Innovation conference comes to K-W


(Photo by Jessica Dik)

The Region of Waterloo will be the platform for an innovation conference set to happen Oct. 8 and 9.

The conference, hosted by CityAge, is bringing in 40 speakers and panelists from some of the world’s most innovative corporations and programs.

“We’re going to be looking at things that are working and maybe not working in the region,” said Miro Cernetig of CityAge. “And then looking at other places in North America where things can be learned from.”

This conference, under the theme of “innovation,” will be focusing on the urban city, looking at how to build and develop downtown cores and urban growth.

“How you revision those is crucial to your regions future.”

CityAge got their start in Vancouver two years ago, when Cernetig and his colleague were asked to partner in holding an international conference on how to build cities.

Their first conference brought in a crowd of 600 people coming from 50 cities worldwide.

“After that, we got asked to do them all over,” Cernetig explained. “So, we’ve done them in Toronto, Kansas City and that lead to the recent one in New York City.”

Now, CityAge has been asked to host a conference in London, England.

“What we found is that a lot of people come to CityAge conferences and a lot of these people aren’t actually from big cities,” Cernetig added. “They’re from medium-sized cities where a lot of growth is happening.”

Waterloo can now be added to that list of prospective cities entering an urban era. Deemed Canada’s “tech hub,” Waterloo is showing tremendous growth and development.

Cernetig noted the corporate attention the Region of Waterloo has been receiving in previous years, saying, “Waterloo is where you’re finding these ideas happening.”

“The Waterloo Region is crucial to the Canadian economy,” he added. “And, regardless of what’s happening with BlackBerry, there’s tremendous potential for growth in the innovation sector.”

Other aspects of Waterloo will also be evaluated, including its food and agriculture industry. A representative from the University of Guelph will speak at the conference, offering facts and figures from an agricultural point of view.

“Another thing we’ll be talking about is creative urban design,” Cernetig said.

Heather Sinclair, the CEO of Creative Enterprise will be a panelist for the conference.

She expressed her excitement about CityAge coming to Waterloo, believing it is a great step forward for the community.

“It’s really going to give us so much opportunity,” she said. “So much work has been done in this region in term of innovation.”

The conference will allow for multiple minds to collaborate on how to build and develop Waterloo’s urban core.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to all get together and take the dialogue to the next step,” Sinclair added. “What we’re doing is learning from them and contextualizing our own future.”

“There’s a lot of positive energy happening,” she said enthusiastically.

Tickets are still available and the event will be held at the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Uptown Waterloo.

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