Tech hub hopes federal budget will boost smart city innovation

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Toronto’s innovation community has high hopes that Wednesday’s federal budget will earmark money for smart city innovation as Ottawa plans to stimulate research and development in the national economy.

Today, the MaRS Discovery District released a white paper that charts how tech companies across the world are moving out of suburban research parks and heading to downtown cores. Rise of the Hub: How Innovation Is Moving Downtown, flags the need to invest in urban hubs to attract talent that wants to collaborate with people from diverse fields.

Canada still lags behind global leaders like New York, Silicon Valley and London. While hubs located in Montreal, Waterloo and Vancouver are putting Canada on the map, Toronto one potential global front-runner because the city already features the Discovery District. Home to one of the highest concentrations of research institutions in the world, the community includes University of Toronto facilities, five research hospitals and the Canadian headquarters of tech giants Facebook and PayPal. Currently, there are 250 tenants in the MaRS complex and close to 6,000 people from various organizations are expected to work there by mid-2017.

MaRS reiterates that Ottawa and the provinces should look to the heart of major cities like Toronto. More pioneers are heading to downtown buildings and their peers are following close behind. According to the report, ‘conducting research on the outskirts worked when innovation was largely confined to information technology.’ Downtown Toronto supports where innovation is heading—towards an intersect of different fields, from digital health and bio-informatics to financial technology (fintech) and the internet of things.

Photo: MaRS Discovery District, Toronto

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