The MaRS Innovation District in Downtown Toronto is one of the oldest high technology clusters with the exception of Silicon Valley in the US.
MaRS is also one of the largest and highest concentrated clusters with many small to medium-sized businesses. In common with the clusters we have visited In Cambridge/Boston US, they are focused on generating social impact as much as wealth. They say they bring together "educators, researchers, social scientists, entrepreneurs and business experts under one roof”. I visited other innovation centres and co-working spaces, but MaRS certainly was one of the most ‘corporate’ looking with it’s sleek glass-sided high rise towers.
Last September (2016) I interviewed the George Spezza, who is Head of Business Growth Services for the City of Toronto as part of our trips collecting data in North America and Europe for the project. He believes Canada needs to expand its ‘traditional’ business links with America to include Europe.
The city of Toronto is interested in worked with the city of London in the UK to build links as there are common interests and a trade delegation from London had been visiting that week, to see the MaRS Innovation District, and to make links. FCAD, Ryerson University’s Faculty of Communication and Design has a new partnership with London South Bank University’s School of Arts and The Creative Industries. The two universities are undertaking joint research into - for example - virtual reality and hyper-local news–gathering. Partnership working, and particularly trans-atlantic partnerships where there is a five hour time difference requires new kinds of communication techniques. We are finding this works when there is a common work culture. As we work through the data the specific elements of what that is should emerge.