Innovation

Mayor Crombie supports Canadian Dream Summit with an inspiring keynote

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Mayor Crombie delivered the following speech at the Canadian Dream Summit in Toronto.
This conference is designed for meaningful collaboration between C-level executives, rapid growth scale-ups, and leaders in tech.

“Cities will continue to be where the promise of the Canadian Dream remains strong”

Good morning.

Thank you for the opportunity to be with you here today.

I’ve looked at the program and I am impressed by the vast talent and experience of the panellists and participants of this conference.

Canada’s future is definitely in good hands and I must say, it is as bright as it is limitless.

So, why is a Mayor on a stage talking to people from the tech industry?

A good question. It’s one I asked the organizers when they invited me to speak!

My answer is simple: Cities are where it’s at!

It’s in cities where innovation is happening; where ideas are colliding; where people from every country on Earth come together, live together, and work together…

The world comes to our doorstop and we in turn connect people to the world…

It is in cities where we see the manifestation of the Canadian Dream.

As the Mayor of one of the most diverse cities in Canada, I am seeing the Canadian experiment play out on a daily basis. And it’s a success.

We are home to almost 800,000 people from over 200 countries, speaking 150 languages. We live together in harmony.

But more importantly, this diversity sets us apart; it allows us to be innovative; to attract the best and the brightest; and to become leaders.

And, it is one of the key reasons Mississauga is the business capital of Canada.

Other mayors across the country will tell you a similar story about the importance of diversity to creating an environment where innovation can thrive, where new ideas can take hold, and where new businesses can grow and thrive.

So much of our focus is on federal and provincial programs to spur job growth and innovation.

They are necessary and they are working. But the results of these strategies are seen in cities.

As one of the hashtags for this conference says, “#CollaborateLocal”

It is in cities where the rubber hits the road so to speak; where federal and provincial money is put to work; where businesses and people put down roots; and where innovation occurs.

This is why it is critical that cities across the country embrace the 21st Century and become hubs of innovation themselves.

To foster an environment of innovation, we must embrace it ourselves.

Mississauga is not alone in doing this – cities across the country are becoming “smart” or “smarter”

Many of us competed in the federal government’s smart cities challenge last year.

We also actively compete against each other for talent and for the jobs and the businesses of the new economies.

It’s why Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo created the so-called “innovation corridor,”

While our name is not in the title, the innovation corridor runs right through Mississauga.

Toronto is now referred to by some as Maple North – okay, just the Economist! – and Waterloo bills itself as a tech hub…

…but Mississauga is quietly (too quietly for my liking) emerging as a tech hub in our own right.

We have over 700 tech companies – that’s more than Kitchener/Waterloo and Markham combined.

Cognizant, Point Click Care, SOTI, Samsung, HP, Microsoft, and many, many more call Mississauga home.

The next phase of our economic development strategy will focus primarily on growing our tech sector, fostering innovation, and putting in place the building blocks for the next generation of entrepreneurs and companies to thrive.

Mayors are competitive, to say the least…

…But when we try to do better and challenge each other, we ultimately end up elevating our nation.

Cities are the drivers of Canada’s economy.

We are nation-builders.

Government is notorious for lagging behind the curve. We are always playing catch-up to where industry is, and where it is going

I would argue that cities are more nimble than any other level of government.

We have to be. We don’t have the deep pockets of the federal or provincial governments. We cannot offer grants or subsidies.

What we can offer is an environment for business to grow. We can offer partnerships. And, we can offer a willingness to get things done.

Like cities across Canada, Mississauga embracing technology and working to frankly, keep up with the growth in the tech sector.

We want to be a smart city – in fact, we are developing Smart City Master Plan

We are becoming smart in how we operate – using IOT and our data sets to better plan our cities, our transit, and address traffic. In fact, over 700 of our vehicles are already connected

We are leading the way in putting over 150 data sets online for anyone to use. Through the hack-a-thons we have hosted, new apps have been developed and new businesses formed.

Data is only useful if it is liberated for all to use

We are connecting our people in all public spaces to WiFi because we believe internet access is now an essential service

Last year alone over 8 million hours of free wifi was provided in all our public buildings, and at 200 bus shelters

Through district wifi, our four Business Improvement Areas and our downtown are now fully connected

It is my goal that our downtown core become the most connected square kilometre in Canada

We are laying our own fibre optic cables across our city to provide connectivity to residents and businesses

We are partnering with our local post-secondary the skills being taught in class with those required by industry

We’re working with other governments and the private sector to build innovation hubs, accelerators, and commercialization spaces for new ideas and entrepreneurs to grow

We are forming partnerships with industry to advance our collective interests.

As Mayor, I want our city to be a living lab – a place where we can issue a public call to industry to help us solve our problems quickly and innovatively.

We are seeing this already happen in other North American cities and I want to bring this model to Canada

Fostering an environment where innovation thrives only works if as a city, we embrace and make use of the new technologies

We can be a safe place to test new technology

Perhaps the most important thing municipalities can do is prioritize the tech sector, listen to companies and entrepreneurs, and provide them with the resources they need to succeed

Sometimes this means just getting out of their way!

Government is never going to keep up with industry, but we can help business and those with ideas bring their vision to reality…

…another hashtag of this conference

The technologies of the future are not just disrupting traditional industries or customer experiences…they are also fundamentally changing long-held policies

Cities face a difficult challenge embracing disruptive technologies within existing paradigms

Perhaps the most obvious example has been Uber.

As cities, we regulate and to a large extent, protect the taxi industry

For decades the public vehicle policy followed the same model.

That is, until Uber came along and blew it out of the water. Uber’s presence in the marketplace marked a seismic shift

It changed consumer behaviour, but also forced us to change policy and make a tough decision – should we regulate and embrace this new, disruptive technology

If you watch the news, you know that this was not an easy decision for local governments to make. Some still haven’t made it.

There are more examples like Uber and they are growing every year.

Our policy and decision-making frameworks have to change to keep up with disruptive technology

The changes to our market place are at times frenetic. They don’t mesh well with institutions like government

So, as local governments, we walk a tight rope. We support innovation and the next generation of technology – in fact we crave it for our local economic growth

At the same time, we face challenges putting these new technologies in our existing legislative boxes.

We have to change, adapt, and be ready to embrace what’s next. That is the challenge we face

While technology is reshaping our world in so many ways, it is also levelling the playing field.

It is breaking down racial, economic, social, and so many other barriers that once existed

Whether Twitter has improved our public discourse is a topic of fierce debate, but that it has given everyone a voice is undisputable.

Technology has the potential to reshape our society for the better – to bring us together

It is no coincidence that those nations that embrace innovation are also those where diversity flourishes. The two go hand in hand

Mississauga, like so many cities in Canada, succeeds because of our diversity of talent

As a society, we are better together.

Walls do not spur innovation

Those that divide do a disservice to themselves and their people and ultimately pay an economic price

I would encourage all of you here today who are on the leading edge of the technologies and economies of tomorrow to keep as your guiding principle the need to make society whole – to strengthen social bonds; improve lives; and bring people together.

We need to bridge the digital divide and ensure everyone is connected

As a Mayor, it is exciting to watch this happen in my community and an increasing pace

Municipal governments are your natural partners. We will be the leaders of the 21stCentury.

Our most important role – as national and state governments are increasingly embracing the policies of division and closing off borders – is to remain open, inclusive places where everyone is welcome, where ideas can collide, and where innovation can thrive.

Cities will continue to be where the promise of the Canadian Dream remains strong.

Thank you.”

"Canada needs more external capital": Jennifer Jackson, Capital One Canada

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Jennifer R. Jackson, President of Capital One Canada, leads their Canadian business with a transformational leadership style and a passion for building diverse and inclusive teams

1.     When you reflect upon your career path, is there a defining moment that influenced where you are today? 

… all the major turning points that influenced where I am today occurred when I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

While a single defining moment doesn’t stand out, all the major turning points that influenced where I am today occurred when I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. Although an engineer by training, I transitioned to management consulting early in my career. During that time, I worked in different industries and across various international markets. I pivoted sharply again when I joined Capital One’s credit card business with no experience in lending products or financial services. I was impressed with the company’s data driven approach to business, and believed that my quantitative skills and strategy background would serve me well as entered an entirely new field. Fortunately, pushing myself and my openness to learn from everyone around me helped me thrive in that new environment. 

 

Learning and gaining fresh perspectives continues to be crucial to my success. My current role leading our Canadian business allows me to see financial services in a different country and cultural context. This has pushed me in yet another new direction which I’m sure will influence where I’ll be tomorrow. 

 Canada has an incredible wealth of talented students and scientists at its universities

2.     Canada’s tech ecosystem is vibrant and rapidly expanding. Looking back, which factors in your view have driven this expansion? What do you think can be done to accelerate this further? 

Canada has been an innovator and leader in the AI space for many years. MaRS Discovery District is an example of Canada-backed focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. Leaders across Canada have embraced the important role of technology in the economic growth of the country. They have played an active role in the growth and expansion of talent within the tech ecosystem. Canada has an incredible wealth of talented students and scientists at its universities and most are sought after by leading technology companies across the globe. 

#DreamGlobal… leaders and companies can’t achieve great things if they box themselves in instead of expanding their horizons.

3.     Canadian Dream Summit aspires to a Canada where everyone is able to pursue and achieve their greatest ambitions. Three principles guide us: #VisionToReality, #CollaborateLocal, #DreamGlobal. Which one of these resonates the most with your work? 

#DreamGlobal is one that resonates the most because I believe that leaders and companies can’t achieve great things if they box themselves in instead of expanding their horizons. I’ve worked in several different countries, and the learning, insight, and cultural differences help bring valuable perspectives and solutions.

 Canada needs more external capital coming in to fund and, more importantly, drive the scaling-up of firms.

4.     If you had three wishes for Canada’s tech ecosystem in 2019, what would they be and who would they impact? 

1. Continued aggressive investment in start-ups:Canada needs more external capital coming in to fund and, more importantly, drive the scaling-up of firms. Canada needs to grow more "unicorns" (e.g., >$1B market cap), too. While start-ups are becoming more common in Canada, very few (e.g., Blackberry, Shopify) ever achieved that status before being acquired or leveling off in growth, which is critical to compete with markets like China and the U.S.

2. Prepare the next generation of leaders in technology: With Canada's growth of technology talent, we also need to concentrate on the development of a next generation of senior level technology leaders who can help the tech ecosystem expand even further in the global marketplace.

3. Expand our presence in the global tech marketplace as a leader and source of incredible engineering talent: We need to be a premier destination location for major technology innovators that will also spawn additional investments in education, research and major international technology conferences held in Canada

5.   What do you see as a significant area of untapped opportunity for Canadian tech? 

Canada needs more diverse representation in technology talent. While Canada has a diverse culture, we continue to experience low representation of that diversity in tech. Teams with diverse representation are better in so many ways when building customer products and services. We need to help develop a better representation set of technologists, engineers, scientists and mathematicians, in order for us to stay ahead of the pace of change in today’s world.

Canada needs more diverse representation in technology talent…. in order for us to stay ahead of the pace of change in today’s world.

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Jennifer R. Jackson will be speaking at Canadian Dream Summit on February 19th in Toronto. To reserve a ticket, click here.

#DreamGlobal #BuildtoGreatness: Abdullah Snobar, The DMZ

ABDULLAH SNOBAR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE DMZ     Responsible for the strategic direction and continued growth of the DMZ, he leads in helping Canada's most promising startups scale their companies and create innovative technology that changes lives. DMZ is a world leading tech accelerator.

ABDULLAH SNOBAR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE DMZ

Responsible for the strategic direction and continued growth of the DMZ, he leads in helping Canada's most promising startups scale their companies and create innovative technology that changes lives. DMZ is a world leading tech accelerator.


1. When you reflect upon your career path, is there a defining moment that influenced where you are today?


A defining moment for me was moving from London to Toronto in 2005.


2. Canada’s tech ecosystem is vibrant and rapidly expanding. Looking back, which factors in your view have driven this expansion?


From the DMZ’s perspective, I would say our organization’s values: founders first, equity over everything and be great,  are contributing factors to the expansion.

What do you think can be done to accelerate this further?

A stronger global perspective

A stronger focus on putting founders first

Increased stakeholder support from corporates and all levels of government


3. Canadian Dream Summit aspires to a Canada where everyone is able to pursue and achieve their greatest ambitions. Three principles guide us: #VisionToReality, #CollaborateLocal, #DreamGlobal. Which one of these resonates the most with your work?


#DreamGlobal #BuildtoGreatness

4. If you had three wishes for Canada’s tech ecosystem in 2019, what would they be and who would they impact?

My three wishes for Canada’s tech ecosystem in 2019 would be:

  1. Create more Canada’s unicorn startups.

  2. Double down on talent.

  3. Become a less risk-averse innovation economy.


5. What do you see as a significant area of untapped opportunity for Canadian tech?

We have all the ingredients to be the best in the world. It’s time to take risks, believe in ourselves and sell the Canadian story to the globally.

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Abdullah Snobar, Executive Director at The DMZ, will be speaking at Canadian Dream Summit on February 19th in Toronto. To reserve a ticket, click here.

“To the doers.” Siri Agrell, Managing Director at 111


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Siri Agrell is Managing Director at OneEleven, a vibrant community of high-performing technology scaleups.

 I wanted to be challenged, to contribute, to push myself and always be a little out of my depth.


1.     When you reflect upon your career path, is there a defining moment that influenced where you are today? 

I remember sitting on a dock at a friend’s cottage in 2012. At the time, I was the urban affairs reporter at the Globe and Mail. A few days earlier I had been walking to get lunch and answered a call from a number I didn’t know. It was a woman asking if I’d like to come and work for a provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs, Kathleen Wynne. I had met with her the next day and on the way up north on Friday night, she had called and offered me a job, starting a week later. They needed to know by Sunday. I got to the cottage and found there was no wifi or cell service – the decision would be made without outside input. I remember looking out at the water and thinking about what I wanted and what I was afraid of. I wanted to be challenged, to contribute, to push myself and always be a little out of my depth. I wanted career progression, to learn. And all I was really scared of was the unknown. Would I be good at it? Would it be rewarding? Would it be too hard? Deciding to change careers, to me, is like standing on the edge of a dock. You need to believe in your abilities, understand the conditions – what’s behind you and what’s in front - and then, if it’s right, dive in. No dipping your toes. I remember knowing that I was going to jump, and that it was going to be okay. Since then I’ve had the most incredible moments of my career. I’ve learned so much, had incredible opportunities and the chance to really contribute. It’s led me to things I never would have contemplated. All because I stood on that dock and decided to dive in head first. 

… making sure our home-grown tech was prioritized, celebrated and supported too. 

2.     Canada’s tech ecosystem is vibrant and rapidly expanding. Looking back, which factors in your view have driven this expansion? What do you think can be done to accelerate this further? 

The weekend that Donald Trump announced the travel ban in the US, I was working for Toronto Mayor John Tory, where I had responsibilities for the tech sector, innovation and modernization. I started getting messages from US based tech companies saying they had hundreds of employees on H1-B visas, asking if they could potentially bring them to Toronto. That same weekend, more than 2000 leaders from the Canadian tech sector wrote an open letter stating that they “stand together in opposition to the marginalization of people based on their birthplace, race, or religion.” That was definitely a TSN turning point for the growth of the Canadian tech ecosystem, but it wouldn’t have mattered if the fundamentals weren’t already strong: deep and broad technical knowledge and expertise driven by our education system and diverse population; investment and collaborative support from all levels of government and private sector players; and a community of founders focused on building scaling companies in Canada, and keeping everyone honest about not over-indexing on multi-national entities but making sure our home-grown tech was prioritized, celebrated and supported too.

 I once got a card from a friend who worked at Andreessen Horowitz that was signed “To the doers.”

3.     Canadian Dream Summit aspires to a Canada where everyone is able to pursue and achieve their greatest ambitions. Three principles guide us: #VisionToReality, #CollaborateLocal, #DreamGlobal. Which one of these resonates the most with your work? 

They’re all important but I’d say #VisionToReality. My main take away from my career so far is that some people talk and some people do. Implementation is hard. Building things is hard. Turning an idea into a product, a company, an industry – that’s insanely hard. At OneEleven I’d say we’re dedicated to helping tech companies bring their vision to reality, to help them scale into something lasting, sustainable and impactful. I once got a card from a friend who worked at Andreessen Horowitz that was signed “To the doers.” I kept it up on my office wall when I had walls, but I carry that message with me every day.

 Implementation is hard. Building things is hard. Turning an idea into a product, a company, an industry – that’s insanely hard.

4.     If you had three wishes for Canada’s tech ecosystem in 2019, what would they be and who would they impact? 

  1. That corporations and governments would get their shit together on procurement. Tech companies are just new solution providers, new vendors with potentially better ways of doing things. Buy from them. If we procured from the tech sector as much as we namechecked innovation, our ecosystem would be unstoppable.

  2. That investors continue to seriously engage with the inherent bias that might prevent female founders from accessing capital, clients and opportunity.  

  3. More vowels in company names.

 We have the chance to continue building a tech sector that thinks a bit differently.

5.     What do you see as a significant area of untapped opportunity for Canadian tech? 

A group of California VCs once told the Mayor that “Toronto has the opportunity to avoid the mistakes of the Valley”. They were referring to issues of housing affordability and mobility that came with the intense scale of San Francisco’s tech sector. But I think that statement stands for our tech sector writ large. We have the chance to continue building a tech sector that thinks a bit differently. That prioritizes teams as well as founders, that thinks about impact as well as IPOs, that leverages diversity strategically and meaningfully. 

Siri Agrell is a featured guest in the Expert Zone at Canadian Dream Summit on February 19th in Toronto. To reserve a ticket, click here.

Mayor Bonnie Crombie: "Cities power the nation"

Bonnie Crombie, is the Mayor of Mississauga, Canada’s sixth largest city, an international destination that embodies vibrancy and diversity of culture.

1.    When you reflect upon your career path, is there a defining moment that influenced where you are today? 

 My family greatly shaped who I am today and my decision to pursue a life in public service. 

 My mother was born in Poland and my grandparents immigrated to Canada from Europe in the late 1940s to give her, and ultimately me, the opportunity for a better life here in Canada. Like many immigrants, they passed along their values of hard work, determination and perseverance. They sacrificed so much for our family and in return, I wanted to live up to their expectations and not let them down.

Pursuing a career in public service gave me the ability to not only make a difference and give back to my community but to make my family proud and prove that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

 I truly believe that cities power the nation… In cities people dream, think big, innovate, collaborate and connect.

2.    Canada’s tech ecosystem is vibrant and rapidly expanding. Looking back, which factors in your view have driven this expansion? What do you think can be done to accelerate this further? 

First and foremost, it is our diverse and highly skilled talent pool. Canada brings together people from around the world, provides them access to some of the best educational institutions in the world, and allows them the opportunity to innovate and take their ideas from concept to commercialization. We must continue to invest in education, especially in the STEM/STEAM fields. We also need to ensure that graduates have the ability to innovate and commercialize their ideas here in Canada and that the IP produced stays here. 

 Talent should know no borders. 

3.    Canadian Dream Summit aspires to a Canada where everyone is able to pursue and achieve their greatest ambitions. Three principles guide us: #VisionToReality, #Collaborate Local, #DreamGlobal. Which one of these resonates the most with your work? 

#CollaborateLocal. I truly believe that cities power the nation and that our local communities play a critical role in the future of our country and our innovation ecosystem. In cities people dream, think big, innovate, collaborate and connect. We build the infrastructure needed to build a business and we welcome people from every part of the world. 

We welcome people from every part of the world. 

4.    If you had three wishes for Canada’s tech ecosystem in 2019, what would they be and who would they impact? 

1.     Continue to support and empower more women to pursue careers in tech.

2.     Emerge as the leading destination for commercialization in the world.

3.     Pioneer disruptive technology that makes our global economy more interconnected and changes how we interact with the world, for examples, BitCoin, Uber and Netflix.

5.   What do you see as a significant area of untapped opportunity for Canadian tech? 

Continue to foster and embrace diversity. In a world where walls are replacing open borders and divisions are being stoked, those that want to succeed need to embrace openness and diversity. Talent should know no borders. 

Mayor Crombie will be speaking at Canadian Dream Summit on February 19th in Toronto. To reserve a ticket, click here.