Today, BluWave-ai has established an evident and permanent presence and continues to help optimize Summerside’s utility manager software and further the city’s leadership in green energy and net-zero emissions. 

Fast forward to June 2022, the state-of-the-art software company has officially opened BluWave-ai offices in Summerside with two goal-driven and dynamic hires. The icing on the cake is that these first two hires are locally grown IT talent right from our local University. Both Essayas and Alaa are recent graduates of the UPEI Information Technology program and come with a shining academic and practical experience as part of their first career move.

Essayas Kassa (Ethiopia)
Year of Graduation: May 2022
Program Graduated From University of Prince Edward Island
Degree: BSc. Honours degree in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics


Alaa Emad (Egypt)
Year of Graduation: 2022
Program Graduated From Computer Science with a specialization
in Video Game Development
Degree: Bachelor of Science

Discovering your first customer experience with the collaborative support of Summerside’s Living lab is a testament to what you can bring to fruition without hassle. Establishing a centre to service the globe right here in Summerside from pilot to commercialization in short order is highly attainable, and so are the endless possibilities awaiting you. BluWave-ai is just another example of how you can achieve success in Summerside.

Sunbank Corner
(An Advanced Living Lab Success!)

From Infrastructure to growing a Sector in Summerside
An innovative project about to get you on the edge of your seat in Summerside is Sunbank Solar—a partnership between Samsung Renewable Energy Inc and the City of Summerside. This mind-blowing innovation will demonstrate and commercialize the endless potential of renewable energy.
It is quite unfortunate to see that the perception of its volatility often limits renewable energy. For instance, an electrical utility can generate power using fossil fuels, but it cannot control when the sun shines, or the wind blows. What if technology could help store and manage such renewable energy more efficiently to maximize its use?
Putting ingenious thinking into action, Summerside and Samsung Renewable Energy are developing this for the Summerside Sunbank. This clean technology project is scheduled for completion in early 2023; the clean technology project consists of a combination of a solar farm and large-scale battery storage to provide a stable power source. The project offers the potential to further green Summerside’s electrical grid, generate wealth in the community, and break down some of the technical barriers to green energy use for power utilities.
The $66-million project includes a 21 MW solar power farm with 48,000 solar panels plus a 10 MW/28 MWh battery storage system, with the solar farm located on a city well-water field to maximize the use of the land base as a source of clean drinking water and clean energy for residents.

Completing the project will increase Summerside’s reliance on renewables to more than 60 percent—approximately 42 percent wind and 21 percent solar of its energy use. With more renewable power generated and stored in the city, the project will also keep more dollars circulating in the community. In addition, this municipal project will showcase the potential of net-zero energy to other communities and utilities across the globe.
Other key partners in the project include Aspin Kemp & Associates, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and the federal and provincial governments.  
One of the many innovative approaches the partners have taken is incorporating significant value add requirements as part of the project execution. Extensively, not only are the partners building this phenomenal renewable energy project, but they are committed to growing, training research and fostering a clean tech industry right here in Summerside. By doing so by maximining procurement, staffing and local training on every aspect of the project.
As of June this year, our primary contractor AKA has effectively delivered on its promise to help Summerside grow its clean tech capabilities and help position Summerside as a foremost economic driver of jobs and growth. We are over the moon to experience this being out in front.
Local content and training:
Natural Forces, a subcontractor onsite, is employing 14 islanders, both students and adults, full time. The students are trained in racking and installing solar panels.

Two local islanders are trained in pile driving on site.
Overall we have 35 local people on-site working, and we expect this number to increase as the panels arrive. Hence, by the end of the day,  an estimation of 75 people is expected.
Post-secondary collaboration:
11 UPEI and HC students were hired directly by AKA for a period of 12 weeks minimum.

All students received 3 days of training in procedures, safety and harness training for working at elevation.
4 students are presently receiving training onsite for Quality Assurance and Quality Control and are involved in the piling control and receivables.

• 2 students are trained in logistics and project management
• 3 students are involved in engineering
• 2 students are installing small commercial solar panel jobs until the panels for Sunbank arrive.

Research and development:
AKA continues to explore developing a microgrid test facility for onsite.
In conclusion, our partners in this project continue to drive innovation and clean tech in Summerside without neglecting the importance of ensuring that we use the privilege of this project to guarantee the overall growth and train our labour force of tomorrow. It is also mandatory to ensure that we bestow as much local engagement as possible and showcase how collaboration and innovative thinking can massively contribute to helping us achieve even greater heights.


Growing Up is Hard to Do
If there’s a recurring theme in our office, it’s that our aim is to grow Summerside. This refers to the population, the number of jobs, the commercial assessment, major developments, creating awareness, and improving infrastructure. We wish to maximize investment by making Summerside a desirable place that people know by name and associate with success.
As we’ve seen in past newsletters, our population is growing. There is great immigrant interest, building permits are breaking records, the number of businesses establishing and expanding is higher than ever, and commercial vacancy rates are lower than ever. Considering all that, it’s fair to say Summerside is growing, but now assets must grow to keep up with demand.
Besides commercial/industrial stock, one of the more pronounced barriers to growth right now is housing. No matter why someone comes here, whether it’s for schooling, immigration, employment, or retirement, they need somewhere to live. Several Summerside employers have stated this as their top priority. They’ve found the labour, but it doesn’t work out because they can’t find a suitable place to live.

While we’ve seen a surge in new construction, we’ve also seen the new construction lapped up before they’re even finished. Subdivisions are selling out in just a year or two, whereas it would have taken a decade back in 2010. Also, new apartments are instantly occupied and have a waiting list.
In terms of ownership, numbers from the PEI Real Estate Association paint a clear picture. For 2021, the number of Summerside units sold was 322, while for 2010, it was 214. Also, in 2021, the Months of Inventory was 2.1, while for 2010, it was 10.2. These numbers are drastically different and encapsulate why finding a home is so difficult today.
For rentals, CMHC released 2021 vacancy numbers earlier this year and the results were not surprising:

The typical cycle for rentals is that you build when the vacancy rate gets too low, like in 2012. As the new stock is completed, the vacancy rate goes up and then slowly erodes as the space is absorbed. We saw this happening from the year 2015 to 2018. The low rate in 2018 triggered more development in 2019–2021, as seen in the table above, but the vacancy rate remained low since.
It turns out there’s some irony. Even though we are creating new places to live like never before, the demand is so strong that every unit is being absorbed instantly—a telltale sign of a growing city.
All totalled, developments both current and future represent a grand total of 665 units over the next several years. This is very encouraging given the conclusion of our Housing Report from 2021, namely that we require as many as 1,250 units over the next 15 years. Considering everything that’s happened since that report was written, we argue that the need will be even greater.
Speaking of great need, although the focus of this article is residential, commercial/industrial space is just as strained. The overall vacancy rate is about 3% and the space that remains is often not move-in ready. Thus, helping people find space has been difficult for almost 3 years now, and demand will persist at least into 2025 and probably beyond. In particular, industrial space vacancy is virtually 0%, which is a major motivator for initiating our Summerside Business Commons Eco-Park.
Summerside has become popular in all facets. Although that has introduced challenges, they are good challenges to have, and opportunities are abundant for those that hop on the train right now.


Summerside in Numbers

If interested in learning more about investment opportunities, economic development support or opportunities for growth, please call our Economic Development Professionals.
We would love to chat.

Alternatively, you can email us at
It could be 
the most profitable email you ever send.

Michael Thususka
Director of Economic Development City of Summerside
275 Fitzroy Street, Summerside PE C1N 1H9
M: 902.432.0103, E:

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