Building Halifax’s innovation district

Building Halifax’s innovation district

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Contributors:

JOHN ROGERS INTERIM PRESIDENT & CEO, HALIFAX PARTNERSHIP

As we enter 2019, we have the opportunity to reflect on successes from the past year and look ahead to what we need to accomplish for our businesses and our city. The five-year anniversary of the One Nova Scotia Report allows us to do both. Its calls to action have been answered by business, government and community leaders across the province and it is influencing how we grow our city.

Halifax’s Economic Growth Plan 2016-21, led by the Partnership and HRM, includes shared goals with the One Nova Scotia Report. One driver in achieving our shared goals is accelerating innovation driven entrepreneurship.

There is a concerted and collective effort across the province to: increase the number of start-ups, scale-ups and exports; grow industry clusters; and increase entrepreneurs’ connections and access to physical space, networks, mentors, research, risk capital, and the private sector. The Partnership is working with public, private and post-secondary partners to achieve this by developing Halifax’s Innovation District.

Brookings Institution defines Innovation Districts as geographically dense areas in cities where anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators and accelerators to facilitate the creation and commercialization of new ideas.

While we are in the early stages of planning for Halifax’s Innovation District, we are not starting from scratch. The Partnership has researched and developed a deep understanding of our city’s innovation ecosystem and rich collection of economic, physical and networking assets concentrated in the heart of our city.

The good news is that Halifax has the elements of a successful district — a density of assets, innovative firms, cool spaces and highly-educated talent. But Innovation Districts are more than just geographic areas where these things co-exist. The magic happens when there is knowledge-sharing, collaboration and a “synergistic relationship between people, firms, and places”. Developing a globally recognized, highly energized and engaged Innovation District is a long-term project that will require vision, commitment, and a global view on the art of the possible from corporations, risk capital, entrepreneurs, academia and governments.

As a province, we are halfway through the timeframe to drive the changes identified in the One Nova Scotia report. It is time now to recommit to its implementation. The Partnership’s focus on advancing the Innovation District means businesses can take advantage of opportunities to get involved. We invite you to join in. Watch HalifaxPartnership.com for details.

Today, Halifax’s emerging Innovation District is home to:

2,000 companies, including 360 professional, scientific and technical services firms, 80+ software development and IT services firms, two-thirds of Halifax’s 40 life and health sciences startup companies, and 18 R&D organizations.

Four universities, a top community college campus, and multiple startup incubators and accelerators.

One of the most concentrated talent pipelines in Canada: 29,000+ people enrolled in universities and colleges, including 5,500 international students.

23,000 residents who are young (40% are ages 20 to 40); highly educated (71% are university graduates); multicultural (more than 70 languages spoken); and tech savvy (nearly one in five have post-secondary education qualifications in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines)

Places and spaces that can be used in new and interesting ways to support innovation and collaboration.

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