NB Innovation Week & Cybersecurity

FREDERICTON'S CULTURE OF INNOVATION

Gleaner Column

Chapter 4 – New Brunswick Innovation Week & Spotlight on Cybersecurity


Last month’s column was directed to the parents, policy-makers/politicians and educators, who are in a position to help shape and influence New Brunswick’s future.  This starts with early education - ensuring our children get the required skills to keep them on a path of realizing opportunities. Literacy is fundamental, as is equipping youth with digital skills, like coding, to meet the projected workforce demand for 182,000 ICT jobs in Canada by 2019 (ICTC).

So how do we inspire innovation to fuel our future workforce, and to create the Resson Aerospaces and Smartskins of tomorrow?  New Brunswick Innovation Week is a step in the right direction.

The Premier’s second annual Innovation Week will take place during the week of May 2nd, 2016.  On behalf of the Province and through the support of partners, Ignite Fredericton, the community’s economic development catalyst agency, is coordinating New Brunswick Innovation Week.

The 2016 week will comprise of innovation-focused content targeting youth, academia and business:

• Youth Day will take place Tuesday, May 3rd targeting high school students from Fredericton High, Leo Hayes and Oromocto.  The event is intended to inspire the students towards a culture of innovation, to carve their own career path, and to pursue career opportunities where there will be future workforce demand.  Ignite is in the process of confirming speakers for this exciting half-day event.

• Academia/Research Day will take place on Wednesday, May 4th, targeting the research and academic community.  It will also be open to the public, to give the business community an opportunity to learn about some of the leading edge research taking place at the post-secondary school level.

• Business Day will take place on Thursday, May 5th designed to showcase the 18 KIRA finalists through a mini trade show. The community will have an opportunity to learn first-hand about these game-changing companies and organizations.  The celebratory, culminating event of the week will be the 18th annual KIRA awards – recognizing outstanding innovation and achievement among all sectors, not just ICT.  During the day, there will also be some other featured content including a keynote speaker – still in development.  For the first time ever, the KIRA Awards will feature a new reception type format.

The nominations process has just opened for the KIRA Awards, so be sure to nominate businesses and public sector organizations among the following categories:
o Most Promising Startup
o Innovative New Product or Service (private sector)
o Economic Impact through Employment Growth
o Premier’s Innovation Award (public sector)
o Premier’s Innovation Award (private sector)

For more information, to nominate (by March 31st), and book your tickets, please visit here
Be sure to mark your calendars for the 2016 NB Innovation Week!  Watch the Ignite Fredericton website for more news and information, as it becomes readily available.

In future articles, we will explore innovation happening in a number of growth sectors.  Foundational to this work, was a new investment attraction strategy developed by Ignite Fredericton during the spring of 2015.  The strategy focussed on the following four major growth sectors plus a number of sub-sectors.  In this article, we will take a closer look at cybersecurity.

o Information/Communications Technology [Cybersecurity, Big Data, Geomatics/GPS/Avionics]
o Natural Resources
o Biotechnology
o Engineering/Environmental Services

As part of our strategy, cybersecurity was identified as a key growth area due to the estimated $1.6 trillion associated cost of online security and privacy violations. There is a tremendous amount of confidential information being shared digitally, which is being compromised and attacked.  Threats range from malware, stolen identities, financial fraud, pilfer of intellectual property and websites, etc.   As a result, cybersecurity will continue to be an escalating concern for business and society.  It presents an opportunity for Fredericton given the wealth of existing assets present at the University of New Brunswick (UNB).  Through UNB’s Information Security Centre of Excellence (ISCX), there is an established team of researchers – led by Dr. Ali Ghorbani-Dean of Computer Science, and Dr. Natalia Stakanova-NB Innovation Chair in Cybersecurity.  Dr. Ghorbani is currently leading an initiative to establish a Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity, which will put UNB and Fredericton at the forefront of cybersecurity on a national scale.

We also have local companies, like IBM, Raytheon, Sentrant, Bulletproof Solutions, Ara Labs, playing a global role in digital security, and who are here due to the supportive ecosystem, extensive research and development capacity and advanced digital infrastructure.  There is tremendous opportunity to continue to grow this sub-sector of ICT – stay tuned!

Laurie Guthrie, EcD, BIS
Economic Development & Marketing Specialist
Ignite Fredericton | Knowledge Park | Planet Hatch
www.ignitefredericton.com

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What’s in the Secret Sauce at Planet Hatch?

No doubt you are aware of names like TechStars, MaRS, DMZ and YCombinator who are leading in the space of business incubation and acceleration in major cities.  What you may not be aware of is the high rate of innovation happening in our very own Planet Hatch, which was modelled after prominent accelerators across North America.

Since its birth in September 2013, New Brunswick’s flagship business accelerator has been fostering an environment to spur creativity and innovation, and it has supported over 156 companies.  There’s a real entrepreneurial buzz at Knowledge Park, as Planet Hatch continues to output new startup companies like WEnTech, Chinova Bioworks, Kognitiv Spark, and there’s more to come.  

Through the recent federal and provincial  funding announcement, $374,000 has been allocated to support the alignment of entrepreneurial services within the ecosystem, and the next iteration of activities, which we like to call “Planet Hatch 2.0”.

Through the consolidation of operations and streamlining of services with Ignite Fredericton and Knowledge Park, Planet Hatch now offers a full suite of startup-related services like business counselling, coaching, mentoring, and funding. Within this one-stop-shop, there are also eight incubation and acceleration programs currently being run by partners - serving all sectors: 

 

PropelICT offers an early stage acceleration program for ICT companies.

Pond-Deshpande offers their B4Change accelerator for social enterprise.

JEDI offers a program to support aboriginal economic development.

ArtsLinks offers its Catapult business incubator to aspiring artists.

UNB’s International Business & Entrepreneurship Centre (IBEC) offers the Activator, which is a student startup leadership program.

Fredericton Chamber of Commerce runs its Hive and Business Immigrant Mentorship Program - incubator for newcomer entrepreneurs.

Planet Hatch/Ignite offers Export Igniter, a new acceleration program designed to equip export ready companies with entering international markets.

CyberLaunch Academy runs programming to  introduce children to coding and computer science.

 

Add to this over 20 entrepreneurial organizations through the Task Force Fredericton Startup Network, whose members are working towards strategically aligning their services based on the phases of business: ideation, validation, growth and maturity.  This model has been coined the ‘Subway’, and essentially it does not matter where the entrepreneur stops along the Subway, as they can be easily transferred to other tracks/required service agencies based on their needs.  This group has also established a common calendar platform where the community can access all entrepreneurial related programming and event information. Check it out here

Planet Hatch has also formed some strategic partnerships.  Recently, thirteen entrepreneurial service providers in the Atlantic region came together to create the Atlantic Canada Entrepreneurial Services Passport (‘Passport’).  Passport members are jointly cross-promoting events, sharing best practices, opening their doors to partners’ members, and assisting entrepreneurs throughout the Maritimes.  This unique initiative resulted from a collaboration between Planet Hatch and ConnexionWorks to improve the entrepreneurial resources for startups across Atlantic Canada.  Partnering locations include:

Business Portals, St. John’s, NL

CO3 Space, Bridgewater, NS

Common Ground, St. John’s, NL

ConnexionWorks, Saint John, NB

The HUB South Shore, Mahone Bay, NS

Impactory, Moncton, NB

LaunchPad, Charlottetown, PEI

New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation, Sydney, NS

North Queens, Caledonia, NS

Planet Hatch, Fredericton, NB

Sackville Commons Co-op, Sackville, NB

Social Enterprise Hub, Saint John, NB

Startup Zone, Charlottetown, PEI

The Ville Cooperative, Marysville, NB

Workspace Atlantic, Moncton, NB

 

Planet Hatch has also formed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the University of New Brunswick’s Faculty of Business to enable student experiential learning from the centre.  As well, the Hatch has partnered with Ryerson’s DMZ business incubator in Toronto and the Walnut Accelerator in Chengdu, China to create a soft landing zone in each other’s provinces, while enabling their members to access expertise and resources during their travels.

One of Planet Hatch’s unique differentiators is that it is the only New Brunswick incubator/accelerator to offer Canada’s new Startup Visa program geared towards attracting and retaining international entrepreneurial talent.

So what’s in the secret sauce within Fredericton’s entrepreneurial hub - collaboration!  It’s that simple with the multitude of organizations who are engaged with a common vision of driving entrepreneurial growth and development.

It’s why we were named the 2016 ‘Startup Capital of Canada’ by Startup Canada!

It’s why Planet Hatch and Ignite Fredericton churned out 48 new startup companies translating to 327 jobs and $26.4 million in GDP during 2016 with many of these companies making multiple stops along the Subway.

During 2016, Planet Hatch ran over 76 programs and events for startups, and over 44 community events.  If you have not yet visited the center, check out our website;  come up and take a tour; network over Startup Drinks; parktake in our open co-working hours on Wednesdays; and enjoy some food during our pancake breakfasts or ‘food truck thursdays’.  Maybe you will even get inspired to start a business!

Laurie Guthrie, EcD, BIS

Economic Development & Marketing Specialist

Ignite Fredericton | Knowledge Park | Planet Hatch

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Planting the Seeds of Continuous Growth

FREDERICTON'S CULTURE OF INNOVATION

Gleaner Column

Chapter 3 – ‘Planting the seeds for continuous growth’

The last two columns provided some historical context on how Fredericton earned its global brand equity as a ‘smart city’ through diversification from a government/university town to a thriving knowledge-based economy.  The building blocks were significant investment in digital infrastructure, and building a ‘knowledge corridor’, known today at the Innovation District, anchored by Knowledge Park and the University of New Brunswick.

As I suggested last month, I truly believe that the knowledge industry is our equivalent to Alberta’s oil sands with such a large number of knowledge-based companies located in the Fredericton Region.  The continuous growth of this sector is what carried us through the recession, and is where we will see future growth and good paying jobs tomorrow.

(Disclaimer: This article was written before the Premier’s State of the Province Address.)

As a mother, I can certainly relate to all the parents who worry about their children’s future in New Brunswick. This article is directed to the parents, policy-makers/politicians and educators, who are in a position to help shape and influence New Brunswick’s future.  This starts with early education - ensuring our children get the required skills to keep them on a path of realizing opportunities.

It does not take a rocket scientist to understand where the skill shortages are - just go onto NB Jobs to see the long list of unfilled positions - particularly related to the information technology sector.  The national Information & Communications Technology Council (ICTC) has stated that by this year, 95% of jobs will require digital skills, and there will be demand for 182,000 ICT jobs in Canada by 2019.  These are high paying jobs, which go on to support the economy and other sectors like retail and housing. 

So let’s stop the negative, doom and gloom chatter about lack of jobs.  There are lots of jobs and opportunities in New Brunswick; however, as parents, we need to steer our children in the right direction, and policy makers and educators need to ensure our children are being properly equip for the future workforce.

Fundamentally, we understand that literacy is number one.  A literate, young population paves the road for future success.  According to Elementary Literacy Inc., one in five New Brunswick children are falling behind in reading by the end of grade two.  Without educational intervention, these children are at-risk of ongoing academic challenges and are less likely to graduate than children who achieve grade two-level success.  Early intervention is key, and we need to ensure New Brunswick schools are equipped with the necessary support programs, resources and services.  With a solid foundation in literacy, students are able to later move on to more complex STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math), which opens a world of opportunity for our youth.

Secondly, let’s ask ourselves - what do New Brunswick children need education-wise to meet the increasing demand of a digital world?  With 106,000 unfilled tech jobs this year in Canada, innovation pioneer, David Alston, is on the right track, leading the Code Kids movement.

In 2013, Alston and René Boudreau travelled to Estonia and Finland to explore how these countries integrated coding and technology into their elementary education programs - creating a mega talent pipeline that has supported the booming growth of their information technology sector boasting names like Skype and Nokia.

The Code Kids movement and documentary helped kick off Brilliant Labs, which is an initiative designed to give educators tools and resources to offer coding in New Brunswick classrooms.

Here are a few useful links if you are interested in learning more:

Code Kids
NB Jobs
Brilliant Labs
Ladies Learning Code
Kids Learning Code
Hour of Code

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In future columns, we will be looking at other industries bubbling with innovation like natural resource development with $8.6 billion in projected investment for the mega projects pending approvals. These projects along with others will have a peak employment demand of 8,600 positions from 2017-18, and 28,000 by 2025. 

So parents, let’s look at where the opportunities lie, and steer our children towards the opportunities of tomorrow!
Laurie Guthrie, EcD, BIS
Economic Development & Marketing Specialist
Ignite Fredericton | Knowledge Park | Planet Hatch
www.ignitefredericton.com

View Chapter 1 | Chapter 2

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'May the 4th Be With You'

Last month’s column highlighted ‘Innovation Season’, and our upcoming KIRAs (Knowledge and Innovation Recognition Awards) on May 4th, celebrating excellence in technological, social and economic innovation across all sectors and industries in New Brunswick.  The KIRAs also mark the official kick-off to NB Innovation Week!

This year’s event will give a nod to “May the 4th Be with You” day  with a galaxy glam spin.  Don’t expect people to be wielding light sabers or to see Darth Vader, but you can expect lots of lights and sparkle during this optimal networking event.  The KIRA galaxy will be emceed by the award-winning Canadian comedy couple Naomi Snieckus & Matt Baramand, and will feature special musical guest, DJ SirK.

If you have not already checked out the 21 KIRA finalists  - here’s a short run-down of New Brunswick’s most innovative companies and organizations within their nominated category:

ECONOMIC IMPACT THROUGH INNOVATION:
Bulletproof - A consulting firm, which provides end-to-end business solutions like security, network operations, quality assurance/testing, integration, education and product fulfillment.

Construction Navale Atlantique - A shipbuilding company creating the vessel of the future by reducing carbon footprint, increasing efficiency and improving the quality of fished goods.

LuminUltra Technologies Ltd. - Provides microbial monitoring solutions that deliver real-time feedback on microbiological content in water.

INNOVATION  CHAMPION:
Budworm Tracker (Canadian Forest Service) - An innovative citizen science program that provides volunteer opportunity to engage with scientists in monitoring the most significant forest pest in eastern Canada, the spruce budworm.

UNB Institute of Biomedical Engineering - Plays a key role in the research and development that engendered the first myoelectric upper limb prostheses in North America, and remains a world leader in advanced myoelectric artificial limbs.

Succession Connect/Fredericton Chamber of Commerce - An innovative new pilot created by the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce to support, retain and increase new Canadian investors in New Brunswick, which in turn supports economic growth.

MOST INNOVATIVE PRODUCT OR SERVICE:
Amiko Electrical/PLC Control System & Consulting Inc. - Designs, tests and manufactures custom components, troubleshoots and improves the efficiency of existing equipment.

Lizotte Machine Vision - Develops and manufactures custom-built quality control, grading, and sorting equipment for the global food processing industry.

Soricimed Biopharma Inc. - A private, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, which focuses on developing first-in-class targeted cancer therapies, peptide-drug conjugates and a cancer companion diagnostic.

INNOVATION  THROUGH TECHNOLOGY:
ADI Systems - With over 35 years of experience, a global leader in industrial wastewater treatment and waste-to-energy solutions.

EhEye Inc. - Improves public safety and security using artificially intelligent video analytics and automating the extraction of objects, persons, activities and behaviours of interest from streaming video.

SimpTek Technologies Inc. - Connects utilities and property owners with customers to discover powerful insights on energy usage and efficiency.

MOST INNOVATIVE START-UP:
Chinova Bioworks - Develops natural preservatives, using a product called chitosan, with the goal of solving the common problem of microbial contamination.

EhEye Inc. - Improves public safety and security using artificially intelligent video analytics and automating the extraction of objects, persons, activities and behaviours of interest from streaming video.

Kognitiv Spark Inc. - An augmented and mixed reality solutions and software development company.

PREMIER’S AWARD FOR INNOVATION (PRIVATE SECTOR):
CyberNB / International Cyber Security Protection Alliance - This partnership brought Cyber Essentials to Canada - a certification standard to aid in mitigating against up to 80% of common internet-based cyber threats.

Northern Hardwoods Research Institute Inc. -  An innovative partnership between the private forest sector, governments and Université de Moncton, which was created out of need to conduct applied research - providing immediate solutions for the sustainable and feasible management of hardwood forests.

Research & Productivity Council - New Brunswick’s research and technology organization, comprised of 98 scientists, engineers and technologists, focused on business-led research (innovation) and analytical services (testings and inspections).

PREMIER’S AWARD FOR INNOVATION (PUBLIC SECTOR):
CyberNB (Opportunities New Brunswick) - CyberNB is a special operating agency of Opportunities NB, which is deploying Canada’s first comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, focused on collaboration with industry, government and academia to build on New Brunswick’s position as the cybersecurity epicentre of Canada.

Integrated Service Delivery (ISD) for Children and Youth - A framework, which provides services and programs to children and youth (aged 0-21) having significant social, emotional and/or mental-health needs.

NBDTI Design Branch & UNB Civil Engineering Dept. -  A collaborative partnership, which developed a solution for the inspection of departmental assets, which have difficult and dangerous access problems.

If you would like to learn more about these amazing, innovative companies - book your KIRA tickets today

Don’t forget that there will also be a special showcase of the KIRA nominees during the day, as well as a FREE luncheon, presented by Ignite Fredericton, Enterprise Saint John, 3plus Corporation, to kick-off the KIRA awards focused on ‘Debunking the Innovation Myth’. Learn why businesses from all industries need to step outside of operations and consider how they can apply innovation to reinvent and re-invigorate their business.  Krista Han from Grant Thornton will moderate this session with New Brunswick’s Chief Economist, David Campbell, and Dr. Herb Emery with the University of New Brunswick.  Register today

With support from ACOA and ONB, the KIRAs are hosted by Knowledge Park and made possible through the generous support of our Gold Sponsors (Bell Aliant, NBIF, UNB, EY, McInnes Cooper, Salesforce), Silver sponsors (Oracle, PQA Testing, Crowne Plaza), and the Friends of KIRA (Remsoft, ROC Consulting).

See you in the KIRA galaxy - May the fourth be with you!


Laurie Guthrie, EcD, BIS

Economic Development & Marketing Specialist

Ignite Fredericton | Knowledge Park | Planet Hatch

www.ignitefredericton.com

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Innovation District

FREDERICTON’S CULTURE OF INNOVATION

Gleaner Column

Chapter 2 – Innovation District (renamed by Gleaner: ‘The knowledge industry is Fredericton’s oilsands’)

In December, we explored the City’s journey of diversifying from a government/university town to a thriving knowledge-based economy, investing in digital infrastructure, and earning global brand equity as a ‘smart city’.

In this month’s column, you will learn about what’s happening in our Innovation District.  The concept of innovation district evolved from another key deliverable of the city’s first economic development strategy, Vision 2000.  It was to develop a ‘knowledge corridor’ by creating a technology and research park, and leveraging assets like the universities and research and development organizations.

Having started my career in economic development in 1992 with the launch of Vision 2000, I had the privilege to be involved and at the forefront of the conceptualization of Knowledge Park.  It was Mr. J.W. Bud Bird, former Chairman of the Greater Fredericton Economic Development Corporation (GFEDC), who envisioned the park, and who approached the former UNB President, Dr. Robin Armstrong, to lease UNB lands to enable the park construction.  Mr. Bird understood that it was communities like Silicon Valley and the Research Triangle who were churning out innovative companies, creating high value jobs, and fostering a clustering environment to spur continuous growth through tech transfer from the universities.  The type of growth, which snowballs to support other sectors like retail, restaurants, arts & culture, and professional services.

After a large scale effort to engage the City of Fredericton, the Province of New Brunswick, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the University of New Brunswick (UNB), GFEDC spearheaded the design and construction of the first building.  With a can-do attitude of “if you build it – they will come”, a makeshift floor was poured of asphalt and a billowing white tent erected to officially kick-off Knowledge Park.  With several hundred people in attendance and even a jack rabbit bouncing through the tent, Knowledge Park was soon to become a reality in 1995.

Today, Knowledge Park (show current picture) has grown to five buildings on its 26 acre campus with potential future development plans for sixteen buildings.  The park is home to 30 companies with the likes of Salesforce.com formerly Radian6, CGI, Blue Spurs, and Skillsolft, employing over 800 people, and generating $125+ million in annual GDP.  Revenues from the park have been re-invested back into economic development through the creation of a startup accelerator at Planet Hatch, and helping to bring the one-stop entrepreneurial hub concept to fruition. 

(show graphic - see attached doc) Knowledge Park and UNB are the anchors of the Innovation District, which is a two kilometre radius between the park, UNB and the downtown - encompassing academic institutions and over 60 research and development organizations. 

No other New Brunswick city has such rich and varied research expertise and support organizations like NBCC’s MobileFirst, the Maritime College of Forest Technology, the Research & Productivity Council, BioNB, New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, Agriculture Canada’s Potato Research Centre, etc.  

With UNB producing over 75% of the province’s university related research, 25 research chairs, 20 research centers and 65 laboratories - there are some incredible things happening from biomedical engineering to cyber security to planetary science on the campus!  Take a moment to watch this UNB video.

So why did we create Knowledge Park, and package this unique combination of assets into the Innovation District? First, it was to enable tech transfer from the universities to a clustering and commercialization environment for knowledge-based companies.  Second, it was to foster a ‘Living Lab’ environment to attract companies looking to outsource their product development. The best example of this is Siemens, who established in the park because of access to the university talent pipeline, R&D network, and digital infrastructure with GoFred’s lowest cost gigabit connectivity.  In Fredericton, you have a scaleable model for product development, and we want to attract more global companies like Siemens!

Home to over 70% of New Brunswick’s knowledge-based companies, the knowledge industry is our oil sands.  It is where we have seen continuous, positive growth, and it’’s where there will be good paying jobs tomorrow. 
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Next time, we’ll talk about some of the important initiatives underway to plant the seeds for continuous growth like the work of innovation pioneer, David Alston’s, Code Kids movement.  Stay tuned…

Laurie Guthrie, EcD, BIS
Economic Development & Marketing Specialist
Ignite Fredericton | Knowledge Park | Planet Hatch
www.ignitefredericton.com

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Innovation at the Forefront

FREDERICTON’S CULTURE OF INNOVATION

Gleaner Column

Chapter 1 – “Innovation at the forefront of city’s strategic approach”

Fredericton was founded on a tradition of innovation from the early pioneers to the forefathers who established the oldest university in Canada.

Innovation is in our DNA, it’s part of our culture.  When we think innovation, it typically conjures images of high tech companies and research & development, but it’s in the fabric of everything from our preserved heritage to the design of our streetscapes, green spaces, and art, cultural & recreational amenities. 

Being the fourth highest university-educated population in Canada, it comes as no surprise that our universities and colleges continue to produce top-notch talent.
In this monthly column, I’m going to take you on the journey of how we evolved from a sleepy little government/university town to a thriving knowledge-based economy.  We’re going to explore not only the information technology sector, but how our entrepreneurs are innovating across multiple sectors, and how our investments are paying off… 

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It started with a vision to be a ‘Smart City’…

Prior to the early nineties, Fredericton recognized that the world was changing at a rapid rate with a widening digital divide.  Internet/broadband access was very expensive and only available in large urban centers. This disadvantage had the potential not only to constrain our economic growth, but initiate an economic decline if our businesses did not have the tools to grow. This new form of connectivity was going to be a differentiator of communities in the future, as the concept of ‘knowledge industry’ was evolving.

In 1992, the City of Fredericton embarked on its journey to diversify from a government and university-based economy to a knowledge-based economy.  At the same time, the former Premier, Frank McKenna, was also driving the province’s ‘Information Highway’, so the stars were aligned to embark on this quest. 

We developed our first economic development strategy, Vision 2000, with the mission of being recognized globally as a ‘smart city’, and to be the Knowledge-based Capital of New Brunswick.  We realized that in order to accomplish this feat, some major investments would be required.

Fredericton set out to develop its digital infrastructure.  The City Council of the day put innovation at the forefront of its strategic approach, and committed to ensuring residents and businesses were equipped with the best tools to succeed.  ‘Intellectual infrastructure’ came to be viewed like the traditional infrastructure of roads and streets.  We realized that waiting for existing suppliers to “save” us from the Digital Divide was not an option. Something had to be done, done quickly and done by the community itself.

In 2001, the City constructed its own fibre optic network, e-Novations.  On the backbone of our fibre, we also built Canada’s 1st free wireless network, Fred-eZone, in 2003.  We deployed 300 Wi-Fi access points in high traffic areas throughout the downtown and business corridors – lighting public facilities, infrastructure and malls.  Today, Fredericton boasts omnipresent broadband service, a truly connected business community and an extensive Wi-Fi zone, which enables individuals to connect to the world free-of-charge.  As the internet service provider managing the community network, e-Novations makes unused network capacity available to the Fred-eZone.  As a result, the City incurs no incremental costs, and consistent with our philosophy of treating this as infrastructure, Fredericton offers the service free-of-charge.  From the moment a visitor arrives at our airport until they check into their hotel - they are “in the zone”.

The City continues to expand its network and new offerings under its GoFred brand with innovation being a core value to not only the municipal government but the Fredericton community.  With expanded services like the lowest cost gigabit connectivity in Atlantic Canada, the city is in a unique position to attract new businesses to the city.  Companies typically pay $2500/month for this type of connectivity in other jurisdictions, and on the GoFred network, a business can access it for approximately $250/month!

Over the years, we have received countless inquiries from other cities, and have travelled the globe to share best practices.  It’s safe to say that we have achieved brand equity as a ‘smart city’ having been awarded numerous recognitions for our efforts – most importantly being named twice as “One of the World’s Top 7 Intelligent Communities” (2008 & 2009 Intelligent Community Forum of New York).  We have also inspired our sister provincial cities to follow in Fredericton’s footsteps, thus establishing global brand equity as an intelligent province.

This progressive, highly visible commitment to innovation has strengthened Fredericton’s value proposition, and carved our niche as a leading knowledge community in the world. It’s why companies want to be here, and why Fredericton has seen some of Canada’s biggest tech deals.

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Next time, we will explore what’s happening in the city’s innovation district, which evolved from a Vision 2000 deliverable to develop a ‘knowledge corridor’ by creating a technology & research park, and leveraging assets like the universities and R&D organizations.   Stay tuned…

Laurie Guthrie, EcD, BIS
Economic Development & Marketing Specialist
Ignite Fredericton | Knowledge Park | Planet Hatch
www.ignitefredericton.com

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It’s Innovation Season in New Brunswick!

Spring is in the air - well actually innovation is! March kicked off the start of innovation season celebrating and recognizing innovation in New Brunswick.

BreakThru, presented by the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, awarded over $1 million dollars to four companies on March 23rd at their signature ‘Late Night’ styled event. It was a high energy, exciting evening, and we congratulate all of the participants, and final winners: Pfera (NB grand prize); Newpy (national grand prize); and SomaDetect & WEnTech Solutions (both NB runners up).

The first Energy Innovations Forum, presented by the Smart Grid Innovation Network (SGIN), took place April 4-5th at the Fredericton Convention Centre, featuring global, Canadian and local industry experts, who are innovating and playing in the smart grid and smart energy space.  In addition to top-notch speakers, 300+ delegates had the opportunity to network with other energy sector businesses, utilities, researchers and industry professionals, as well as thought-leaders from across the country.

From my own perspective, I was amazed at the ‘bias for innovation’, and the energy-related products, services and opportunities now available on the market through the convergence of energy, technology with the ‘Internet of Things’.  People are controlling their home appliances, and actually their entire home, through integrated smartphone apps!  Municipalities are enabling sustainable mass transit, and even bringing buses into malls and convention centres to quickly charge/pick-up/drop-off passengers.  Montreal is a great example, currently running a pilot project with NovaBus, where electric buses can be charged en route through charging stations.  

With mega trends like urbanization, climate change and demographics, and the evolving digital economy - what will the utility of the future look like?  With the emergence of a consumption-based model/charging only for demand, there will be a major disruption in the traditional utility business model.  Power plants are becoming virtual, leveraging distributed energy resources (DERs) available through wind, solar, tidal, etc. Places like California are experiencing what is referred to as the ‘duck curve’ which is a negative cost for electricity due to citizens generating their own energy through solar, storing it and then selling back to the utility.  It was said that solar is likely to be the most economical option, and when soon combined with storage, it will be our primary energy solution of the future.  What this translates to is the consumer owning future energy assets and being an active part of the the electricity grid. What a concept - well, it’s becoming a reality!

NB Power is at the forefront of this major shift, working with its SGIN partners - Siemens and the University of New Brunswick - to ensure that this province is ready for the major changes to come. CEO Gaetan Thomas committed the utility being 90% non-emitting by 2030 and this will happen by integrating all these new distributed energy resources through the use of smart grid.  While this evolves, the bigger conundrum will be managing the transition where we still need to pay for current generation assets over the medium term, as well as deal with the challenge that the rate of innovation is exceeding the rate of required policy and regulatory change.  

Another theme was the ‘smart energy community’.  There were numerous examples cited by Brent Gilmour with QUEST (Quality Urban Energy System of Tomorrow), with over 300 communities building their own Community Energy Plans (CEPs), and tapping federal funding through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.  As a matter of fact, the City of Fredericton has just embarked on developing its renewable energy strategy, a step forward on the  smart community energy planning road,  building on its many past successes to be a smart, resilient, and sustainable city.  

The Energy Innovations Forum was presented by the Smart Grid Innovation Network (SGIN), in association with Ignite Fredericton, and supported by Siemens, NB Power, the University of New Brunswick, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and OpportunitiesNB.

For more information - please see: www.energyinnovationsforum.ca/ #EnergyInnoForum

The KIRAs are coming!  On Thursday, May 4th, New Brunswick’s most innovative companies across all sectors will be recognized at the 2017 Knowledge & Innovation Recognition Awards (KIRA). The KIRAs also mark the official kick-off to New Brunswick Innovation Week!  

The KIRAS, now in their 19th year, celebrate and recognize private and public organizations in the following categories: Economic Impact through Innovation, Innovation Champion, Innovation through Technology, Most Innovative Product or Service, Most Innovative Start-up, Premier’s Award for Innovation (in both Private and Public Sectors) and the People’s Choice Award to be voted on by attendees at the gala.

As the presenting partner, Knowledge Park received a record number of nominations this year at 118! We attribute this success to the new streamlined nominations process, as well as the engagement of provincial stakeholders through the Premier’s Innovation Week Planning Committee.

KIRA is Fredericton’s premiere awards event, hosted this year by emcees:  Naomi Snieckus and Matt Baram.  Individually, Naomi is from CBC's MrD and Matt is from Second City's Guide to the Symphony. Together they are Second City alumnus and the team from the multi award winning, internationally acclaimed company: The National Theatre of the World. The Toronto Star calls them: “The most laughable couple".

In partnership with Ignite Fredericton, 3+ and Enterprise Saint John, there will also be a KIRA nominee showcase and special session about ‘demystifying the innovation myth’ during the day.  It will be moderated by New Brunswick’s Chief Economist, David Campbell, and Dr. Herb Emergy with the University of New Brunswick. Watch for details as they become available, and book your KIRA tickets today at: https://www.kiraawards.com/.

In the coming weeks, visit the Government of New Brunswick website for the NB Innovation Week Calendar of Events, and take your front row seat to learn about innovation happening in New Brunswick.

 

Laurie Guthrie, EcD, BIS

Economic Development & Marketing Specialist

Ignite Fredericton | Knowledge Park | Planet Hatch

www.ignitefredericton.com


 

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Innovative Approach to Newcomer Retention

We kicked off January with our ‘Top 10 Highlights Fuelling Economic & Population Growth’ with  Newcomer Settlement’ placing seventh on our list.  It evokes a great sense of pride when I see the growing cultural diversity in our community from places of business to the availability of ethnic cuisine to my childrens’ friends.  Growing up in Fredericton, I can say that is was predominantly white, and going out for ethnic food was limited to Canadian Chinese buffet.  What an amazing transformation over the last decade!

Fredericton has continued to attract newcomers from around the globe, which enriches our cultural diversity and skilled workforce.  However, it is not just about attracting people here - it is about making Fredericton the most welcoming community, so that newcomers can build fulfilling lives and careers here. This is why Ignite Fredericton speared New Brunswick’s first Local Immigration Partnership (LIPF) to support newcomer retention and integration.

Coinciding with the March 2nd LIPF Community-Call-to-Action, I would like to provide some background about our past newcomer efforts, and where we need to be in the future...

In 2011 with a declining population and skill shortages, Fredericton City Council (led by Councillor Eric Megarity and Laurie Guthrie) made a strategic decision to invest in a dedicated Immigration Coordinator position, to be housed at Ignite Fredericton (formerly Enterprise Fredericton).  

This was the turning point for Fredericton in terms of having a point person to host immigrants during their exploratory visits, conduct ongoing follow-up during the immigration process, and refer them to settlement agencies when they land. These efforts have only been further enhanced with the co-location of Planet Hatch and the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce’s Business Immigrant Mentorship Program (BIMP), the Hive (business incubator program for immigrants) and Succession Connect program (matching newcomers with available businesses for sale). Newcomers now have access to a full suite of business services from ideation, validation, to growth and maturity.

In 2013, Ignite Fredericton led an effort to create a Local Immigration Partnership in Fredericton, which received City Council endorsement in 2014, and Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada funding in April 2015.  The LIPF was officially launched in March 2016 as a community-driven solution to address immigrant integration.

Fredericton’s LIP is co-chaired by Councillor Eric Megarity and Janet Moser. The LIPF strategy, which included a gap analysis identifying integration obstacles and an asset mapping of settlement service organizations, identifies seven focus areas: basic needs, welcoming community & awareness, children & youth, education & employment, entrepreneurship & business, francophone services, and multi-level government.

At the March 2nd Community-Call-to-Action, the public was invited to lend their expertise and get involved in the following LIPF Working Groups:

  • Basic Needs - To improve and simplify newcomer information/tools upon arrival at key access points.
  • Welcoming Community & Awareness - To create a more welcoming community and generate newcomer awareness.
  • Education & Employment - To help facilitate a newcomer skills/education profile so that newcomers can be directed towards paths of interest, i.e. workforce matching, starting a business, skilling-up, internship placements, credential recognition, etc.

I would like to commend the provincial and federal governments on customizing an immigration solution for Atlantic Canada! This is something we have been advocating to Members of Parliament for some time, and thank you to our local MP, Matt Decourcey, for leading on behalf of the Fredericton Region.

What does this mean?  An increase of 2,000 immigrants to Atlantic Canada, which will help fuel companies experiencing skill shortages. It will mean hopefully a streamlined process for immigration paths available to newcomers.  

 

What can citizens do to help with our immigration efforts?

  • Hire newcomers, who offer fresh perspective and new ideas.
  • Be welcoming to your new neighbours or co-workers. Imagine what it would be like to move to a new country where you do not know anyone or are fleeing a war-torn country? This will help minimize their culture shock.
  • Help our newcomers build their networks and connections in the community.
  • Join a LIPF working group, and do your part in helping to make a difference in the settlement of our new citizens.
  • Offer internships in your places of businesses so that international students and newcomers can acquire local work experience.

 

What can government do to continue improving immigration pathways?

  • Targetted immigration attraction focussed on skill shortages.
  • Create a provision in the Federal summer student program so that local businesses can hire international students, who are already living and studying here. Let’s give them opportunity to stay here post-graduation!
  • Ensure expedient processing time during the immigration process.

 

To learn more about the LIPF - please click here


Laurie Guthrie, EcD, BIS

Economic Development & Marketing Specialist

Ignite Fredericton | Knowledge Park | Planet Hatch

www.ignitefredericton.com

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Tackling the Skills Gap

We are re-republishing some of our Daily Gleaner articles from 2016. It's a good reminder of who we are, what we believe, and where we are going.

My last two columns provided some historical context on how Fredericton earned its global brand equity as a ‘smart city’ through diversification from a government/university town to a thriving knowledge-based economy.  The building blocks were significant investment in digital infrastructure, and building a ‘knowledge corridor’, known today at the Innovation District, anchored by Knowledge Park and the University of New Brunswick.

As I suggested last month, I truly believe that the knowledge industry is our equivalent to Alberta’s oil sands with such a large number of knowledge-based companies located in the Fredericton Region.  The continuous growth of this sector is what carried us through the recession, and is where we will see future growth and good paying jobs tomorrow.

As a mother, I can certainly relate to all the parents who worry about their children’s future in New Brunswick. This article is directed to the parents, policy-makers/politicians and educators, who are in a position to help shape and influence New Brunswick’s future.  This starts with early education - ensuring our children get the required skills to keep them on a path of realizing opportunities.

It does not take a rocket scientist to understand where the skill shortages are - just go onto NB Jobs to see the long list of unfilled positions - particularly related to the information technology sector.  The national Information & Communications Technology Council (ICTC) has stated that by this year, 95% of jobs will require digital skills, and there will be demand for 182,000 ICT jobs in Canada by 2019.  These are high paying jobs, which go on to support the economy and other sectors like retail and housing. 

So let’s stop the negative, doom and gloom chatter about lack of jobs.  There are lots of jobs and opportunities in New Brunswick; however, as parents, we need to steer our children in the right direction, and policy makers and educators need to ensure our children are being properly equip for the future workforce.

Fundamentally, we understand that literacy is number one.  A literate, young population paves the road for future success.  According to Elementary Literacy Inc., one in five New Brunswick children are falling behind in reading by the end of grade two.  Without educational intervention, these children are at-risk of ongoing academic challenges and are less likely to graduate than children who achieve grade two-level success.  Early intervention is key, and we need to ensure New Brunswick schools are equipped with the necessary support programs, resources and services.  With a solid foundation in literacy, students are able to later move on to more complex STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math), which opens a world of opportunity for our youth.

Secondly, let’s ask ourselves - what do New Brunswick children need education-wise to meet the increasing demand of a digital world?  With 106,000 unfilled tech jobs this year in Canada, innovation pioneer, David Alston, is on the right track, leading the Code Kids movement.

In 2013, Alston and René Boudreau travelled to Estonia and Finland to explore how these countries integrated coding and technology into their elementary education programs - creating a mega talent pipeline that has supported the booming growth of their information technology sector boasting names like Skype and Nokia.

The Code Kids movement and documentary helped kick off Brilliant Labs, which is an initiative designed to give educators tools and resources to offer coding in New Brunswick classrooms.

Here are a few useful links if you are interested in learning more:

Code Kids
NB Jobs
Brilliant Labs
Ladies Learning Code
Kids Learning Code
Hour of Code

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In future columns, we will be looking at other industries bubbling with innovation like natural resource development with $8.6 billion in projected investment for the mega projects pending approvals. These projects along with others will have a peak employment demand of 8,600 positions from 2017-18, and 28,000 by 2025. 

So parents, let’s look at where the opportunities lie, and steer our children towards the opportunities of tomorrow!

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Fredericton's Innovation District

We are republishing some great articles that we wrote for the Dialy Gleaner last year. They reflect the hard work, thought, and vision of so many of our city's business leaders, innovators, educators, and city staff.

Fredericton's Innovation District

In December, we explored the City’s journey of diversifying from a government/university town to a thriving knowledge-based economy, investing in digital infrastructure, and earning global brand equity as a ‘smart city’.

In this month’s column, you will learn about what’s happening in our Innovation District.  The concept of innovation district evolved from another key deliverable of the city’s first economic development strategy, Vision 2000.  It was to develop a ‘knowledge corridor’ by creating a technology and research park, and leveraging assets like the universities and research and development organizations.

Having started my career in economic development in 1992 with the launch of Vision 2000, I had the privilege to be involved and at the forefront of the conceptualization of Knowledge Park.  It was Mr. J.W. Bud Bird, former Chairman of the Greater Fredericton Economic Development Corporation (GFEDC), who envisioned the park, and who approached the former UNB President, Dr. Robin Armstrong, to lease UNB lands to enable the park construction.  Mr. Bird understood that it was communities like Silicon Valley and the Research Triangle who were churning out innovative companies, creating high value jobs, and fostering a clustering environment to spur continuous growth through tech transfer from the universities.  The type of growth, which snowballs to support other sectors like retail, restaurants, arts & culture, and professional services.

After a large scale effort to engage the City of Fredericton, the Province of New Brunswick, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the University of New Brunswick (UNB), GFEDC spearheaded the design and construction of the first building.  With a can-do attitude of “if you build it – they will come”, a makeshift floor was poured of asphalt and a billowing white tent erected to officially kick-off Knowledge Park.  With several hundred people in attendance and even a jack rabbit bouncing through the tent, Knowledge Park was soon to become a reality in 1995.

Today, Knowledge Park (show current picture) has grown to five buildings on its 26 acre campus with potential future development plans for sixteen buildings.  The park is home to 30 companies with the likes of Salesforce.com formerly Radian6, CGI, Blue Spurs, and Skillsolft, employing over 800 people, and generating $125+ million in annual GDP.  Revenues from the park have been re-invested back into economic development through the creation of a startup accelerator at Planet Hatch, and helping to bring the one-stop entrepreneurial hub concept to fruition. 

(show graphic - see attached doc) Knowledge Park and UNB are the anchors of the Innovation District, which is a two kilometre radius between the park, UNB and the downtown - encompassing academic institutions and over 60 research and development organizations. 

No other New Brunswick city has such rich and varied research expertise and support organizations like NBCC’s MobileFirst, the Maritime College of Forest Technology, the Research & Productivity Council, BioNB, New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, Agriculture Canada’s Potato Research Centre, etc.  

With UNB producing over 75% of the province’s university related research, 25 research chairs, 20 research centers and 65 laboratories - there are some incredible things happening from biomedical engineering to cyber security to planetary science on the campus!  Take a moment to watch this UNB video.

So why did we create Knowledge Park, and package this unique combination of assets into the Innovation District? First, it was to enable tech transfer from the universities to a clustering and commercialization environment for knowledge-based companies.  Second, it was to foster a ‘Living Lab’ environment to attract companies looking to outsource their product development. The best example of this is Siemens, who established in the park because of access to the university talent pipeline, R&D network, and digital infrastructure with GoFred’s lowest cost gigabit connectivity.  In Fredericton, you have a scaleable model for product development, and we want to attract more global companies like Siemens!

Home to over 70% of New Brunswick’s knowledge-based companies, the knowledge industry is our oil sands.  It is where we have seen continuous, positive growth, and it’’s where there will be good paying jobs tomorrow. 
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Next time, we’ll talk about some of the important initiatives underway to plant the seeds for continuous growth like the work of innovation pioneer, David Alston’s, Code Kids movement.  Stay tuned…

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