Global Connect: Wonky, but in a Good Way

Late in coming, I thought I would blog my impressions from the Global Connect conference at MaRS last week. My quick take-aways:

  • IP transfer is broken, especially in Canada
  • VC is broken, sort of. maybe. especially in Canada. I guess.
  • Paul Kedrosky rocks and should live in Toronto, damn it
  • Ross Wallace and Ilse Treurnicht of MaRS did a fantastic job
  • The innovation race is just beginning
  • The blogging wonkosphere is lonelier than I thought

More after the jump…

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My favourite creative cities trio Ilse, Tim Jones and Geoff Cape stimulated a roomful of science and commercialization people to think about the cultural dimension and the importance of place. I enjoyed seeing David Pecaut of the Toronto City Summit Alliance speak for the first time and Adam Bly of SEED Magazine brought a healthy dose of NYC skepticism to a wonk-filled room.

SEED Magazine (“Science is Culture”) is a great new mag, run by a Canadian living in New York, naturally. If you love cool science, feisty science, science with attitude check it out and subscribe to the RSS feeds. Oh and there’s a podcast, of course. A print mag that really gets how to use the new tools to create stickiness with its audience. Very well done.

Mark Bradley of ATP Innovations (Sydney) did a session on social media tools and their application for emerging startups and commercialization. It was really intended to bring the commercialization folks up to speed on the tools. I was one of the few bloggers in attendance and embarrassingly raised my hand at Bradley’s many questions of “who uses” and “who has read”: Cluetrain. Naked Conversations. Long Tail. Blogging. RSS. Wikis…the usual suspects. I was shocked to see how new this stuff is to people whose jobs are all somehow related to technology, innovation and commercialization. Much of the audience was a bit bewildered. They really should just call my friend Tom at Firestoker for a primer. And meetings in Second Life, well that’s just ridiculous, isn’t it? [UPDATE: See Mark Bradley’s post on Global Connect here.]
I had some great conversations with the lovely and talented Catarina von Maydell from the National Angel Organization and Toronto Angel Group. She provided some excellent insight into how we might bring rich people and nerds together more successfully in Toronto.

The Race is On

The dimensions of the 21st century global innovation race are just starting to emerge. When everybody around the world is echoing each other about how important innovation is to their economic future, the real competition is to understand the nature of the innovation goose. While there are some good models to look to around the world, nobody’s really figured out how economies can compete effectively on innovation, which means it’s up for grabs.

The question in the Toronto context is this: Can the various parties to the process work together in new ways? If the region is to be an innovation engine on the world stage, then the players in the ecosystem need to understand that there is a lot they don’t know and that this a long-term collective project for entire communities that will likely define this generation.

Can a city-region create sustainable competitive advantage?

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