This year’s Convergence symposium discussed the diverse nature of innovation that is happening in the Toronto region, as well as back in the states. Our speakers examined the drivers of industry behind what they are seeing, and how they are moving forward in their particular areas of expertise ranging from technology, to academia, to healthcare, and beyond. The symposium’s seven speakers had the opportunity to share their individual and authentic perspectives on this year’s theme, “Building an Innovation Ecosystem,” and to exchange their views in a valuable group panel conversation at the end.
Highlighted below are a few of the main thoughts and outcomes from the day’s engaging discussions.
Thursday, April 11th kicked off with Siri Agrell, Managing Director of OneEleven Toronto, which is an innovation hub that supports quickly scaling technology companies, and is helping to build a sustainable, impactful, and diverse innovation ecosystem in the Toronto region. She took a lens to what has happened within the city economically, politically, and otherwise to shed light on the true value of a successful tech ecosystem. She discussed both the good and bad connotations that come with growing at such a pace that is unsustainable i.e. San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and why she’s pushing to build things differently in Canada.
Matti Siemiatycki, Interim Director at The University of Toronto School of Cities, was up next. He spoke about the trend in mixed-use buildings, and the collaborative efforts that are available to tenants within, where both students, faculty, and industry can thrive and make the most of co-location. He has studied both private and public mixes over the years, defining creative land use mixes as “good urban planning,” though he didn’t ignore the fact that many still remain who haven’t warmed up to the idea of mixing just yet. The importance of good design for him was creating spaces that turn this indifference and conflict into synergy, with users who interact with one another in a beneficial way.
Health science clusters also play a burgeoning role in the Toronto area with nearly 70 global pharma and medical device companies located there. Ella Korets Smith is the CEO of TOHealth, and she presented her thoughts on how to increase cohesiveness and the global profile of a health cluster, along with marketing perspectives toward achieving better research and innovation outcomes. Ultimately, people were the main driver of this deemed success. Through social networks and increased mobility, diverse people skills and experience, along with a hub of activity, Toronto has been a prosperous example boasting Johnson & Johnson J-Labs, Vector Institute for AI, and the MaRS Discovery District, all companies that Perkins&Will has designed spaces for.
Next was Dr. Kathleen Matt, Dean of Health Sciences at the University of Delaware. She spoke about the STAR (Science, Technology & Advanced Research) park that was built on a forgotten Chrysler Automotive Assembly Plant near campus. Increased community impact, student engagement, and translational research efforts have proven that their version of the next generation classroom is a total success, and it is not a classroom at all, at least in the traditional sense. By fostering spontaneous ideas and innovation that allow students and faculty to learn and work in a hands-on environment, this transformation has equated to a theory she referred to as the butterfly effect, where the smallest change or interaction in one location can prompt dramatic change in another. The building is even designed to resemble that of a butterfly, emerging from its base.
亨伯学院研究与创新系主任达伦·劳力士博士前来讨论他们的技术创新中心，这是另一个有影响力的加拿大珀金斯和威尔项目。 他谈到了当今毕业生在日益技术驱动的世界中几乎没有实践经验的挑战。 CTI 的目标是改变向 STEM 学生提供教育的方式，并开始塑造行业和社区合作伙伴与中学后机构合作的方式，以便在学生毕业之前实现机会和伙伴关系。 好处是双重的，学生走出高等教育机构与现实世界的技能，合作解决问题的能力，公司需要人才，也暴露学生和教育工作者的经济和工业需要，使他们能够提前准备和训练。 SEW-Eurodrive的行业合作伙伴LyallWatson高度评价了这种生态系统方法，以及他们公司自建立合作关系以来所观察到的直接利益。
Perkins 和 Will 自己的Andrew Frontini为设计创新生态系统带来了新的内部视角，以及他们的当地团队与瑞尔森大学达芙妮·考克韦尔健康科学综合体、工程学院共同学习并创造的滑铁卢大学和渥太华STEM综合楼5和7号楼。 他走过了基于项目的发现，这些发现导致他们如何设计相互关联的空间，使各部门能够在大楼内广播他们的研究，以及如何为营养、助产、护理和研究都把城市带入了建筑，并帮助实现了他们对垂直社区的愿景。 渥太华STEM综合体选择了最有趣的设计特点之一;创建优化立面玻璃孔径的设计过程，以响应太阳热增益、隐私要求和视图。
姜格兰特博士在下午举办了一个题为”让我们玩创新”的研讨会。 她要求团队走出他们的舒适区，并测试他们冒险的胃口。 这与每个人如何围绕对现有市场、新兴市场和新市场的容忍度来设想自己的建议和业务发展实践直接相关。 每个人都被任务分成小组，集思广益，集思广益，他们认为是创新的积极驱动力，那些被认为是挫折或障碍。 最终，她想把”没有错误”，只有”应用研究”的信息带回家。 没有人会是正确的，赢得100的时间，但没有尝试，没有突破那些感知的边界，你怎么知道什么是可能的？
再次感谢所有出席的人，并感谢多伦多工作室和OCAD U的盛情主持会议。 2020年见！