New York (May 18, 2007 - 14:00 EST) The Intelligent Community Forum named Waterloo, Ontario, Canada as recipient of its 2007 Intelligent Community of the Year award today, and presented awards to the Intelligent Facility of the Year, Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year and presented its second Lifetime Achievement Award before an invited audience of 140 people from nearly 20 nations in Brooklyn, New York. The annual awards were presented by the independent think tank as part of its annual conference, Building the Broadband Economy, produced in association with the Institute for Technology & Enterprise at Polytechnic University in New York City. The event was sponsored by Verizon and Skyport.
The goal of the awards is to increase awareness of the role that broadband communication and information technology play in economic and social development worldwide. Finalists from around the world, as well as representatives from governments, businesses and institutions, were on hand.
Intelligent Community of the Year: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
The Intelligent Community of the Year was selected based on in-depth research and analysis conducted by a knowledge process outsourcing company in India and the votes of an independent committee of experts from around the world. The ICF award came to North America this year, as Waterloo, best known as the home of BlackBerry developer Research in Motion, succeeded Taipei, the 2006 Intelligent Community of the Year. The city of 115,000 people is the smallest, geographically speaking, of seven cities that make up Canada's Technology Triangle. But with only 10% of the labor force in the Triangle, it accounts for 45% of job growth and is home to 40% of the high-tech firms in the region.
The community's Mayor, Brenda Halloran and two of its other driving forces, Councilor Mark Whaley and Simon Farbrother, the city's Chief Administrative Officer, accepted the award on behalf of Waterloo. A standing committee called Intelligent Waterloo, led by Research in Motion Chairman Jim Balsillie and University of Waterloo President David Johnston, has also supported the community's development by educating business leaders, academics and citizens about the challenges Waterloo faces and engaging them in goal-setting.
According to ICF, the community's success illustrates the power of getting a few critical things right and then working together over the long haul to nurture and manage the resulting success. The first and most important step took place at the University of Waterloo, founded in 1957 by two businessmen who saw an opportunity to create a high-level technical institution to train local business leaders. In the 1970s, the University established an intellectual property policy that was unheard of in its day: it allowed students and faculty members to own rights in intellectual property they developed at the University.
When the introduction of the personal computer began a decades-long wave of ICT growth, Waterloo was positioned to benefit. Investors have poured C$1.8 billion (US$1.5bn) into acquiring privately-held technology companies in the area over the past decade, and the region is home to 10% of successful IPOs on the Toronto Stock Exchange. In Waterloo, 75% of adults use the Internet, while 76% of businesses and 47% of households are on broadband.
ICF does not, however, present its top community award for past achievement. "Most important to us," said ICF co-founder Louis Zacharilla, who made the announcement at the Intelligent Community of the Year Awards Luncheon, "is that Waterloo has never stopped raising the bar. Waterloo's government has engaged actively with business and citizens in planning for a prosperous future. It introduced the award-winning Waterloo Information Network in 1998, and offers a wide range of online services to better connect government and its stakeholders. They are active in CAP, the national program that places Internet access terminals in public locations. Most importantly, the community has an extraordinary culture of collaboration and reinvestment. People in Waterloo make partnership a priority and are eager to give back to the entire community."
Examples include the many research institutes founded by successful Waterloo entrepreneurs, company donations that have turned Waterloo's libraries into ICT learning centers, a Launchpad $50K Venture Creation Competition for students, researchers and citizens run by two universities, and the Waterloo Region Immigrant Employment Network.
More information on Waterloo is available at www.intelligentcommunity.org.
Intelligent Facility of the Year: Cornell Agriculture & Food Technology Park
A 72-acre facility in an area of upstate New York called the Finger Lakes region was selected as ICF's Intelligent Facility of the Year. The Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park (www.theTechnologyFarm.com) allows food and agricultural companies to leverage the knowledge of Cornell University, known for its leadership in the study and research of agriculture, as well as a robust R&D infrastructure including state-of-the-art broadband communications. The Park, nicknamed "The Technology Farm," opened in 2005 to support the commercialization of new technologies in the food and agriculture business. It is the first of an expanding group of facilities intended to make upstate New York more economically viable.
The facility identified by ICF is a 20,000 square-foot "flex tech" incubator that provides offices to 10 agri-tech tenants from around the world and offers "wet labs" and pilot production facilities. The Park is owned by Cornell Agriculture & Food Technology Park Corporation, a non-profit organization, with strategic partners including New York State Experiment Station, Ontario (NY) County and Key Bank.
"This is a great example of how a local culture need not try to become a Silicon Valley, but can use its historic and geographic strengths, together with the intellectual capital from great universities, and harness them to broadband for good results," said John G. Jung, ICF's co-founder and Chairman. New York State is ranked 28th in total cash receipts for all agricultural commodities, with the vast majority coming from the upstate New York region.
Susan and Les Nobel of Cornell University represented the facility and accepted the award. Their remarks are available on ICF's News Blog at www.intelligentcommunity.org.
The other finalists included 7 World Trade Center and Mount Hope Housing, both New York facilities – a first for ICF, which has in the past three years named buildings or developments from Canada, Mauritius and Hong Kong.
Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year: Wikia, Inc.
Prior to the conference, ICF named Wikia, Inc. as its Visionary of the Year.
ICF noted that MediaWiki is a collaborative tool that has had revolutionary success in creating a culture of use for broadband. The ease of interaction and operation make wikia an effective tool for mass collaborative authoring among people eager to learn and share. According to Mr. Zacharilla of ICF, "A wiki-powered website is as dynamic, profound, glorious, mundane and profane as are humans in physical communities."
Lifetime Achievement Award: Sunderland, England
The intelligent community that gave rise to the Intelligent Community concept received ICF's second-ever Lifetime Achievement Award. Once an industrial powerhouse in the North of England and the biggest ship-building port in Europe, Sunderland fell into a steep decline in the 1980s. A turnaround effort that engaged every part of the community has transformed Sunderland into one of the most attractive business locations in the UK, with unemployment 1% below the national average. It has also placed the community on ICF's Top Seven Intelligent Communities list an unprecedented five times. ICF co-founder Robert Bell, who visited Sunderland in 1996 and 1999, presented the award to Chief Investment Officer Thomas Hurst. Mr. Bell, who authored ICF's first white paper on Intelligent Communities and analyzed Sunderland along with Silicon Valley, Chicago and other powerful communities, said that the strategies and tactics developed by Sunderland were the inspiration for the founding of ICF.
"You have turned a decaying, declining has-been of a city into a vibrant center of the UK's New Economy," Mr. Bell noted, "while rebuilding its industrial strength at the same time as a major European center for automotive assembly."
Invitation by the Pacific Telecommunications Council to 2008 Top Seven Announcement
Ken Zita of the Pacific Telecommunications Council (www.ptc.org), which hosts ICF's annual Top Seven ICs announcement, ended the ceremony by inviting attendees to Hawaii in January 2008 for the annual PTC conference.
About the Intelligent Community Forum
The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) www.intelligentcommunity.org is a nonprofit think tank that focuses on job creation and economic development in the broadband economy. Additional news about the conference, as well as profiles on the communities and recipients, can be found on ICF's website as well as its Broadband Economy Conference News Blog.