Energy-efficient buildings; enhanced information to aid first responders in emergency situations; seamless journeys through the built environment. For Innovate Cities, the possibilities are endless.

Communities around the world are using data and connected technologies to improve the quality of life for their citizens, while boosting economic development. Innovate Cities, a not-for-profit network of innovators, is leading the discovery of made-in-Canada solutions and encouraging business scale up, intellectual property (IP) development and export opportunities—right here in southern Ontario.

With over $11 million in support from FedDev Ontario, Innovate Cities is developing an urban innovation cluster, focused on the creation of safer, more sustainable and resilient communities. Its founding members include Thoughtwire and innovation expert Urban Living Futures, as well as leaders in artificial intelligence, indoor mapping, traffic management and secure cloud infrastructure. Innovate Cities is ready to lead communities into the future by pooling Canadian expertise, talent and capabilities.

Not only will this initiative create hundreds of new, highly skilled jobs, it will help innovative companies seize significant commercialization opportunities that exist within the smart cities space. And, state-of-the-art technology will help to address energy conservation, public safety, emergency response and climate change challenges. The result? Smarter, more efficient, connected and resilient urban environments.

“Canadians know there is boundless potential for sustainable development and this investment demonstrates the federal government’s commitment to ensure our Canadian network of innovators is well placed to lead the future of communities that work,” says Mikele Brack, Executive Director of Innovate Cities. “The Government of Canada shares our commitment to create safe, accessible, energy-efficient spaces that benefit all citizens, while delivering economic diversification and job creation.”

Through this first-of-its-kind collaboration, Innovate Cities is creating CommunityHub, a cloud-based platform where Canadian start-ups and scale-ups can design, co-develop and validate solutions to key urban issues. These technologies will be installed in real-world environments to demonstrate their performance, accelerate their adoption and help the companies scale their growth. The first large-scale collaboration projects focus on emergency response and energy conservation.

In addition, Innovate Cities is creating CommunityWorks, a series of programs aimed at building expertise and capacity for the urban innovation community and a Centre of Excellence for smart city solutions in southern Ontario to educate citizens and public and private sector leaders, showcase made-in-Canada technologies, and attract talent and investment.

While innovative technologies make our lives easier, the future of smart cities must be built on one essential principle: trust. That is why Innovate Cities will employ leading principles such as privacy by design to ensure the interests and privacy of Canadians are protected. To accomplish this, they will apply expertise in data governance and cybersecurity and work collaboratively with their partners, including the Chief Information Officer (CIO) Strategy Council and the Government of Canada, to ensure the responsible deployment of technology and use of data in the urban environment.

Innovate Cities is giving a collective voice to this important sector and fostering an ecosystem to scale up small- and medium-sized Canadian enterprises to compete globally. By harnessing the power of technology and innovation, this initiative will help create safer, more efficient and enjoyable communities, while creating jobs and positioning southern Ontario as a leader in urban innovation.


Recipient: Innovate Cities
Region: Southern Ontario
Stream: Regional Innovation Ecosystem
Total funding allocated: $11.1 million