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A New Era of Innovation in Halifax

Posted: June 27, 2017

This blog was originally published in our 2016-17 Annual Report, Accelerate.

In the heart of our city is Halifax’s emerging Innovation District, the place where our start-ups and leading firms, business incubators and accelerators, and anchor post-secondary and research institutions are clustered and colliding to create new and better ways of doing things.

You can see the rise of the District with the growth of Dalhousie University’s Sexton campus, Halifax’s new Central library, several new mixed-use developments and innovation centres, a growing number of early-stage technology companies, and incubators Volta Labs and Innovacorp.

Our innovation ecosystem is driven by multiple sectors – IT, clean tech, ocean tech, agri-food and seafood, health and life sciences. Our post-secondary institutions are leaders in medical and ocean research and countless technologies. The $29 billion shipbuilding contract, and over $250 million in public and private investments in the Ocean Frontier Institute and the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) is positioning Nova Scotia for a world-leading oceans-technology cluster.

“Innovation districts constitute the ultimate mash up of entrepreneurs and educational institutions, start-ups and schools, mixed-use development and medical innovations, bike-sharing and bankable investments – all connected by transit, powered by clean energy, wired for digital technology and fuelled by caffeine... [They] represent a radical departure from traditional economic development.”
– Brookings Institute

Cities and regions that invest in innovation experience greater economic growth, generate high-wage high-value jobs, and attract the brightest minds and top companies from around the world. Innovation is a key strategy in achieving Halifax’s Economic Growth Plan vision and Nova Scotia’s and Atlantic Canada’s innovation agenda.

For over 20 years, the Halifax Partnership has led the private, public and community sectors in forging and driving a vision for economic growth and development in our city. Our vision is to build a globally-recognized innovation ecosystem in Halifax that accelerates entrepreneurship and the commercialization of leading-edge ideas and research throughout the region.

Over the next three years, the Partnership will lead the development of Halifax’s Innovation District, working in collaboration with Dalhousie University and other post-secondary partners, the private sector, Nova Scotia’s MIT REAP team, and all levels of government. The Province of Nova Scotia is contributing $2.5 million in this initiative, part of its $8.5 million investment in entrepreneurship and innovation in Nova Scotia.

“The establishment of an innovation district in downtown Halifax will change how technology and innovation is perceived in the region and how global talent and companies perceive us as a place to do business.”
- Jesse Rodgers, CEO Volta Labs

Together, we will leverage and build upon Halifax’s unique strengths – our ocean advantage, educated workforce and top-notch institutions, our strategic location and excellent quality of life, and our vibrant start-up community and established firms – to scale-up innovation and accelerate growth.

The elements of success are in place, and the opportunity has never been greater for Halifax to win. The Halifax Partnership is reinventing and reorganizing to align with the opportunity at hand. We are selling our excellent product of Halifax, proudly and boldly in markets around the world. We are working to better understand our companies’ and post-secondary institutions’ capabilities, R&D and growth opportunities – connecting the innovation dots and fast-tracking commercialization.

This is how we will win, and the Partnership is excited to be leading the charge. Learn more about Halifax's Innovation District.

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