Montreal has won the Intelligent Community of the Year award, handed out by New York-based think-tank, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), at an awards ceremony held in the Africa Event Center at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, as the culmination of the ICF’s annual summit.
The Summit, which included networking, business exchanges, master classes and onstage conversations with each of the seven finalists, began on June 13 and concluded with Thursday night’s Awards Dinner.
At the ceremony, Rio de Janeiro’s Knowledge Squares Program, which uses digital inclusion to foster neighborhood regeneration for some of the Rio’s most impoverished citizens, was also honored with ICF’s Visionary of the Year award.
While winning this award provides recognition for Montreal’s recent advancement of its Smart City agenda, the city administration has in fact been working on developing a series of Smart City initiatives since as early as 2011, producing the city’s 2015-2017 Smart City Action Plan.
Last week, the city announced the creation of the Capital Intelligent Mtl initiative, a $100 million fund aimed at both start-ups and established businesses which offer solutions for urban challenges, launched in partnership with 23 venture capital firms, financial institutions and corporations.
The seven finalists were evaluated on six Intelligent Community Indicators, along with a seventh criteria, ICF’s annual theme, From Revolution to Renaissance.
“Our jury believed that Montreal played the innovation game at the highest possible level,” said ICF Co-Founder Lou Zacharilla. “The City has found perhaps the strongest link and example of how to go from the revolution of technology to the new Renaissance that we believe cities can enter. Montreal never strayed far from the DNA that gave the world Cirque de Soleil and a powerful games industry. It has continued to invest in innovative urban statements such as the Quartier des Spectacles, where broadband and ICT, in our view, play the proper role in enabling the economic and human expression of culture.”
Indeed, a big part of Montreal’s pitch to the ICF judging committee rested not only on the application of technological solutions to improving the city’s physical infrastructure or business culture, but highlighted the integration of technology into Montreal’s culture, and how downtown areas like the Quartier des Spectacles use technology to improve quality of life for all citizens in public spaces.
Also taken into account was the city’s robust incubator and accelerator ecosystem, which helps to develop start-up companies into potential global businesses.
The Montreal area’s world-class aerospace industry was also looked at, as well as its six Learning Labs, which specialize in areas from transportation to healthcare and urban planning, and have deployed an online collaboration system to engage its 5,000 company strong ICT cluster through open innovation.
Montreal also has a strong cluster of post-secondary institutions, which saw more than 415,000 students earning an undergraduate or graduate degree between 1998 and 2008, and emphasizes the city as a hub for high-level research and development.
This marks the fourth time since the award was created in 1999 that a Canadian city has won the Intelligent Community of the Year award, with previous winners being Toronto, Waterloo and Calgary.