Capitalizing on Halifax’s Innovation District

Capitalizing on Halifax’s Innovation District

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Contributors:

Ron Hanlon, President & CEO, Halifax Partnership

Focus on our youth, our city and our province

The Halifax Partnership has taken the lead on building and growing Halifax’s Innovation District. As Halifax’s economic development organization, we see the Innovation District as a key factor in achieving our economic growth plan goals of a population of 550,000 and a GDP of $30 billion by 2031.

One facet of Halifax’s Innovation District is connecting the local business community to R&D opportunities, so they can invest in and prosper from them. We want the local business community, as well as businesses outside Halifax, to truly understand the great assets we have here, to increase collaboration and to reach the full potential of these connections through commercialization.

We have a team dedicated to innovation and they have hit the ground running. Miriam Zitner, our new Vice President for the Halifax Innovation District, has been with the Partnership since January and has been consulting with many stakeholders to develop our three-year master plan for the district. Jordan Rogers, our Sales Engineer, is working to deeply understand our universities’ research, projects and the capabilities and capacity of each institution. Together, Miriam and Jordan are getting to know Halifax’s assets and through this, learning how to best utilize these assets in connection with the business community to increase collaboration, connectivity and commercialization.

As you think about growing your organization’s product pipeline, keep in mind the opportunity to integrate our local universities’ existing R&D assets and programs. Currently, only about six per cent of R&D at our post-secondary institutions are being commercialized, which is low when compared to the rest of Canada. There is a significant opportunity here — there is so much happening right now that businesses can tap into. Our innovation team can help you connect with local post-secondary institutions, accelerators and incubators to find out if your idea fits with their research assets or projects and if so, how you can work together.

Our opportunity is to connect more businesses to our innovation assets. First, our assets need to be understood and mapped so the business community knows what opportunities are available to them. That’s our job — and it is what Miriam and Jordan are doing right now. Next, businesses need to take advantage of these opportunities.

Halifax’s innovation assets are a draw for investment attraction. Let’s make it known that we are open for business as a place to connect, grow and innovate. Halifax’s response to Amazon’s RFP for HQ2 is one of many we are pursuing to attract large, innovative investment opportunities.

This month, we are submitting Halifax’s application to Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge, a pan-Canadian competition that encourages communities to adopt a “smart cities” approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology. Finalists will be announced in the summer of 2018 and will be granted prize money to develop their proposals. This is a very exciting opportunity that could make a significant economic and societal impact in Halifax — and if successful, will be a win for innovation in Halifax.

Whether you have a business problem that can be solved by research from an academic institution, or need a key element for a new product or service that can be developed by a growing startup, we are here to help you make the connection. If you have ideas or interests that align with our Innovation District, get in touch with us.

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