For several years, innovation has been at the heart of urban development concerns. Where does the city of Montréal stand in terms of innovation and development? Meet Sylvie Labelle, the city’s Commissioner for Economic Development and Innovation.
Invest in digital technology
Sylvie Labelle has a clear and powerful vision that’s always looking to the future. She’s carried creation and innovation in her “guts” since the day one of her career in 1989. According to her, things l are going well. "Montréal is seen as a" creative city "around the world, thanks to C2 Montréal, the video games sector, Creative Mornings, the Quartier de l’Innovation, and so on.". The creative side of the city is recognized both externally and internally.However, she believes it’s necessary to "improve our strategic efforts to develop and commercialise our products."
Her solution: mobilize massive investments in the digital sector. She believes in "integrated innovation". The old days when everyone could work in silos are gone. Today, social, economic, cultural and urban components should meet and evolve together.
"It’s also necessary that our SMEs get on board the digital experience train o much faster, and that our support services are adapted to their need. Right now, it's too complicated, we need to reduce bureaucracy and provide more mentoring services, learn to reinvent our support programs and create more cohorts of business leaders to share their best practices.
It is also necessary for our public bodies to work more in synergy, that municipal governments collaborate with higher governments."
The Quartier de l’Innovation: a gateway for investors
"For any city in this 21st century, it is very important to have a Quartier de l’Innovation." Indeed, investors are increasingly looking for entry gates to cities to quickly get to know local start-ups and to be able to invest. If a city doesn’t have an QI, who do they call?
"We are fortunate to have 150,000 students and4 major universities that work with the QI. No other city in the world holds such an important asset on one territory. It’s up to us to create synergies so that all these players perform even better and demonstrate all of Montreal’s strengths. "
But it should not stop there. Sylvie Labelle believes that the Quartier de l'Innovation will become a fully intelligent area "with connected objects, big data, electric transport, an entrepreneurial village where we take action as much in the economic, cultural, social and urban sectors; where "living together" is a practice integrated in the way we exist as a community. An area where researchers work more with businesses and where start-ups flourish while receiving high-quality support. The QI will be a living laboratory, a gateway for foreign investors to demonstrate the know-how of Montrealers. "
Montreal: an enginefor the province of Quebec?
While Montreal is considered to bean economic engine for the province, Ms. Labelle wants to see an improvement in the Quebec government's digital strategy by investing even more money in Montreal and granting it special Metropolitan status. "Today, Montreal is considered a region like any other when our city is in competition with Boston, New York or Toronto.” According to the newspaper Les Affaires, it’s clear that “the “traction” or impact of the greater Montreal area over the province’s regions is now twice that of Quebec City. It is also three times that of Toronto over otherregions of Ontario. "
For Sylvie Labelle, it’s incontestable: "Helping Montreal means helping all of Quebec."
She adds that in 1997, "we created a video game industry that did not exist at that time, simply by adopting a new labour and tax policy... we gave hope to the city’s youth, We can do the same today with other developing sectors.” The main sectors to invest in now are electric transport, sustainable development (solar energy, green chemistry), digital technology (smart cities, big data), etc. "We have to think about creating wealth "(...) we have to listen to the people on the ground and develop our leadership. "