If you’re interested in technology in Canada, it’s hard to ignore the bright lights at either end of the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor. But at the epicenter of that corridor, Mississauga and the Peel Region is quietly establishing itself as an innovation hub for Advanced Manufacturing/Materials, the Internet of Things and Clean Technologies.
At Bump Into The Future, key players in the region came together to talk about the future of innovation in Ontario. The event also stressed the importance of collaboration between government, corporate and startups and its role in making Canada a global leader in technology.
In case you missed this great event, we’re going to cover some of the talking points discussed over the course of the morning. To keep up to date on what’s happening at RIC Centre, be sure to visit https://riccentre.ca/events/
Entrepreneur-in-Residence, RIC Centre
Continual innovation is critical for growth. Companies that fail to adapt to changes in technology, most likely find themselves overrun by a lively startup. It’s the classic David and Goliath story, happening around us every day.
Artificial Intelligence has been the latest emerging technology that can threaten companies now and in the future. It’s part of what Barter describes as a general purpose technology.
General purpose technologies are a base level of technology that can be applied to any industry or area of life.
Think of steam as an example. The steam engine led to the industrial revolution, which in turn disrupted every industry imaginable and gave us the cities we live in today.
Information Technology is the steam engine of today. With the development of personal computers, we’ve opened up the possibility of hundreds of applications for it, from Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, to the Internet of Things and Advanced Materials.
Big organizations can no longer feel safe in an environment ripe for disruption, not even banks. Apple and Google’s mobile payment systems are just as much a competitor for financial institutions as FinTech startups are. And the biggest competitor for airlines trying to target business travelers? Skype.
In the current technological landscape, competition can come from the most unlikely places. And if you’re not sold on the need for corporate innovation, just remember, 52% of Fortune 500 companies from 15 years ago don’t exist any more.
Chief Strategy and Growth Officer at the Greater Toronto Airport Authority
International traffic to Pearson International Airport has seen significant growth over the last year. Much of this is coming from emerging markets such as China, Russia and India.
These and other emerging markets are the perfect opportunity for the future of global connectivity and can have a direct impact on Canada’s economic development.
Kim Stangeby talked about the GTAA’s contribution to Toronto’s bid to house Amazon’s second global headquarters.
Toronto was named in the Top 20 finalists considered by Amazon and was the only non-American city on the list. This was largely in part to the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor’s connectivity to the rest of the world.
Most people may not realise how big a role Pearson plays in connecting the region to the rest of the world. But that’s not all they’re focusing on.
As part of a larger vision, the GTAA is also trying to alleviate congestion within the region by opening up roadways to the outskirts of Toronto, to places such as Mississauga, Vaughan and Richmond Hill. This can help business as a whole to operate more efficiently.
Dr. Paul Smith
Vice President, Xerox Global Labs
The Xerox Research Centre of Canada, is one of two research global research facilities for the company. In the last 40 years Xerox and Fuji Xerox have spent roughly $1 billion on research and development.
In 2012, the leadership at XRCC decided to open up a client services business so that they could use their expertise to help startups commercialize their products without any overhead costs for lab equipment. This also led to the partnership with RIC Centre to help nurture innovation in the region.
During his presentation, Dr. Paul Smith, touched on the topic of student-led startups. Canada leads the world in the number of student-led startups according to the OECD. And the growing innovation hub in the area is perfectly geared up to help these startups commercialize and scape up their ideas.
For example, two RIC Centre-supported startups, Suncayr and Anomera, moved to conduct much of their R&D in Mississauga.
The XRCC is also developing the Canadian Campus for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing with the National Research Council, who work closely with academic labs. Along with hub partners like the RIC Centre and others, there is unlimited potential for new startups to grow and scale up in the Peel Region.
Strategic Advisor, National Research Council Canada (Mississauga)
Advanced Materials underpins many emerging and disruptive technologies. Just like the general purpose technologies we covered earlier, advanced materials can be applied to many fields like robotics, 3D printing, IoT and more.
Diana Facchini, spoke on the $25 million facility being built on the Xerox campus. This is the first time in the NRC’s one-hundred-year history that it’s opening up a facility in the Greater Toronto Area.
The new NRC Mississauga Research Facility will be a hub for advanced materials manufacturing and integration in Canada and a catalyst for advanced materials innovation and commercialization.
Partnerships with industry, academia and government will help bridge the gap between R&D processes and commercializing products.
Last year, the National Research Council supported over 1000 small-to-medium enterprises and with the construction of the new Centre of Excellence Advanced Manufacturing and Materials, they hope to support even more in the coming years.
It’s all about collaboration
In a region that’s just outside the media spotlight, collaboration between government, industry and academia can go a long way to growing the innovation ecosystem in Ontario.
The next few years hold exciting promise for startups in advanced manufacturing and materials.