A magnet for tech dreams and money

Less than a decade ago all the talk along the Ontario Technology Corridor was of JDSUniphase and Nortel, both ablaze in Ottawa. Today it’s RIM and OpenText, both in Waterloo.

For half a century Ottawa’s National Research Council, with a Nobel and other international prizewinners on staff and more prizes than their cases can display, including an Academy Award, carried the flag for Canada’s science and tech smarts. Today it’s Waterloo’s Perimeter Institute that captures global imagination as a new knowledge heavyweight and gets Stephen Hawking, the best known physicist since Einstein, as visiting scholar.

When the lights dim at one end of the corridor, they brighten at another.

In between Toronto keeps pumping at the heart of a mega-region that boasts 250,000 tech workers, 6,000 tech companies and 30 colleges and universities brimming with tech talent for today and tomorrow. Toronto is where insulin was first imagined and made, where the electron microscope was developed, where there is the largest medical and biotech cluster of any metropolitan area in North America and the third largest concentration of private ICT companies after San Francisco and New York.

The centre holds.

All of this is in our minds at SCAN and scansite.ca as we enter our fourth year of telling the stories of the tech community. No place along the Ontario Technology Corridor is distant from any other. All are connected not only by the ubiquitous electronic highway but also by a physical network of fast trains and autoroutes. Engineers, geeks and academics in one locality know their counterparts along the corridor. Companies of size often have operations in two or more campuses along the corridor. With homes in both Waterloo and Ottawa, RIM is also in Mississauga and OpenText in Richmond Hill and Kingston.

The Ontario Technology Corridor should be for Canada what Silicon Valley is for the United States -- a magnet for tech dreams and money. (It’s not always appreciated that there are 16 separate cities sharing the Silicon Valley spotlight with Palo Alto and San Jose, and another half dozen, such as Redwood City and Gilroy, often associated with it.)

The Ontario Technology Corridor embraces all, is non-threatening to any and, with its stretch and size and strength, is inherently more stable and has great potential as a tool for branding, international marketing and improving connection and collaboration among all the tech clusters from Ottawa (even Cornwall) to London (even Windsor).

This is an idea that can inspire cooperation, collaboration and collective action to help bootstrap the tech startup community. It's an idea with far greater value than cost. It's one of the best kinds, an idea that fits the times.

Ontario wants to promote its knowledge sector. It must therefore celebrate its technology corridor, which is a reality even if few people know it.

We at SCAN and scansite.ca embrace it as a means to develop and strengthen Canada’s technology sector. The corridor and all that’s in it will be our hyperlocal focus from this day forward.

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