Fostering the Innovation Ecosystem with Greater Halifax Partnership

It’s Thursday May 22nd in Halifax. A little foggy, but Spring is in the air. A great day to start fostering innovation ecosystems.

The Greater Halifax Partnership (GHP) just released its 2014 Halifax Index: a detailed report on the state of the economy for Halifax and recommendations for growth and future direction. The report was released amidst an exciting new conversation about empowering community stakeholder ecosystems that will fuel innovation and productivity for the City and region.

GHP has taken on the task as “curator” for this innovation ecosystem in Halifax. As curator, GHP (on behalf of, and with the City of Halifax) will facilitate the discussions and empower all the participants in this collaborative network to collectively identify and pursue projects that will support the community’s economic growth, environmental sustainability, and social excellence. 

The collaborative ecosystem includes several dozens of passionate and committed individuals and organizations (300 were in attendance today) from the private sector (“providers” in the network), universities, start-ups, incubators (“pioneers” in the network), and government services, health organizations,  education institutions (“nurturers” in the network). It is the coming together and the collaboration between these providers, nurturers, and pioneers in the collaborative innovation ecosystem that will stimulate and accelerate innovation and productivity.

To voice support and commitment to the innovation and prosperity movement, all 300 participants signed a pledge:

#myHFXpledge: I am joining a unified community of people who share a common goal of social and economic prosperity and a belief in a collaborative and innovative culture. I am open to meeting anyone in this community. I will dream, listen, experiment, and persist.

…and so, another smart community movement has taken off [TEDtalk: How to Start a Movement].

The participants in the innovation ecosystem that attended GHP’s Halifax Index workshop consequently pledged to be bold, trust and be trusted, challenge active pessimism, experiment together, be a champion, and celebrate success.

Guest speaker Victor Hwang – author of the best seller book “Rainforest, the secret to building the Next Silicon Valley” – provided the opening keynote and moderated a highly interactive and collaborative workshop to help kick start the fostering of Halifax’ innovation ecosystem.

During the workshop (and as he did in his book), he drew an compelling analogy of organizations, including communities, being rainforests versus plantations, and the need for them to create environments in which to thrive in both.

Plantations reflect the world that we have created together, one that is dominated by order, structure, predictability, and process: the way farmers manage their crops. Rainforests describe the world in which ideas and innovation runs wild. Weeds (or ideas) grow everywhere and are the result of optimal environmental conditions. The question he addressed is how communities can create such environments where innovation and growth will run rampant.

Innovation ecosystems, and the open and unrestricted interaction and collaboration between the “providers”, “nurturers”, and “pioneers” in our communities will provide for such optimal environment where ideas will flourish and turn into opportunity.

Now, for sure, I am not doing Victor’s book and thought leadership justice in two paragraphs or less, and thus highly recommend you look into reading it yourself.

Cisco Canada is a strong believer in growing rainforests – while being great farmers also (when you’re on for Victor’s book, please also check out “Doing Both” by Inder Sidhu on how Cisco mastered being an innovator and disrupter, while being a nurturer of profitable core business at the same time). To that extend, we introduced our True Growth process which is a collaboration and innovation ecosystem accelerator for smart and connected communities.

We are proud to be bringing True Growth to GHP and Halifax as the innovation ecosystem is being born and will proof to be the foundation for sustained growth and opportunity. We applaud Mayor Savage, the City of Halifax, and GHP with its foresight and guts to do things differently as it is looking for different and better results for the City and region.

About Rick Huijbregts

Rick Huijbregts is Vice President of Industry Transformation where he is responsible for Cisco Canada’s IoE strategy and industry business development. The members of his team are industry subject matter experts and each engage in the transformation of their respective industries (healthcare, oil and gas, financial services, education, real estate, and industrial sector). Huijbregts is also General Manager for Cisco Canada’s Smart + Connected Communities practice, including Smart + Connected Real Estate. Huijbregts holds construction and architecture degrees from Tilburg Polytechnic University and Delft University in the Netherlands, and a doctorate from Harvard University. Huijbregts is currently a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education where he teaches classes on Smart Buildings and Smart Cities. He also serves on several boards of Canadian academic institutions and not-for-profits. Rick Huijbregts est vice-président de la transformation sectorielle dont les responsabilités comptent la stratégie de l’internet multidimensionnel et le développement commercial du secteur industriel de Cisco Canada. Les membres de son équipe sont tous des experts dans différents domaines et œuvrent à la transformation de leurs secteurs d’activité respectifs (santé, énergie, services financiers, enseignement, immobilier et industrie). Huijbregts est également directeur général du segment des communautés intelligentes et connectées, dont le volet immotique des immeubles intelligents et connectés de Cisco Canada. M. Huijbregts est titulaire de diplômes en construction et architecture de l’université Tilburg Polytechnic et de l’université Delft aux Pays-Bas ainsi que d’un doctorat de l’université Harvard. Il est actuellement professeur de Harvard à la faculté d’études supérieures pour les cadres en aménagement urbain où il donne des cours sur la gestion intelligente des immeubles et des villes. Il siège également à plusieurs conseils d’administration d’universités et d’organismes à but non lucratif.
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