Hamilton featured on the MaRS Discovery Blog: Canada’s Human Capital

Check out this blog post created by MaRS, written by Jerry Koh! MIP is so excited to have Hamilton and its innovation community continue to get noticed. See what a proposed Hamilton CityLab might bring to our very own #HamONT.

When you think of Hamilton, Ontario, what comes to mind? The Hammer? Steel Town? Smokestacks?

When we visited Hamilton in February, we saw a beautiful city nestled between the soaring Niagara Escarpment to the south and Lake Ontario to the north, surging life science and health academia and businesses, and a downtown core poised for growth and change. The most striking thing of all was the conviction and passion of our hosts about Hamilton and the potential of its people.

The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce believes it might be time to unleash this potential by adding a citizen-led social innovation lab to the city’s arsenal. Let that sink in for a moment. At MaRS Solutions Laband Social Innovation Generation, we regularly receive requests from governments and community organizations for advice on setting up social innovation labs, but this is the first time we’ve had such a request from business owners.

Business turns to labs

In 2012-2013, Geraldine Cahill and her colleagues undertook field research about Hamilton’s social and economic challenges as part of the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation. When the results of the study were presented, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce was sufficiently convinced of the value of a social innovation lab that it wanted to explore the idea further with a broader group of Hamiltonians. Thanks to Keanin Loomis, president and CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, and Doug Ward and Paul Lakin, members of the chamber’s Science, Technology and Innovation Sub-Committee, we found ourselves introducing social innovation labs to a room full of business owners, academics, community leaders, political leaders and civil servants at McMaster Innovation Park.

Continue Reading… 

 

Emerging Stronger 2014: Hamilton leading the way

Hamilton, ON, FEB 11th 2014: The Hamilton-Niagara Peninsula region leads the province in business confidence, according to a new survey from the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Leger Marketing. The annual Ontario Business Confidence Index shows that 59 percent of surveyed businesses are confident in Ontario’s economy–up a significant 15 percentage points from last year.

The index also shows that 82 percent of businesses in the region are confident in their own organization’s outlook, a 12 percentage point increase over the previous year. Over 71 percent of businesses in the region plan to expand within the next five years.

“The results of the index reaffirm the incredible momentum and energy in the Hamilton community over the last few years”, says Keanin Loomis, CEO Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. “We hope to continue working with all levels of government over the next year to ensure we utilize effective policy and legislative tools necessary for the business community to realize their goals”.

“The Hamilton-Niagara region is home to some of Ontario’s most forward-thinking and able businesses,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “It only makes sense that they would lead Ontario in confidence.”

The survey of businesses is featured in Emerging Stronger 2014, a business-driven economic agenda released by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and authored by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Mowat Centre and Leger Marketing. The report identifies the immediate steps that government and the private sector must take to enhance Ontario’s economic competitiveness and spur job creation in the province.

“There are actions that government and business can do to boost our economy and business confidence,” adds O’Dette. “While confidence is up big time in the Hamilton-Niagara region, we’re still concerned about uncertainty in the overall business climate, including pending changes to the pension environment and energy costs.”

“There are a number of recommendations within the Emerging Stronger report that stuck out to me as incredibly relevant for the Hamilton regional economy” says Keanin Loomis, CEO Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. “Through a series of improvements to the regulatory environment, talent development and developing strategic cluster strategies as highlighted in report, the Ontario government can play a significant role in the future of Hamilton”.

Among the survey’s findings are:

●    The Hamilton-Niagara Peninsula region is the most confident region in the province.
●    81 percent of businesses are confident in their own economic outlook, 7 percentage points above the provincial average.
●    72 percent of businesses in the region plan to expand in the next five years, a significant increase of 13 percentage points compared to the previous year.
●    47 percent of businesses in the region believe that Ontario’s economy is headed in the right direction, a slight drop from the previous year.
●    59 percent of the region’s businesses are confident in Ontario’s economy, 11 percentage points above the provincial average.

Read Emerging Stronger 2014:https://www.dropbox.com/s/ko8w93f5ba2r1z6/Emergingstronger14_Hamilton.pdf.

For more information:
Huzaifa Saeed
Policy & Research Analyst
905-220-3030
h.saeed@hamiltonchamber.ca

Life Science Cluster is a chance of a lifetime for Hamilton

From the Hamilton Spectator 

Hamilton has everything it needs to be a Canadian life sciences leader, except leadership.

A new study by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce seeks to plug that gap by forming a new group to ignite development in the sector. The full report can be found by following the link here.

The study shows the city once known for steel and heavy manufacturing now is vying for the title of Canada’s health care capital.

To get that title, the study calls for a new leader to focus on the sector. Entitled Building a Life Science Cluster, the report says Hamilton has a “once-in-a-generation” chance to develop a new source of economic and social wealth if it can get all the players already in that field working together.

Chamber president Keanin Loomis said developing such a cluster has been talked about for years in Hamilton, but now there’s a clear road map to get there.

“This report isn’t just fluff, platitudes and generalities,” he said. “It’s the culmination of almost three years of work. It took a long time but it was done right.”

Loomis added the mere fact of doing the study helped focus the attention of players on the need to work together, and that should pay dividends in the future.

The chamber report said Hamilton already has the tools needed to build that cluster — what it needs is a catalyst to get all the other elements working together.

“Hamilton needs to increase the amount of dedicated infrastructure designed to nurture the formation of this industry cluster, such as life sciences incubation space. We have insufficient venture capital flowing to the region, and there are too few programs working to promote and exploit Hamilton’s life sciences assets, or to create a culture of commercialization within the life sciences sector itself,” the report notes. “Arguably, we also lack significant business expertise required to commercialize and support business ventures. Most importantly, there is no driving force or chief advocate leading the charge for the establishment of a life sciences industry cluster in Hamilton.”

To overcome that lack the chamber calls for the formation of a cluster working group consisting of leaders from the public and private sectors to ignite the next phase of development.

The report grew out of recommendations from the 2012 Hamilton Economic Summit. It notes there are 300 Hamilton companies involved in some type of life sciences work supporting 20,000 direct and indirect jobs. Players include firms such as Titan Medical Inc. which has a research facility in Ancaster working on new robotic surgical technology; Face the World Cosmetics, specializing in camouflage therapy for people with severe skin conditions and Hamilton Medical Research Group which works on developing new drugs and getting them to market.

The latest Labour Force Survey numbers from Statistics Canada show 53,300 people employed in manufacturing in December, up 9.8 per cent from the previous January. The professional/scientific and health service categories provided 81,500 jobs, up 10.4 per cent from January 2013.

The chamber report concludes building a successful life sciences cluster requires five elements: a critical mass of knowledge and talent; an industrial base; infrastructure and funding; the support of players in the sector; and a driving force.

Hamilton is ranked excellent or good on the knowledge and support of players scales, fair on the state of its life sciences industrial base and fair-to-poor on infrastructure and the lack of a driving force for development.

Developing a life sciences cluster has been part of Hamilton’s economic development strategy since 2010. Norm Schleehahn, the department business development manager, said in an email exchange Hamilton’s base of knowledge and institutions make the goal an achievable one for the city.

“We have a strong knowledge infrastructure with internationally ranked life science research institutions … and significant investments in developing technologists to address the service side of health care delivery,” he wrote.

Mayor Bob Bratina called the report “a good overview” of an important issue for the city and said he hopes to be able to bring a recommendation to council soon to “address some of the issues in the report.”

Key players in such a cluster will be institutions such as Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), McMaster University and the McMaster Innovation Park (MIP).

Rob MacIsaac, new chief executive of HHS, praised the chamber for showing leadership on the issue and said the hospital network “will be at the table” when the strategy is set.

“I think it’s a no-brainer to anyone in Hamilton that we can achieve more by working together than we can alone,” he said. “This is a good first step in what we have to do.”

Zach Douglas, president of MIP, said his institution is already involved in the effort by creating a large incubator space. What’s more exciting, he added, is the sense all the players in the cluster accept the idea they have to work together.

“There’s clear evidence that some things are happening around here but more of it can be done,” he said. “Now we have to get everyone together to digest this report and see if there’s a way to move forward.”