Innovation in Emerging Cities

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Goal of the event:
Innovation in Emerging Cities was a day-long forum featuring a mix of keynote speakers and interactive panel discussions designed to explore the role of business, government and post-secondary institutions in creating and supporting a culture of innovation.  The forum highlighted the City of Maple Ridge’s commitment to supporting innovation and its ability to work collaboratively with business, post-secondary education, First Nations and the federal and provincial government to achieve this goal.

The event’s keynote speakers included Steve Dotto, a well-known tech personality; Dr. Salvador Ferreras, Provost and VP Academic from Kwantlen Polytechnic Univeristy; and Jesse Dougherty, the GM for Amazon Vancouver. Two of the panels featured a mix of business, post-secondary, local government and First Nations leaders discussing “How to Foster a Culture of Innovation” and “Attracting, Developing and Retaining Talent” in smaller cities. The third panel featured Mayor Nicole Read, MP Dan Ruimy, and MLA Bob D’Eith discussing “How Government Supports Innovation” and featured a video introduction from the Honourable Navdeep Bains, the Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

Effectiveness / Meeting Objectives:
Innovation in Emerging Cities was a first-time event that attracted 250 registrants, exceeding our target of 175 registrants. We were able to leverage the City’s initial investment of $15,000 to secure an additional $26,200 in sponsorship and generate a $5,000 profit on the event. A number of sponsors have already indicated their interest in sponsoring the 2019 event. We also recruited a number of volunteers for a newly formed Innovation Forum Task Force that has already met to begin planning the next Innovation in Emerging Cities forum in 2019.

The major challenges included working with a limited budget and very little lead time (Council approved the $15,000 budget 10 weeks prior to the event), and planning an event with multiple stakeholders including our local MP, two MLAs and community volunteers.

A second challenges was that many of the volunteers and panelists had significant travel commitments in the months prior to the event so some of the planning and preparation sessions were done through a combination of teleconferences, in-person meetings and individualized follow-up.

Target Audience
We knew that in order for the event to succeed, we would need to attract a significant number of attendees from outside of Maple Ridge.  This led us to develop a robust online and social media strategy targeting business owners and tech professionals in Metro Vancouver, specifically in downtown Vancouver. We were able secure 250 registrants from throughout Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley including local business owners, tech entrepreneurs, post-secondary educators and students, and government officials.

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