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Intelligent Community Awards
Intelligent Community Awards 2007

 

 

Intelligent Community of the Year
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
 

The ICF award came to North America this year, as Waterloo, best known as the home of BlackBerry developer Research in Motion, succeeded Taipei, the 2006 Intelligent Community of the Year.  The city of 115,000 people is the smallest, geographically speaking, of seven cities that make up Canada's Technology Triangle.  But with only 10% of the labor force in the Triangle, it accounts for 45% of job growth and is home to 40% of the high-tech firms in the region. 

The community's Mayor, Brenda Halloran and two of its other driving forces, Councilor Mark Whaley and Simon Farbrother, the city's Chief Administrative Officer, accepted the award on behalf of Waterloo.  A standing committee called Intelligent Waterloo, led by Research in Motion Chairman Jim Balsillie and University of Waterloo President David Johnston, has also supported the community's development by educating business leaders, academics and citizens about the challenges Waterloo faces and engaging them in goal-setting. 

According to ICF, the community's success illustrates the power of getting a few critical things right and then working together over the long haul to nurture and manage the resulting success.  The first and most important step took place at the University of Waterloo, founded in 1960 by two businessmen who saw an opportunity to create a high-level technical institution to train local business leaders.  In the 1970s, the University established an intellectual property policy that was unheard of in its day: it allowed students and faculty members to own rights in intellectual property they developed at the University.

When the introduction of the personal computer began a decades-long wave of ICT growth, Waterloo was positioned to benefit.  Investors have poured C$1.8 billion (US$1.5bn) into acquiring privately-held technology companies in the area over the past decade, and the region is home to 10% of successful IPOs on the Toronto Stock Exchange.  In Waterloo, 75% of adults use the Internet, while 76% of businesses and 47% of households are on broadband.

ICF does not, however, present its top community award for past achievement.  "Most important to us," said ICF co-founder Louis Zacharilla, who made the announcement at the Intelligent Community of the Year Awards Luncheon, "is that Waterloo has never stopped raising the bar.  Waterloo's government has engaged actively with business and citizens in planning for a prosperous future.  It introduced the award-winning Waterloo Information Network in 1998, and offers a wide range of online services to better connect government and its stakeholders.  They are active in CAP, the national program that places Internet access terminals in public locations.  Most importantly, the community has an extraordinary culture of collaboration and reinvestment.  People in Waterloo make partnership a priority and are eager to give back to the entire community." 

Examples include the many research institutes founded by successful Waterloo entrepreneurs, company donations that have turned Waterloo's libraries into ICT learning centers, a Launchpad $50K Venture Creation Competition for students, researchers and citizens run by two universities, and the Waterloo Region Immigrant Employment Network.

 

 

Intelligent Facility of the Year
Cornell Agriculture & Food Technology Park 
 
A 72-acre facility in an area of upstate New York called the Finger Lakes region was selected as ICF's Intelligent Facility of the Year.  The Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park allows food and agricultural companies to leverage the knowledge of Cornell University, known for its leadership in the study and research of agriculture, as well as a robust R&D infrastructure including state-of-the-art broadband communications.  The Park, nicknamed "The Technology Farm," opened in 2005 to support the commercialization of new technologies in the food and agriculture business.  It is the first of an expanding group of facilities intended to make upstate New York more economically viable. 

The facility identified by ICF is a 20,000 square-foot "flex tech" incubator that provides offices to 10 agri-tech tenants from around the world and offers "wet labs" and pilot production facilities.  The Park is owned by Cornell Agriculture & Food Technology Park Corporation, a non-profit organization, with strategic partners including New York State Experiment Station, Ontario (NY) County and Key Bank.

"This is a great example of how a local culture need not try to become a Silicon Valley, but can use its historic and geographic strengths, together with the intellectual capital from great universities, and harness them to broadband for good results," said John G. Jung, ICF's co-founder and Chairman.   New York State is ranked 28th in total cash receipts for all agricultural commodities, with the vast majority coming from the upstate New York region.

Susan and Les Nobel of Cornell University represented the facility and accepted the award.  Their remarks are available on ICF's News Blog.

Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year
Wikia, Inc. 

Wikia are wiki communities creating free content with MediaWiki software. These are hosted for free by Wikia, Inc., the company which runs the project. Anyone is free to start a new Wiki in accordance with the organization's policy and terms of use.  Wikia was founded by Angela Beesley and Jimmy Wales, originally under the name "Wikicities."   Wales is also the founder of the well-known Wikipedia, a wiki site.

ICF noted that MediaWiki is a collaborative tool that has had revolutionary success in creating a culture of use for broadband.  The ease of interaction and operation make wikia an effective tool for mass collaborative authoring among people eager to learn and share.  According to Mr. Zacharilla of ICF, "A wiki-powered website is as dynamic, profound, glorious, mundane and profane as are humans in physical communities."

 

 

Intelligent Community Lifetime Achievement Award
Sunderland, England

The intelligent community that gave rise to the Intelligent Community concept received ICF's second-ever Lifetime Achievement Award.  Once an industrial powerhouse in the North of England and the biggest ship-building port in Europe, Sunderland fell into a steep decline in the 1980s.  A turnaround effort that engaged every part of the community has transformed Sunderland into one of the most attractive business locations in the UK, with unemployment 1% below the national average.  It has also placed the community on ICF's Top Seven Intelligent Communities list an unprecedented five times.  ICF co-founder Robert Bell, who visited Sunderland in 1996 and 1999, presented the award to Chief Investment Officer Thomas Hurst.  Mr. Bell, who authored ICF's first white paper on Intelligent Communities and analyzed Sunderland along with Silicon Valley, Chicago and other powerful communities, said that the strategies and tactics developed by Sunderland were the inspiration for the founding of ICF.  

"You have turned a decaying, declining has-been of a city into a vibrant center of the UK's New Economy," Mr. Bell noted, "while rebuilding its industrial strength at the same time as a major European center for automotive assembly."