This blog post was written by Allyson Tighe, Manager of Measured Innovation and Business Development at TechAlliance.
Most of you know us just as TechAlliance, but our actual full name is TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario. This means that, while the majority of the companies we work with are here in the City of London, we do have a mandate to provide services to a much larger region. Currently, about 20% of TechAlliance companies are located in the regions outside of London, but with more active engagement and business development activities, we hope to significantly increase that number over the next few years.
One of the key elements in the development of innovation in these regions will be the Intelligent Region initiative, an economic development plan run by the Southwest Economic Alliance (SWEA). This initiative aims to bring high quality and high speed internet access to the rural regions of Southwestern Ontario. Combined with the recent federal government announcement of a $305 million investment in rural broadband access (along with many other local tech-focused economic development initiatives), the stage is being set for a technology innovation boom in our region.
In this and subsequent posts, I’ll highlight a county outside of London and turn the spotlight on some of the new and interesting ideas, services, and products coming out of that region. Hopefully I’ll soon not be able to keep up with the pace of innovation.
First up, Huron County!
Huron is a large county filled with small towns each with their own distinct personality. It’s difficult to capture all of the programs and ideas aimed at increasing tech entrepreneurship in the region. I’m going to focus this post on two cool initiatives – Gateway Rural Health Research Institute and an Ag Processing Accelerator co-located in Seaforth.
On a side note, go visit Seaforth, it is in a heritage region and is a Main Street Canada town, and they have invested in maintaining its history and charm.
Gateway Rural Health Research Institute
Gateway was established to address the specific health issues of rural populations. Through formal partnerships with the medical schools at Western and McMaster, as well as the pharmacy school at Waterloo, Gateway hosts researchers and interns researching rural population health and chronic diseases. The goal of Gateway is to not only provide access to rural populations for research studies, but also to spur creativity in problem solving specific to rural health issues. The individual success stories so far are encouraging, and we’re excited to work with any innovations that are developed there!
Ag Processing Accelerator
Still in its planning stages, the accelerator has already been attracting some attention and investment. The purpose of the accelerator is to provide financing and mentoring to local, smaller agri-processing companies in the region. Following the loss of some larger employers, this kind of initiative is a way to support and grow local businesses to maintain and grow jobs in the area. Much of the planning should be complete by the fall, and TechAlliance is looking forward to helping out the companies as they grow.