Shocked and excited is how Unlimi-Tech Software CEO and co-founder Chris Bailey describes his reaction to the announcement last January that the small Ottawa-based company had won one of North America's most prestigious television awards.

"As a young tech entrepreneur just starting out, winning an Emmy is not one of the things you set your sights on," he said in a recent telephone interview. "It was the first time an award had been presented in this category, which demonstrates how indispensable software such as FileCatalyst has become to the industry."

What FileCatalyst does is allow huge, multi-gigabyte digital files such as high-definition video to be transferred securely half-way around the world in seconds rather than hours. During the Sochi Olympics, for example, NBC Sports used FileCatalyst to deliver HD video coverage “live” from the shores of the Black Sea to North American viewers with virtually no time-lag.

And it's not just broadcasters that are integrating FileCatalyst technology into their networks. Oil and gas exploration companies use it to move massive geo-data files from the field to the lab. Healthcare institutions use it to share highly detailed medical images such as MRIs. The military uses it too. Exactly how they are using it, Bailey admits, "We didn't ask."

Founded in 2000, Unlimi-Tech is one of the pioneers in the accelerated file transfer market, building on the original file transfer protocol (FTP) technology first developed in the 1970s.

"Our goal was to make FTP easier to deploy within an organization," Bailey recalls. "By 2004, we were seeing a significant shift in the market from physical to digital media. Files were getting larger and bandwidth constraints were becoming an issue. We started investigating ways to move files faster."

Two years later, Unlimi-Tech took FileCatalyst to NAB, the world's largest annual convention for broadcasters. Within a few years, FileCatalyst made its debut at similar industry events in the UK, India and Asia. Today, Unlimi-Tech has more than 1,000 customers with a user base of more than 1 million.

For growing companies like Unlimi-Tech, Ottawa – home to 2,700 IT companies – offers a business environment that is hard to beat.

"We have no problem finding educated, experienced tech-savvy employees in Ottawa and the R&D tax credits and other business programs available in Ontario have been a big help," Bailey says. "I've talked with a number of international companies who moved a significant portion of their operations to Ontario just so they could take advantage of the business climate here."

In many ways, winning an Emmy validates years of hard work by Bailey, his co-founding partner John Tkaczewski, and all the staff at Unlimi-Tech. At the same time, it may be just the beginning of a new era for the company. HD and 4K video streaming is accelerating the demand for faster and faster file transfers. Who knows? There may be more red-carpet moments in the future for Unlimi-Tech.

photo of award recipients
Unlimi-Tech wins Emmy award, January 2015. From left to right: John Enzinas, Christian Charette, John Tkaczewski, Chris Bailey, Dave McKeen and Elton Carneiro

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