This week, PerkinElmer, a US$2.3-billion company focused on human and environmental health, opened a LeanLab at the Communitech Hub.

In doing so, the Waltham, Mass.-based multinational joined a growing list of large companies to dock with the Waterloo Region startup ecosystem and tap into opportunities to innovate.

We sat down with Abdul Al-Haimi, Software Innovation Lab Lead, and Jamie McQuay, Director of Software R&D, to talk about the company and why it chose Communitech for its outpost.

Q – What is PerkinElmer and how big is it?

AA – PerkinElmer is a global leader focusing on innovating for a healthier world. We develop software and hardware solutions to improve the health and safety of our families and the environment around us.

So, for example, we have screened over 500 million babies for life-threatening diseases. We also test about 300 billion gallons of water every year to make sure that the water we drink is safe for all of us.

We are represented in about 150 countries in the world and we have about 8,000 employees working hard to provide excellent product services and customer experience.

Q – What prompted PerkinElmer to open a LeanLab here at Communitech?

AA – We were looking at different options around the world for our second innovation lab. We have the first one in Cambridge, Mass., and this second one is to focus on creating innovative digital solutions.

We ended up choosing the Hub mainly because of the unique sense of community around here, and the ability and opportunity to work alongside big companies and tons of innovative startups and bright minds.

Q – So you looked at other places before settling on this one?

JM – We looked at other locations, but they didn't have the same mix of corporate innovation and the startup community all in one.

And with the corporate community here, I think we’re kind of a natural fit, because it’s almost a collection of oddballs – you’ve got automotive, banking and we fit the life sciences.

We looked in Asia; we have a fairly large presence in Shanghai and we looked there, but there were time zone difficulties and things like that.

Q – What do you think of what you’ve seen of the Waterloo Region tech ecosystem so far?

AA – Oh my God, it’s amazing. There’s nothing like it.

The reason is that Waterloo is home for about 1,000 tech companies, and really, tons of great talent graduating from the most innovative university in Canada – the University of Waterloo.

That’s the main reason why big companies like Google have a large presence here.

Q – You’re starting with a LeanLab, which is a smaller version of the corporate innovation labs we see in our space. Does this suggest a potentially larger presence here at Communitech if things go well?

AA – Yes, we are initially launching in this four-month pilot, and we hope that by being here at the Hub, we stay lean and innovative. So, focusing on exploring new ideas and experimenting with the new tech around here.

If things go well, yes, we plan to grow our presence within the Communitech family.