A Good, Full Day At Canada 3.0

April 25, 2012 by Dave Haynes

A conference focused on digital innovation and issues in Canada sounded pretty intriguing when I first heard about Canada 3.0. Then I saw it was in a hockey arena complex in a town of 31,000 a good two hours outside of Toronto.


Turns out it works.

I spent the day at the 2012 Canada 3.0 at the Rotary Complex in Stratford, Ontario – about 45 minutes outside of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario (birthplace of the Blackberry). I didn’t know what to expect, but what I walked into was a really well kitted-out conference and small trade show focused on technology innovation in Canada and on the many academic, non-profit and government agencies helping foster ideas and growth.

This is definitely not a show if you are after digital signage tech, but important for anyone who wants to develop a better, broader perspective on what’s going on. What digital signage stuff was around was at a separate stand in the lobby run by the REAP (Research Entrepreneurs Accelerating Prosperity) group out of the University of Waterloo), which had some GestureTek kit (love the Surface table), some experiential Kinect stuff (take your picture inside a picture, ie Harry Potter scene) and a mobile start-up I am helping out, which has very interesting tech to turn smartphones into touchpad controllers for digital signage screens. More on them soon.

I skipped by the morning speeches with the Honourable Ministers of This and That, but liked what I saw and heard in the afternoon breakout sessions that were all quite well attended. I spent the longest in one on Social Media in the Enterprise – the most interesting stuff coming out of that all the things companies and individuals need to think about when using social media in the workplace.

There have been some interesting court cases in the US that are exploring the whole issue of what people post on Facebook and how it can and cannot be used by employers or even prospective employers. The short story is that employers who think they are going to keep social media out of the workplace are just dreaming, and those who think they can control and abuse access are in for legal bills.

The showcase trade show would be a great walk-through for anyone with ideas looking for early stage guidance, funding and other incubator help. There were many, many on hand.

The actual numbers of companies demo’ing stuff was smaller, but I saw several mobile apps firms, as you might expect, as well as companies doing really interesting things with mapping and a special keypad that people wear on their arms to use for texting and emailing in foreign languages with different characters, in countries where smartphone usage is years and years from widespread adoption.

One guy I was happy to bump into: retired Christie CTO and MicroTiles inventor Bob Rushby, who was showing off the beta version of an online publication meant as a central news and opinion hub for the 100-plus incubators out there. It’s called the Accelerator Gazette and it launches at the end of May, with Bob as Editor in Chief.

The sessions and the showcase area were very busy from what I saw, suggesting a few things. People will travel a while if they see the value in the sessions. There’s a lot of technology innovation going in the Kitchener-Waterloo and London areas. And a small town can execute pretty nicely on a fairly big conference. Some of the main rooms were indeed hockey rinks, but it didn’t feel like it.

Can’t go back tomorrow, as four years of empty nest (SNIFF!) are over and the kids are coming back from college. Moving day for my daughter.

But I’ll go back to Canada 3.0 next year.


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