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Join the #DigitalCanada movement – Help Build a Next Generation Digital Supercluster

DigitalCanada.io is a social business network, like Linkedin, but dedicated to Canada and furthermore, a mission of supporting national efforts for Canada to become the world’s leading digital nation.

As well as the social community the site offers a number of features for enabling Virtual Collaboration, including blogs, wikis, project groups, video chatrooms and e-learning virtual classrooms.

A Next Generation Digital Supercluster

The purpose of these is to provide the tools to build a “Next Generation Digital Supercluster”, a community platform to achieve the headline goal and itself a world first.

This concept is defined through fusing the research agenda of one of Canada’s “Superclusters“, notably the Digital Supercluster, with a technology platform that can scale it across the entire nation, an approach Cisco described in this 2010 white paper – Next Generation Clusters.

Digital Economy Blueprint

Although Canada’s Superclusters program are regional in focus, they actually offer an R&D agenda that is ideal for the whole country, described in detail in their Capacity Building strategy.

In particular in line with the goals of DigitalCanada.io, the Digital Supercluster identifies an R&D framework ideal for chartering a network intended to develop Canada’s digital economy, including:

  • Develop Indigenous talent for future workforce and support Indigenous enterprises;
  • Leverage work-integrated learning platforms;
  • Develop diverse talent through relevant certification, work experience, education and training;
  • Develop industry-relevant secondary, post-secondary and/or post-graduate expertise in digital innovation;
  • Leverage access to Canada’s pool of scientific, technical, engineering expertise and capabilities;
  • Encourage and enable senior-level digital and business development talent to work and develop skills in Canada;
  • Support workforce transformation for industries facing digitization and automation, including re-skilling of Canadians;
  • Use online or technology-based methods to reach potential talent, both to encourage them to pursue a career in tech and to train relevant skills; and,
  • Develop best practices of diversity and inclusion that enable organizations to be more inclusive of participation by women and other under represented groups.

Moving Toward a New Model Led by Virtually Connected Innovation Hubs

The central thesis of the Cisco white paper is ‘Moving Toward a New Model Led by Virtually Connected Innovation Hubs‘, a new paradigm which calls for three fundamental shifts:

  • From geography-based to community-driven.
  • From locally processed innovation to open, borderless innovation.
  • From technology-driven to technology-enabled.

A fundamental principle at the heart of Michael Porter’s cluster model, upon which the Superclusters are based, is that they are centered geographically, typically organized around a university who provide the backbone of the R&D capacity.

The simple but transformative idea for Next Generation Clusters is that they are virtually organized, around subject matter not geography, with Cisco proposing this community is achieved through various social and video collaboration technologies, that make possible innovative new business models for the process of innovation itself, such as:

  • A social-video community where contest participants can record, edit, and share videos; comment, rate, and tag interesting content.
  • An online meeting platform for audio and web conferencing that enables users to share documents and desktops in real time.
  • A search platform that dynamically tags content as it crosses the network, allowing contest participants to accurately locate and rapidly connect with the best experts and information on a particular topic.
  • “Virtual Tuesdays,” when entrepreneurs make a series of pitches to potential investors around the world. Virtual Tuesdays are modeled after “First Tuesdays,” a social movement focusing on technology, the Internet, and future innovation that started in 1999 in London’s Soho district, eventually spreading across Europe.
  • The Startup Stop and Shop, a web space where video recordings of all entrepreneurs’ pitches are made available so that potential investors can search for opportunities at their own leisure. “Virtual Guardian Angels,” a mentorship program that connects those seeking and offering best business practices and advice, could provide yet another virtual experience.
  • An idea market that lets contest participants establish the value of their ideas through trades. Participants purchase shares of ideas with “virtual currency” awarded to them, based on the value of their
    contributions to the platform.

Where the paper was written in 2010 and by a vendor, it proposes more traditional, proprietary collaboration technologies, and so our goal is to achieve the same system, using modern Cloud-based web applications.

We’ve established the capabilities that could enable all of these ideas, and so the next step is to now collaboratively explore and develop the specific models for implementing them.

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