Brenda Halloran joins new appointees Tony Lacavera, Founder and Chairman of Globalive Holdings, and Intuit Canada President Jeff Cates
June 28, 2016 | Startup Canada
Startup Canada announced today it has appointed Brenda Halloran to chair its Board of Directors. Halloran is the former mayor of Waterloo, Ont. (2006-2014) and current President of the Trillium Innovation Venture Group.Read more
Waterloo is the smallest, geographically speaking, of seven cities that make up Canada's Technology Triangle. Small in size it may be, but this second-time Top Seven honoree casts a big shadow in terms of technology-based growth. The Triangle itself is home to 334 technology companies and another 404 providing related services that employ about 10% of the labor force, but account for 45% of job growth.
Among the seven communities, Waterloo is home to 40% of the high-tech firms. Its recent history illustrates the power of getting a few critical things right and then working together to nurture and manage the resulting success over time.
The community's first and perhaps most important "right thing" took place at the University of Waterloo. The University was founded in 1957 by two businessmen, Gerald Hagey and Ira Needles, 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. The policy allowed students and faculty members to own rights in intellectual property they developed at the University.
The University's timing was excellent. When the introduction of the personal computer began a decades-long wave of ICT growth, Waterloo was positioned to benefit. Like Stanford University in Silicon Valley, it spurred spin-outs of technology-based businesses, and local entrepreneurs began to build clusters of companies working on the most exciting technologies of the day. Fast-forward a few decades and the Waterloo region is a place where investors have poured C$1.8 billion (US$1.5bn) over the past 10 years into acquiring privately-held technology companies. It is also the home of companies that, over the past eight years, made up 10% of successful IPOs on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Publicly-held technology companies in the Waterloo region have generated a 26% internal rate of return since 1994, according to Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and the original investors in firms that were acquired or went public have received more than a seven-fold return on their investments. Waterloo's leading technology companies today include Research in Motion (RIM, creator of the BlackBerry), Sybase, Open Text, DALSA and Descartes Systems Group.
Today, the University offers the world's largest post-secondary co-op program serving over 11,000 students. It operates more than 50 research institutes, 12 Federal and Provincial Centers of Excellence, is a partner with the city, region and nonprofits in developing a Research & Technology Park. But it does not stand alone. Wilfrid Laurier University is home to one of Canada's largest business schools as well as the Schlegel Center for Entrepreneurship, while the Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning has earned a #1 ranking from the Province of Ontario for eight straight years.
Engaging Business, Citizens and Government
The community's second "right thing" was a local government that has engaged actively with business and citizens in planning for a prosperous future. A Strategic Resource Information Plan developed in 1990 set the pattern for data-sharing and integration among agencies and pointed the way toward the 1998 introduction of the award-winning, Internet-based Waterloo Information Network. Today, Waterloo offers a wide range of online services, from the minutes of council meetings and city program registration to tax assessment tools, interactive GIS maps and marriage license registration.
In 2000, the city undertook a year-long project called Imagine!Waterloo. This city-wide public consultation aimed to determine the best possible future for the city. Its recommendations ranged from environmental protection to transportation, culture to city communications. An Intelligent Waterloo Steering Committee formed in 2006 - led by Jim Balsilie, co-founder of RIM, Waterloo's Mayor and University of Waterloo President David Johnston - stages events to educate business leaders, academics and citizens about the challenges Waterloo faces and engage them in setting goals for educational achievement, access to services, investment in infrastructure and social inclusion.
Collaboration and Reinvestment
The third "right thing" in Waterloo is a culture of collaboration and reinvestment. Perhaps because cooperation among business, academia and government has been so successful, folks in Waterloo make partnership a priority and are eager to give back to the community. Waterloo-based Tech Capital Partners manages C$95 million in venture capital for early-stage companies, while a group of business leaders has recently launched Infusion Angels to find and fund ideas from University of Waterloo students and alumni. UW and Wilfrid Laurier jointly run a Launchpad $50K Venture Creation Competition for students, researchers and community members who develop business plans and start successful businesses. Successful entrepreneurs have also reached into their pockets to fund or contributed their time to the founding of the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Institute for Quantum Computing, Center for Wireless Communications, the Waterloo Technology StartUp Network, and Communitech, a capacity-building association focusing on technology in the region. Each fall, the Waterloo region celebrates Entrepreneur Week, North America's largest innovation festival.
Sharing the wealth extends as well to people for whom technology is more a challenge than opportunity. Like other Canadian communities, Waterloo participates in the Federal Community Access Program that places Internet workstations in public access locations. Waterloo's public libraries have become ICT learning centers that, thanks to company donations, lend laptops as well as books. Through Wilfred Laurier's Center for Community Service-Learning, nearly 1,000 students a year engage with 200 local partner organizations in programs that connect community service to classroom learning. Business and nonprofit organizations have joined forces to create the Waterloo Region Immigrant Employment network to help match recent immigrants to job opportunities, while the Waterloo Public Library has developed an online portal, ProjectNOW, to provide settlement and labor information to newcomers.
With 76% of businesses and 47% of households on broadband, and 75% of adults using the Internet, Waterloo is already a broadband economy success story. The challenge the community has set itself is to sustain and accelerate its success in a global economy that competes harder for investment, talent and ideas with each passing year.
In the News
Read the latest updates about Waterloo.
Want to know more about Waterloo?
Waterloo was featured in the Intelligent Community Forum book Brain Gain.
Labor Force: 55,551
Intelligent Community of the Year 2007
Smart21 2006 | 2007
Top7 2006 | 2007
How Two Intelligent Communities Joined Forces to Grow Their Economies: Part 3 - The Cross-Border Talent Agenda
In the last issue, we explored how Eindhoven and Waterloo structured a partnership that produced measurable economic impact for both communities. Here we discuss the more ambitious goals they set for building technology expertise to power future growth.
While the business attraction and two-way trade opportunities continue to be pursued on both ends, other levels of collaboration have been launched on the Talent agenda.Read more
Get ready for the next industrial revolution. Change is inevitable. Get over it! And in today’s world, it will happen quickly. The drivers for it are not only structural, political, scientific and economic, but also cultural and social. They are manifested through such things as products and services, platforms and processes, as well as how people, governments and organizations are willing to accept and work with them. On the horizon is a phenomenon that is already changing the way we live. Billions of machine–to-machine (M2M) connections are actively connecting devices and applications that people use everyday such as Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Nest, or Apple’s HomeKit. On the Smart City scene are digital programs ranging from water and air quality sensors to sensor-enabled trash collection, using data to improve efficiency, reduce costs and make better use of our limited resources. The Internet of Things (IoT), which includes M2M connections and sensor-enabled environmental data generators, will probably be one of the most revolutionary impacts on our communities and on our lives since the broad-scale adoption of the Internet. While over 15 billion devices are already connected with one another today including computers with mobile devices, medical and environmental sensors, and industrial and commercial machines, 85% of these devices and other things are still unconnected. It is expected that 50 billion devices and applications will be connected by 2020. The growing adoption of IoT is driving businesses of all makes and sizes to bring about changes in the way they do business, service customers, attract and retain talented workforce and deal with supply chains.Read more
How Two Intelligent Communities Joined Forces to Grow Their Economies: Part 2 - Turning Ideas into Opportunities
In our first installment, we discussed how Waterloo and Eindhoven recognized in each other the opportunity for a productive partnership. In this installment, we explore how they turned intentions into action.
In Waterloo Region, a steering committee was established to follow the progress of the Alliance. It consists of community stakeholders from academia, industry and government that have a specific interest in the furthering the connections and identifying their own opportunities (investment, talent, R&D, 2-way trade) within the framework. The group meets every 4-6 months. A key element of the success of this committee is the collaborative nature of the committee members from across the community, including their commitment to fund the Alliance.Read more
How Two Intelligent Communities Joined Forces to Grow Their Economies: Part One - A Canadian-Dutch Partnership Takes Shape
In 2007, the City of Waterloo was named Intelligent Community of the Year, an accolade that Eindhoven region also received in 2011. Because of their mutual international recognition and the specific attention that it bestows, the communities began a conversation that led to a strategic alliance and unique international form of economic development that thrives today.Read more
A little thing like an introduction can sometimes lead to a very big outcome. Connections between ICFF Member Intelligent Communities, for instance, can result in mutual benefits and economic development success stories that can help inspire others and provide invaluable lessons for their evolution as successful Intelligent Communities. At the ICF Summit in Toronto this year - on June 9, you can meet and hear from some of the people behind these successful connections including success stories from Dublin, Ohio and Arlington, Virginia, as well as between Eindhoven in the Netherlands and Waterloo, in Canada. The latter, in fact, is evolving in extra-special terms with a little help from some pomp and ceremony.Read more