Great Northern Way Campus' Comments on Digital Economy Strategy
Theme(s): Building Digital Skills, Growing the ICT Industry
Great Northern Way Campus is a Vancouver-based collaborative partnership between four highly regarded educational institutions: the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia Institute of Technology, and Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
GNWC's goals and future plans have synergies with a Canadian Digital Economy Strategy, specifically to create a digital media "community of innovation" and to build digital skills.
July 6, 2010
Hon. Tony Clement, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Industry
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H5
Hon. Diane Finley, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Human Resources and Skill Development
140 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, QC K1A 0J9
Hon. James Moore, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
15 Eddy Street
Gatineau, QC K1A 0M5
RE: Consultation Paper on a Digital Economy Strategy for Canada Improving Canada's Digital Advantage, Strategies for Sustainable Prosperity
Thank you for your ongoing commitment to promoting digital industries in Canada, and the digital media sector in particular. The Government's work to develop a Digital Economy Strategy in consultation with Canadians is a very positive step on the road to building a robust and future-oriented economy. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the consultation paper on a Digital Economy Strategy on behalf of Great Northern Way Campus (GNWC) in Vancouver, BC as we believe the concept envisioned for our collaborative partnership aligns with your vision for a strong digital economy and could contribute to the outcomes you are seeking.
By way of background, GNWC is a Vancouver-based collaborative partnership between four highly regarded educational institutions:
- The University of British Columbia;
- Simon Fraser University;
- British Columbia Institute of Technology; and
- Emily Carr University of Art + Design (the Partners).
GNWC's Relevance to a Canadian Digital Economy Strategy
- A site well suited for a digital media industry cluster - GNWC owns an undeveloped 18-acre parcel of land in a prime location on the edge of downtown Vancouver. It is adjacent to the False Creek Flats and the thriving Mt. Pleasant community and located in the path of existing and planned transit.
- The Masters of Digital Media Program (the MDM Program) - Successful collaboration between industry and academia has produced a unique graduate degree in digital media that is credentialed and supported by all four Partners. The MDM Program is strongly oriented towards industry needs, through industry projects, practicum placements, guest speakers and industry-based instructional faculty. Graduates of the program have been successful in finding industry positions and have demonstrated entrepreneurial success starting their own businesses, with several groups now leasing office space and operating digital media businesses on-site. The program has been operating since 2007 and welcomes its fourth cohort of students this Fall.
- The GRAND NCE - GNWC is home to GRAND, a Network of Centres of Excellence that focuses on delivering research, technology and commercialization in graphics, animation and new media.
GNWC'S four Partners and their recently appointed industry-based Board of Directors have adopted two business plans that are relevant to your consultation paper.
- A plan to develop the 18-acre site - We believe the GNWC site, in tandem with the programming available through our Partners, provides an outstanding opportunity to foster a 'community of innovation', as referenced in the consultation paper on page 21, encouraging collaboration between industry and academia to advance innovation and commercialization. This vision will be achieved through the development of a vibrant, livable and sustainable mixed-use community focused on the creative industries, with particular emphasis on digital media. Our concept is based on the following three-way fusion between academia, industry and community:
We think we have the right ingredients to create a strong digital media 'community of innovation' and would welcome an opportunity to share our research and thoughts on the conditions we have identified as necessary to foster such an environment.
- A plan to grow the MDM Program - Due to strong demand, MDM will increase its student body by 50% in January 2011 - putting strain on its current space. By 2012 the MDM Program is planned to move into a new Centre for Digital Media building (the CDM), the first building to be constructed on campus. Thanks in large part to $20 million in funding from the Province of BC, the CDM will anchor the digital media industry cluster in the community. This catalyst project will house new teaching facilities for the MDM Program and student residences. It will also permit the repositioning of an existing industrial building to accommodate industryaffiliated businesses and an acceleration centre for start-up businesses. After the enlarged 'core' MDM Program is successfully housed in its new space, we plan to begin implementation of related educational services (workshops, certificate programs, speaker series, etc.) specifically designed for accessibility to working professionals.
How GNWC Can Contribute to the Government's Initiative?
We believe GNWC's goals and future plans have synergies with a Canadian Digital Economy Strategy, specifically to create a digital media 'community of innovation' and to build digital skills.
- Creating Industry Clusters and Communities of Innovation - Your consultation paper notes the important role that private sector and educational entities can play in the establishment and development of digital media industry clusters.
The MDM Program and the GRAND Network of Centres of Excellence, in collaboration with the associated acceleration centre we are planning, will anchor our digital media cluster. This cluster will help foster strong Canadian companies, generate new business opportunities, develop entrepreneurial skills and showcase Canadian products and content. In addition, the cluster will facilitate improved collaboration between academia and industry and will advance commercialization efforts, thereby shortening the time it takes for ideas to move from the classroom and lab to the marketplace.
- Building Digital Skills for Tomorrow's Workforce - As Minister Finley states in her introductory remarks, a talented and well-trained workforce is critical to the ability of Canadian businesses to innovate and compete globally.
GNWC is well positioned, as home to the acclaimed MDM Program credentialed by four well-respected institutions and favourably located in the desirable city of Vancouver, to be internationally competitive in attracting and retaining talent. We believe GNWC can assist Vancouver and Canada in becoming a destination of choice for international students and professionals in digital media.
I would welcome an opportunity to meet with you and discuss how GNWC can assist the Government in fulfilling the objectives of the Canadian Digital Economy Strategy. If you have any questions about the above or about GNWC in general, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. I can be reached at (778)-370-1003 or by email at Matthew_Carter@gnwc.ca.
Great Northern Way Campus
Matthew G. Carter
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