The Innovation Forum will be held at the Maple Ridge ACT on April 4.

Untrending: Creating landscape for future economy

Innovation in Emerging Cities Forum will be held at The ACT in Maple Ridge

This is the fifth installment in a series on innovation and emerging cities.

It is easy to forget, tucked as we are into the far northeastern corner of Metro Vancouver, that Maple Ridge is part of a large urban region with a population of roughly 2.463 million.

At the heart of the region is the City of Vancouver, one of the world’s Top 10 most livable cities, according to Conde Naste.

Proximity matters, and as land and housing prices skyrocket throughout the region, Maple Ridge is uniquely positioned to attract talent and investment from across the region and around the world.

Maple Ridge is an “emerging city,” with an increasing population and rapidly changing demographics. Current residential housing prices are relatively affordable by comparison to urban areas closer to downtown and we offer road, river, and local airport access, as well as outstanding outdoor and civic recreation amenities.

On April 4, Invest Maple Ridge, the city’s economic development department, is bringing together leaders in education, business, and government to explore the community’s readiness to tackle innovation in the new economy.

The free day-long event will include presentations, panels, displays, and networking breaks focused on what it takes to develop and support a culture of innovation.

The time is ripe, says Dan Ruimy, Member of Parliament for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows.

Ruimy is the chair of the Standing Committee on Innovation, Science, and Technology in Ottawa. As part of its innovation agenda, the federal government recently awarded significant partnership funds to create industry “superclusters.”

The initiative is designed to encourage academia, not-for-profit organizations and companies of all sizes to work together on strategies to boost high-growth sectors.

British Columbia has been awarded the digital technology supercluster, which will use big data and digital technologies to unlock new potential in important sectors like health care, forestry, and manufacturing.

“We are creating a landscape for the future economy, one that requires more highly-skilled workers and responsive environments,” said Ruimy.

“Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows have a great deal to offer. There are great companies here, and the communities are very attractive. We need to raise our profile and take advantage of opportunities. We can shape what our city will look like five, 10, or 15 years into the future in regard to innovation,” said Ruimy.

According to Josef Hans Lara, chair of the City’s economic development advisory committee, a wide network of talent in the advanced technology sector is already active in the community.

“A few years ago, a small group of technology professionals met informally through social media. The informal group became some of the first volunteers for the city’s Technology Task Force. There is a good network of talented entrepreneurs and tech executives who have chosen Maple Ridge as a place to live. The next step is to build a future where there are work and education options as well,” he said.

There is a saying that goes, ‘Success comes when opportunity meets readiness.’

Advanced technology and innovation are creating enormous opportunities in industry, education and improved quality of life. Governments are paying attention. How can our community create the conditions to attract, develop, and retain the talent and investment needed to prepare for the future?

It’s a conversation worth having.

• The Innovation in Emerging Cities Forum will be held at The ACT in Maple Ridge and tickets are free. Reserve your spot at innovate.mapleridge.ca.

Vicki McLeod is an author, TEDx speaker, and award-winning entrepreneur. She is a business and personal coach and consultant. She will emcee the April 4 event.

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