Southern Ontario should be an innovation cluster, not a farm team

An excerpt from an article by Patrick Deane, President of McMaster University, Meric Gertler, President of the University of Toronto, and Feridun Hamdullahpur, President of the University of Waterloo. Read in full on The Globe and Mail. 


A Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur recently asked a stark question whose answer holds major implications for our future prosperity.

At the Waterloo Innovation Summit in September, Steve Blank pointedly wondered whether we should be content to let Southern Ontario be a farm team, continuing to leak talent, ideas and companies south to the United States. Instead, shouldn’t we try to build an unique ecosystem that generates, attracts and retains talent, and stands tall on the world stage?

We’re already a world player with a strong higher education system, an enviable immigration record and generous research and development provisions, all conducive to nurturing innovation. And with a lower Canadian dollar and accelerating U.S. growth, it would appear we’re on the right path.

But Canada’s economy is structurally volatile, with natural resources providing both huge advantages in the good times and major displacement when global energy markets decline. Add in the turbulent nature of the disruption economy and we find that our economic foundations are shaking under our feet.