It’s time to get creative

If you haven’t already, check out the Ontario in the Creative Age report released last week by Richard Florida and Roger Martin of the Rotman School of Management. It’s focused on Ontario, but it applies to every major city in Canada.

It’s fascinating stuff, but also in-depth. Simply put it discusses how Ontario needs to develop an economy based on creative industries, and focus less on traditional, “routine” jobs. To get there, Florida and Martin say we must follow the 3T’s – tolerance, talent and technology.

Hard to argue Canada’s diversity, so in their view we have the tolerance part covered. When it comes to talent we’re better than average, but “Ontario trails leading peer states by a wide margin” on education attainment, according to Florida and Martin. They point out that 37 per cent of people in Massachusetts, for example, work in creative occupations, versus 30 per cent here. So good, but not great.

On the flipside, Ontario shines in technology – at least to a point. High tech employment numbers here are among the biggest in North America. But we still lag in innovation, as seen by the relatively low number of patents. As the report states, talent attracts technology, and vice versa – so both are crucial to building a revitalized economy, and it’s hard to excel in one without the other.

I agree with Florida and Martin – we need to focus continue focusing on innovation. The changes have already started, and it’s time to get ready.

The report also puts a whole new light on the Ignite IT Awards (have you nominated yet?). Making Ontario – and Canada – a better place to live starts with showcasing our creativity. Looking forward to seeing this year’s submissions, and celebrating creativity.  Here’s one great example – a solution that helps track wildfires .

To play our part, my team and I remain focused on supporting innovation and building skilled talent.  This includes the work we do with schools like Waterloo, at events like Mesh, supporting startups with BizSpark and with our programs like EnergizeIT and Techdays.