Calling all innovators!

During this year’s Smart Cities Challenge, we asked the public for input in to the most significant challenges facing our City.  We had hundreds of people respond to the survey; most of whom I had never met before and probably wouldn’t meet in my day-to-day life.  The thoughtful responses made me realize we have people sitting at desks, working in labs, or hanging out in living rooms across the region with amazing ideas to share and incredible skills and abilities to help us solve real problems.

Our problem is we don’t have good mechanisms to reach these people and engage them in developing innovative solutions to problems.

Engaging the innovators

Everyone is talking about the need for innovation, but my experience tells me we really don’t know where to find innovators or exactly how to tap in to them.  People don’t walk up to you at a party and introduce themselves as an innovator, and there’s no one place where “innovators” hang out.

This is one of the reasons we’ve launched the Smart and Connected Innovation Challenge.  We want to find and empower innovators in our community – those people who love to come up with solutions to problems – and support them in developing their solutions.

To fuel innovators and get them excited about developing solutions, we also want companies and organizations to present their problems to the community.  Chances are, most industry or community problems aren’t unique.  If we can solve a problem here, there’s a good chance that solution can be applied to similar problems in other companies or communities. And if this is the case, we’ve got something we can develop and export.

With the advancements in data analytics and internet-enabled technology, solving problems using data and connected technology is becoming easier then ever before.  The Smart and Connected Innovation Challenge is looking for solutions to problems that leverage data and connected technology.  Whether it’s a way to improve customer retention or help seniors live more independently, solutions that leverage data and connected technology can be one of the ways we address these challenges.

Are you ready to take your idea to the next level?

For the next month, we want to connect with innovators and we want problem-owners to share their greatest challenges. Let’s see what we can do together to solve some of our most compelling industry and community problems. The ideas can come from anywhere.  If you’ve got a problem you want to solve, or want to work on solving someone else’s problem, come talk to me.

For more information about the Smart and Connected Innovation Challenge, visit

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