SUMMIT SPOTLIGHT: Taking Our Place On The World Stage

· by Richard Allen

The second annual Canada’s Innovation Corridor Summit — a collaborative initiative led in part by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce — featured a keynote address by Barbara Dirks, former head of Silicon Valley Bank in Canada. Sponsored by Gowling WLG, the talk presented top reasons Canada’s Innovation Corridor, anchored by the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area and Waterloo Region, is on the rise among an elite group of globally ranked tech innovation hubs.

Access Barbara Dirk’s Remarks HERE.

Barbara Dirks believes Canada’s Innovation Corridor is positioned to help lead the global shift to a digital economy. Image by Richard Allen

Silicon Valley Bank recently entered the Canadian market with the goal of helping domestic start ups in a mix of high-tech sectors achieve global scale. Dirks drew on her deep experience in Canadian and international banking as she described the corridor’s three core strengths.

Access to Capital: Last year, according to Dirks, Canada reached more than $4 billion in venture capital funding. Roughly 30% supported firms located in the corridor. In one week alone, Toronto benefitted from investment announcements by Intel, Uber, Microsoft and Shopify that totalled more than $1 billion. Equally impressive, Dirks said there are now 100 funding sources in Southern Ontario that play in the tech innovation space. Capital is the fuel that helps Canadian entrepreneurs “create entirely new industries and entirely new technologies,” said Dirks.

Job Opportunities: In 2018, the Toronto area created 28,000 tech jobs in sectors that rely on a steady stream of STEM grads from the corridor’s world-ranked postsecondary institutions, including McMaster University. This is “more than San Francisco, Seattle and D.C. combined,” said Dirks. An increase of homegrown career opportunities in high growth fields such as AI, data analytics and automation has helped address Canada’s decades-long brain drain dilemma.

Progressive Culture: Canada’s Innovation Corridor mirrors our nation’s values, including commitments to diversity, inclusion and public education. At a time when many other jurisdictions are strengthening their borders and rescinding trade agreements, Canada remains a beacon for newcomers and a champion of the global marketplace. Dirks said these policy positions contribute to an innovation ecosystem that is open to the world.

Canada’s Innovation Corridor Summit is an initiative of Canada’s Innovation Corridor Business Council