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It’s not too late: Canada, not Sidewalk Labs, should be driving urban innovation

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Three levels of government have already committed $1.25 billion in flood protection infrastructure to enable the development of Toronto's Port Lands.Photo Illustration by Becky Guthrie/National Post

Canada has a rich history of innovation, but in the next few decades, powerful technological forces will transform the global economy. Large multinational companies have jumped out to a headstart in the race to succeed, and Canada runs the risk of falling behind. At stake is nothing less than our prosperity and economic well-being. The Financial Post set out explore what is needed for businesses to flourish and grow. You can find all of our coverage here.


Canada may aspire to be an “innovation nation.” In fact, we don’t have a choice. If we want to share in the industries of the future, and afford an aging society, we must seize opportunities wherever they may arise to accumulate domestic expertise, commercialize our own skills and technologies and scale up local companies.

Our own urban growth is one critical opportunity. Worldwide, more than a billion people will move into cities in the next 10 to 15 years. Their arrival in already crowded metropolises will present huge challenges, from housing and transportation to water and sanitation. As the McKinsey Global Institute argued in a recent report, “making great cities is the critical infrastructure challenge of this century.” But the global shift to cities will also create new markets, “and not only for technology firms.”

While much urban growth will be in China, India, Indonesia, Brazil and other emerging economies, Canada has the potential to become a global centre for smart city development.

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