International Innovation Conference at the University of Waterloo

On July 10-11, 2013, the International Conference on Innovation was held in Waterloo, ON.

One of the conference organizers was CERBA – Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association. The main topic of the conference was creation and growth of small and medium innovation businesses with international focus at large science hubs. The purpose of the conference was to promote innovation among youth and to stimulate productive collaboration among scientific&educational institutions and industrial  enterprises, development of professional collaboration and international cooperation, and creation of an open environment for cooperation, education and knowledge exchange.

The first day of the conference included three  sessions:

1: Commercialization of Innovations Projects in the Global Market: Challenges and Perspectives
2: The Economics of Leadership and Innovation
3: Innovation Journey: Path to success.

The fourth session (on the next day) was on academia and industry collaboration.

The speakers were renowned educators, scientists, CEOs, heads of research centers, government representatives, embassy officials etc. Some of the keynote speakers were: George Wright, Director, Global Industrial Partnerships, Office of Research, University of Waterloo; Peter Molnar, Advisor, International Research Collaborations, Ministry of Economic Development, Trade, and Employment, Ministry of Research and Innovation; Emil Strumban, Director, Multinational Startups, International Centre for Innovative Technology Transfer; Alina Pekarsky, President, Sci-Tech Ventures Associates; Senior Account Executive, Russia & CIS Programs, Schulich Executive Education Centre, York University; Irina Muhina, Managing Director, Manulife Asset Management Centre; Cedric Jeannot, CEO, I Think Security, and many others.

Here is what Peter Braid, MP, Kitchener-Waterloo said during his welcome remarks: “Waterloo Region is well-known as a centre of technology and innovation. Our first-rate universities and research institutions attract bright young minds that are generating new and exciting discoveries that will change the world. At the same time, our supportive ecosystem helps to channel this creativity towards economic opportunities that will ensure a prosperous future”.

The audience wanted to learn more about the Canadian Foreign Investments regulations and how Canada provides incentives to the foreign investors from different industries. The panelists explained that Canada has a decentralized approach between Federal and Provincial Government having differing strategies when it comes to attracting foreign investments and the related regulations. Moreover, they noted that the government at various levels provides tailor made incentive packages to each individual FDI project. The Canadian government is focused on creating an innovative commercially-dynamic and entrepreneurial-friendly business climate which will attract more FDIs. The country doesn’t offer specialized incentives to foreign investors, however they have a strategy to stimulate investments in innovative industries.

The advice that the speakers gave to the entrepreneurs is to never go alone, instead they should seek technological soulmates. Stay persistent; don’t expect too much help from the government. On the other side, students should be encouraged to implement their ideas and find professors who will continuously support and motivate them. And, most importantly, students were advised to create a great network of professionals around themselves in order to realize their goals more efficiently.

After the end of the conference, the attendees were taken for a tour in the Communitech hub, an innovation hub where industry leaders, startups, and students come together.

Communitech outside
Velocity
They were told a success story of Bufferbox, an innovative and successful startup based in the Hub.
BufferboxBufferBox Inc. is a Canadian startup company from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada co-founded by Jay Shah, Aditya Bali, and Mike McCauley. It is a service offering users a temporary parcel pickup station for packages ordered online. After conducting a pilot trial at the University of Waterloo, the service began spreading to various locations in the Greater Toronto Area. A deal was announced in early November 2012 to install kiosks at GO Transit stations.
In 2012 BufferBox had been acquired by Google for more than $25 million. The acquisition is seen as a step to compete with Amazon’s Locker service.

Virtualreality A demonstration of virtual reality environment (created by a company member of the Hub) for the conference attendees.
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