A couple of months back, my View from the ‘Loo looked at the connective tissue that binds Waterloo Region’s tech community and keeps it moving forward.
Now, imagine the potential if we could build stronger links between our ecosystem and greater Toronto’s formidable innovation economy, strengthening both communities and those in between.
That’s exactly what a growing number of people in both places have been imagining lately: an innovation “supercluster” similar in scale to the world’s leading example, California’s Silicon Valley (see map above).
Inherent in the concept is that the tech communities of Waterloo Region and Toronto – and by extension, Canada – have more to gain from collaborating than competing, as respected venture capitalist Brad Feld told me during a visit to the Communitech Hub earlier this year.
Communitech CEO Iain Klugman, Google Canada engineering director Steven Woods and OMERS Ventures CEO John Ruffolo are among leaders in the early stages of pulling this lofty idea down from the sky and shaping it into reality on the ground.
Needless to say, it’ll take a lot of hard pulling from a lot of people inside and out of the tech community, an effort that starts with a conversation.
That conversation got under way publicly last Saturday, with a thoughtful and detailed piece on Huffington Post Canada by Toronto-based journalist Pat Lynch, who is writing a series about the supercluster effort for Communitech.
Early indications suggest you can expect the conversation to build over the coming weeks and months. In addition to the hundreds of likes, tweets and other shares of Lynch’s piece, others have begun to chime in with their own ideas.
By Tuesday morning, Don Richardson of Guelph-based Shared Value Solutions had posted a blog that points out what will surely be a key challenge in building the supercluster: improving transportation links between Waterloo Region and Toronto, links that can best be described as weak at the moment.
Talks will surely touch on other key issues; land-use planning and the flow of data, talent and capital among them. Some will be easier to address than others.
But, for now, consider the conversation started – and consider this an open invitation to share your ideas on what it will take to build the world’s next great tech supercluster.
Our Facebook page, where Richardson posted his blog, is a great place to weigh in.
Anthony Reinhart is Communitech’s Director of Editorial Strategy and senior staff writer. View from the ‘Loo is a weekly look at the issues, people and events that shape Waterloo Region’s technology sector.