The Viewfinder

Taking A G7 Summit Approach To Digital Transformation In The Southwestern Ontario Region

As you probably already know, this year’s G7 Summit will take place in La Malbaie, Quebec in early June.

In reviewing the agenda “themes” for the summit, I could not help but draw parallels between what will be discussed by our world leaders, and what Canada’s high-tech leadership will be discussing at the #ActivateDigital2018 conference on the 27th of February. Specifically, investing in growth that works for everyone, and preparing for jobs of the future.

Given the view that Southwestern Ontario can become the new Silicon Valley North, shared economic growth and the types of jobs and related skill sets of tomorrow’s workforce are core elements of the digital transformation that will reshape and redefine the region’s future.

Of course, the potential to become Silicon Valley North represents both an opportunity and a challenge.

For the region’s 2.5 million people realizing the potential of the emerging digital era will have far-reaching economic benefits including the creation of new jobs and an influx of people whose expertise will create a knowledge-base that will contribute to Southwestern Ontario’s collective growth for many years (and perhaps decades) to come.

However, and as Microsoft President, Kevin Peesker so aptly pointed out in an October 2017 article, while Canada’s Toronto/Waterloo tech corridor has great promise, there needs to be “scale around industry, educational institutions, and startups.” The “scale” to which Kevin is referring includes governments, which he indicated “can also play a key role in extending the tech success of Toronto and Waterloo beyond southern Ontario to other parts of Canada.”

The only way to achieve scalability is for governments to work closely with industry, educational institutions, and startups. In other words, we need to adopt a G7 approach to building the Southwestern Ontario region into the promise that lies before it.

The ActivateDigital2018 conference in Guelph on the 27th of February is an important first step towards that end.

Joining the Long View team and me on the 27th will be leading Canadian high-tech executives such as Microsoft’s new President Kevin Peesker, Cisco’s President Rola Dagher, HPE’s John Dathan, and Blackberry’s Margaret Stuart to talk about Canada’s digital future and what it means to Southwestern Ontario.

I am happy to say that Guelph’s Mayor Cam Guthrie will also be attending the first of what will become an annual conference that in future years will be held in the region’s other major centers. Within the framework of this collaborative spirit, we fully expect that the mayors from the other important centers will join us in what promises to be both a memorable and productive conference.

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