Canada’s Most Tech-Oriented Economy Must Lead to Survive
Ontario Centres for Excellence head Dr. Tom Corr says Ontario must focus on tech innovation exports.

Ontario’s future depends not only on embracing disruptive technology, but also on producing and exporting innovations built around cloud computing and artificial intelligence, says Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO of Ontario Centres of Excellence.

According to the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (BII+E), 7.5% of businesses in Ontario operate in the tech sector – the highest proportion in Canada. The tech sector is directly responsible for 7.1 percent of Canada’s economic output.

That may not be enough.

There are so many disruptive technologies coming about that are disrupting every sector of our economy, from finance to healthcare to manufacturing,” Corr said in an interview during last week’s launch of IBM’s Innovation Hub in Toronto. “It’s important that we not only adopt it, but stay ahead of it and be part of that trend.”

The IBM hub hosts startups including med tech company Analytics4Life, which is working on a new coronary artery disease test, and BigTerminal, a personalized finance news aggregator. Both use IBM Watson and IBM Bluemix technology as vital parts of their platform infrastructure.

Ontario’s knowledge in upcoming areas of technology should be considered a natural resource, Corr said. “In terms of cloud computing, artificial intelligence and cognitive computing, there’s great talent coming out of places like the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo.”

Corr said many companies in the IBM Innovation Hub, which offers startups networking and scaleup opportunities, wouldn’t have access to cognitive and cloud technology without partnering with IBM.

These resources can translate into export opportunities for Ontario and Canada.

“Should these companies see export potential in Germany, or Brazil, or in the U.S. or wherever they may be, these companies can then locate in an IBM facility in those places and get the help they need,” he said.

Corr, who holds his Doctor of Business Administration from Henley Management College in England, has led technology commercialization initiatives at University of Toronto and University of Waterloo.

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