October 2, 2013 By John Jung
Happening this week in Eindhoven- a unique experiment in global collaboration between Intelligent Communities of the Year
In 2007 the small but uniquely positioned Waterloo Region in Ontario, Canada had aggressively pursued their application for Intelligent Community of the Year and won. In 2011, a similarly small but uniquely positioned Eindhoven Region in the Netherlands had aggressively pursued their application and won. They each had specific strengths that the adjudicators felt were the best of class for that year among ICF submissions and related to an Intelligent Community theme. They have been inspirations for other cities around the world and the awareness developed from their award has attracted increased business activity and even foreign direct investment. Independently these Intelligent Communities have done extremely well and as a result these Intelligent Communities have continued to be involved with the Intelligent Community movement.
Over the years, the two Mayors of each of these Intelligent Communities began to get to know each other by attending events such as ICF’s Annual Summit in New York City every June, as did other members of each other’s community. There was some research undertaken between the two regions and last June, after the ICF’s Summit, Eindhoven Mayor Rob van Gijzel traveled with a small delegation from New York to Waterloo Region to see for himself. They visited the University of Waterloo’s Center for Automotive Research (WATCAR), the newly opened Quantum and Nanotechnology Centre (QNC), Communitech Hub and many other aspects of the Waterloo Intelligent Community. A community-wide sharing exercise culminated their two day visit with an MOU signed between Waterloo’s Mayor Brenda Halloran with Eindhoven. Mayor van Gijzel and his delegation were surprized at the similarities, yet there was so much more to learn and to explore between the two regions. Accordingly, Mayor van Gijzel invited the mayors from the Waterloo Region to visit his region in the Netherlands. Plans for follow-up between the two regions have come together and this week from October 2 to 4, 2013, the two regions are meeting in Eindhoven to further their exploratory mission.
The power of reaching out to create a new global partnership as two like-minded Intelligent Communities, seemed simple enough, but the follow-up to implement a visit to each other’s cities became an even bigger opportunity. The three mayors that make up the region of Waterloo, namely the Mayors of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo will be meeting the Mayors of Eindhoven as well as its regional communities of Veldhoven, Helmond and Best. In addition to government, the University of Waterloo (UW) and Canada’s Technology for Food (CTFF) will be meeting with their respective organizations in the academic and business sectors. And the respective economic development officials from the Waterloo Region’s cities and Canada’s Technology Triangle (CTT), a regional economic development organization focused on FDI, will be meeting staff from Brainport, an impressive regional economic development agency representing the Eindhoven Region to discuss mutually-beneficial opportunities for pursuing some unique economic development initiatives between the two regions. One of these discussions will be to develop a program to share information, promotion and exchanges between the two region’s talent pools; another is to share experiences and contacts between organizations of similar sectors; and the idea of potentially linking to yet another like-minded Intelligent Community. It is proposed that the two regions- one from North America and the other from Europe will join a third region, in Asia, that the other two believe will benefit from the global triangle of Intelligent Communities. This is a simple idea but has some powerful opportunities.
These Intelligent Communities from each major time zone will be able to share, exchange and benchmark their progress; they will be able to raise awareness of each other’s key sectors; develop initiatives that the three Intelligent Communities have common interests in; and pursue special projects that can become models for other Intelligent Communities around the world. In fact, the concept has already inspired other cities to begin to explore this approach among the Intelligent Community Forum Foundation members.
From an Intelligent Community Forum perspective, this experiment has tremendous potential and could help inspire other communities, but is not a replacement for the Sister Cities concept. However, it could evolve into an exciting way to develop targeted economic development initiatives that would resonate between and among the partners of the global triangle. For instance, the universities among these three international city regions could develop a focused exchange of students and professors; the incubators in the global triangle could target each other’s companies for potential joint venture partnerships; the venture capital from each other’s regions could become more familiar with the international opportunities of investing in these regions; and there could be specific collaborative initiatives which would never have happened without the familiarity and personal relationships that will naturally develop over time with regular information sharing, targeted projects and aiming together to reach new and higher levels of international trade and development competence and prosperity.
This week’s visit has very high hopes but is also an opportunity to explore new directions for each of the regions and could potentially be of great benefit for the third region in mind, as well. Perhaps in time we will be able to follow-up on Eindhoven-Waterloo Collaboration 2.0 and see where this little visit this week will lead them.
About the Intelligent Community Forum
The Intelligent Community Forum is a think tank that studies the economic and social development of the 21st Century community. Whether in industrialized or developing nations, communities are challenged to create prosperity, stability and cultural meaning in a world where jobs, investment and knowledge increasingly depend on advances in communications. For the 21st Century community, connectivity is a double-edge sword: threatening established ways of life on the one hand, and offering powerful new tools to build prosperous, inclusive and sustainable economies on the other. ICF seeks to share the best practices of the world's Intelligent Communities in adapting to the demands of the Broadband Economy, in order to help communities everywhere find sustainable renewal and growth. More information can be found at www.intelligentcommunity.org.
Robert Bell is co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum, where he heads its research and content development activities. He is the author of ICF's pioneering study, Benchmarking the Intelligent Community, the annual Top Seven Intelligent Communities of the Year white papers and other research reports issued by the Forum, and of Broadband Economies: Creating the Community of the 21st Century. Mr. Bell has also authored articles in The Municipal Journal of Telecommunications Policy, IEDC Journal, Telecommunications, Asia-Pacific Satellite and Asian Communications; and has appeared in segments of ABC World News and The Discovery Channel. A frequent keynote speaker and moderator at municipal and telecom industry events, he has also led economic development missions and study tours to cities in Asia and the US.
ICF co-founder John G. Jung originated the Intelligent Community concept and continues to serve as the Forum's leading visionary. Formerly President and CEO of the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance and Calgary Economic Development Authority, he is a registered professional urban planner, urban designer and economic developer. He leads regular international business missions to US, European, Asian, Indian and Australian cities, and originated the ICF Immersion Lab program. John is a regular speaker at universities and conferences and serves as an advisor to regional and national leaders on Intelligent Community development. The author of numerous articles in planning and economic development journals, he has received global and Toronto-based awards for his work in collaboration and strategic development and sits on numerous task forces and international advisory boards.
ICF co-founder Louis Zacharilla is the creator and presenter of the annual Smart21, Top Seven and Intelligent Community Awards and oversees ICF's media communications and development programs. He is a frequent keynote and motivational speaker and panelist, addressing audiences of tech, academic and community leaders around the world, and writes extensively for publications including American City & County, Continental Airline's in-flight magazine and Municipal World. His frequent appearances in the electronic media have included both television and radio in South Korea, China and Canada. He has served as an adjunct professor at Fordham University in New York and is a Guest Lecturer at Polytechnic University's Distinguished Speaker Series. He holds a Masters Degree from the University of Notre Dame.