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Big Ideas @ Rotman – Tech North

On behalf of Tiff Macklem, Dean of the Rotman School of Management, and everyone at Rotman and U of T, welcome. Thank you for joining us.

This is an incredible gathering today – we have leaders and innovators in business, government, the non-profit sector, and academia, from across the Toronto-Waterloo corridor. This includes colleagues from Kitchener-Waterloo and, in particular, I would like to welcome Dave Jaworsky, Mayor of Waterloo, Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener, as well as my esteemed colleague, friend, and counterpart, President Feridun Hamdullahpur from the University of Waterloo.

We’ve gathered here to consider the next steps in building the Toronto-Waterloo corridor into one of the world’s top technology clusters by 2025. That might sound like a tall order, late on a Friday afternoon. But we have some great foundations to build on, to realize the vision of Tech North.

As President of U of T, I could point to examples from this end of the corridor – like Till and McCulloch’s discovery of stem cells, and Geoff Hinton’s revolutionary work in neural networks and deep learning. I think of the growing cluster of industries they have helped spawn – in regenerative medicine, computational medicine, genomics, and machine learning. And I think of the explosion of innovation and entrepreneurship on our campuses as a result of these and similar breakthroughs – not least, in the incredibly exciting work of the Creative Destruction Lab here at Rotman; and through our close partnership with MaRS.

As a scholar of the economies of city-regions, I know that an institution like U of T performs a key role as an ‘anchor tenant’ in the regional economy. But it is just one part of a larger story. As part of our commitment to city building and cluster building, we are committed to enhancing our interaction with local economic actors, while also connecting this region to a range of global partners. At the same time, we are enhancing our collaboration with sister institutions in the wider region, notably our good friends at the University of Waterloo.

Our collective potential is enormous, given the economic, cultural, and knowledge assets we have here. There is so much we can achieve by working together across the wider region.

I’d like to take this opportunity to commend John Kelleher, Iain Klugman, Dan Debow, and Kevin Lynch for co-founding Tech North, and for writing the terrific report that’s inspired this marvellous turnout.

I can tell you that we’re in excellent hands for the next 90 minutes. Our moderator, John Kelleher, is Partner and In-House Executive, McKinsey & Company. In addition to being one of the four co-founders of Tech North, he is also Co-Chair of Next Canada. John, thank you for your great work and leadership. The stage is yours.

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