Ottawa Welcomes the World 2017 — Beijing Week, Councillor Jan Harder, Ottawa City

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Ottawa Welcomes the World 2017 — Beijing Week, Councillor Jan Harder, Ottawa City

I had the opportunity to recently speak at a Science and Technology Innovation event organized by the Zhogguancun (ZGC) Science Park, ZGC Development Group (ZDG) and Invest Ottawa called “Bridging Innovation Collaboration Between Beijing and Ottawa.”.  It was held as part of the “Ottawa Welcomes the World 2017 — Beijing Week,” a key business network opportunity.

Beijing is a Sister City to Ottawa since 1999 when Mayor Jim Watson signed a Sister City Friendship Agreement.  Ottawa has continued that friendship by travelling to Beijing with delegates of the business, technology, tourism and education industries.  Last week, the delegation from Beijing were in Ottawa to continue fostering business opportunities between our 2 cities.  The delegation was here to meet with representatives of both the private and public sectors.

Ottawa has become the little city that could…and can!  Our city has many companies that are leading their way in a global market – software, communications and clean-tech are just a few areas that are making great strides.

Invest Ottawa, the leading economic development agency in the National Capital region, and co-organizer of this event, has been a leader in assisting with the collaboration between Beijing and Ottawa.  In fact, the ZGC Development Group has set up the ZGC Innovation Centre @ Ottawa at the Bayview Yards Innovation Centre, the new business centre where in their words, “Bayview Yards is a dynamic and energized hub that serves as basecamp for some of our greatest homegrown technology talent, capabilities and companies.”  Great things can occur when the greatest transcontinental minds come together to produce progressive communities.

Prior to this event I participated in a panel discussion on Smart Community strategies organized by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) to discuss what are smart communities and what they mean for Canada’s, and ultimately, Ottawa’s future.

What are smart communities?  A smart community is where government, business, education, healthcare and the general public come together to use information and communication technologies (ICT) to build more efficient, better environmentally-sustainable practices and improved social welfare for its citizens with the result of increased quality of life, more jobs and general prosperity.

 

ICT and its applications can aid all the different elements of a city to come together, to work together to meet the above mentioned goals.  Smart communities are not just about technology – they are about the people in these communities who must work collaboratively using their intellectual capabilities, experience, and cultural knowledge to build an inclusive and vibrant hub that is part of a globalized world.  Using this synergy, Ottawa can be a leader in the global market. Ultimately this will circle back to our city, creating a more prosperous and sustainable “smarter” city where we can benefit from the opportunities and address the challenges of urbanization and globalization.

The “Bridging Innovation Collaboration Between Beijing and Ottawa,” is an example of that global collaboration that can benefit our city.  The ZGC Science Park is China’s biggest science park.  This technology hub has over 20 000 hi-tech companies and 2 million employees.  This is a great partnership where Ottawa can benefit from networking with this innovative resource.  Capitalizing on this global partnership will help Ottawa become more competitive on the global stage and become a global leader in knowledge-based industry.  The future is here, and Ottawa is prepared to welcome it.

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