WRITTEN BY: JOSH FINLAY
There are smart people doing important work in Niagara. Some of these people are found clustered at Innovate Niagara’s tech incubator downtown St Catharines.
Bright minds, many of them young, and many offering their services globally across the internet, North America wide to some of the Fortune 50. These people are making advancements and disrupting legacy business systems or making high tech additions to them. They are local people making sense of information previously uncollected, helping merchants deliver a better shipping experience, and even virtualizing things too dangerous, too big, or too cost prohibitive to experience in person. None of this is wishful thinking. It is all real, and it is right here, right now. These are important people doing important work right here in Niagara.
A tech hub is a cluster of bright minds, collaborating when needed, and all working to advance their own interests and the interests of the greater business good. Why is this really important to Niagara? The rise of the high-tech economy has brought a shift in thinking about what community is.
One City to note is Boulder, Colorado as it is most often compared to the Niagara Region. I was there and it is truly is similar in many ways: population size, access to nature within a short distance, reasonably priced real estate, solid and reliable internet infrastructure, proximity to a large population of people, air transportation, climate and even legalized cannabis. I wandered through the streets of the downtown core paved with asphalt but not open to cars. People of all ages would be doing things similar to what they might do anywhere. It was quiet and peaceful; there were some vacant stores, some transient people, none of which is that much different than downtown St. Catharines. Businesses were open, people were sitting on patios, sipping coffee in cafes or just simply wandering about.
Many people know that Boulder is a huge draw for young tech professionals. People run their own start-ups or work for Google or Microsoft (both have offices there). Why? Because young skilled people decided to make Boulder home. They spend their days hiking, biking, rock climbing, and in the winter skiing, and their late afternoons and nights in front of their computers grinding as many young people do coding software, or at the very least working remotely.
Innovate Niagara is helping to provide an environment where tech and digital media companies can flourish. It is part of a strong innovation network and situated in a highly desirable region for bright minds to gather, build innovative companies and drive our economy forward.
Josh Finlay is an Executive-in-Residence at Innovate Niagara, a Regional Innovation Centre dedicated to supporting innovative entrepreneurs and companies from a variety of industries start, grow and thrive through mentorship, market intelligence, workshops, connections and community. Connect with Josh Finlay on LinkedIn.