Ryan's Blog

The Canadian Rural Innovation Summit

The whirlwind that was the municipal election allowed many of us to focus on a future for Belleville and for the region we all want to lead. This was seen from Mayor-Elect Panciuk, and from an incredible slate of candidates, some successful, and some not. To all of you who ran, congratulations to hard fought campaigns and thank-you for your commitment to a better Belleville. To the team that was elected, I look forward to working on a progressive new council, and to everyone who is committed to furthering our city, remember to apply for city committees up until Dec 7, on http://Belleville.ca.

Thank-you also to all of the volunteers. There were hundreds of people who volunteer their time behind the scenes who where essential to all of our campaigns.

My campaign was Innovate Belleville, concocted in part because of my work in the last several years with QuinteVation but mostly on a personal level because of my children, all under 6, and because all youth in this region need real work done in order to be able to stay in this region in the next 20 years and find and create meaningful employment.

Innovate Belleville means we start diversifying our employment and innovation opportunities, and we try new methods to ensure we have entrepreneurs creating new jobs.

It means we start teaching this to our children as young as grade 1.

It means we create a culture of startup, of entrepreneurship, within the city and within the region.

And it means we start identifying, developing, and drawing the skilled talent we need to grow great companies here in Quinte.

There is something happening in the Bay of Quinte when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship; rural innovation to be exact. And that something is culminating this Monday and Tuesday at 250 Sidney St as QuinteVation hosts Canada’s first Rural Innovation Summit.

Steve Jobs said that: “innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” In Belleville and the region, there is a clear goal to lead rural innovation in the country.

I believe it’s bigger than that. Besides affordable housing, fostering innovation rurally is the single most important item we need to address regionally and nationally.

With only 45 of Canadian cities that have a population of 100,000 or more outside of a major urban commute, rural represents over 3600 municipalities in our land.

Rural by definition (because there are many) includes those municipalities of less than 100,000 people. Rural Innovation means spending time on fostering a startup community where real rural companies are started, and accelerating companies that have hit $1 million in revenue to double or triple their growth and productivity. This is the key to Canadian prosperity and growth as a nation.

It will involve working closer with Loyalist College, driving skilled labour to the region, better customer service, working closer with our elementary and secondary school system, and connecting our innovation community more routinely to provincial and national networks. It means finding more capital for companies, and more help in accelerating companies ready to grow.

Regionally we have great examples of great rural entrepreneurs: Nesda Technologies and Michael Summers, Alarm systems and Kristen Crowe, Mackinnon Brothers Brewery and Ivan Mackinnon, Kickass Media and Chris Crawford – all of whom will be at the Rural Innovation Summit on Monday and Tuesday and all of whom will be sharing their stories on why innovation rurally works.

The Canadian Rural Innovation Summit on Monday and Tuesday looks to delve into rural and innovation, years ago an oxymoron, and start to put strategies and best practices together to tackle its biggest challenges.

Newly appointed Minister of Economic Development and Trade and local MPP Todd Smith will be on hand, and keynote speakers include Amber Mac, an entrepreneur, Jeremy Laurin from Ontario Centres of Excellent, and Kevin Towes from Adobe.

You can get tickets at http://ruralinnovation.ca.

Innovating Belleville starts Monday. I look forward to being sworn in as your councillor, on a great team in Belleville Dec 3 and creating a better future for our children and for our city.