OPINION: Ingenuity vital to success of cities

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Cities around the world are experiencing a transformation from the industrial and manufacturing era that was predominant, to the creation of an ingenious class that will and has been the new economic driver.

 Raw materials such as coal, iron or oil are no longer the sole resources and tools for economic success. What matters today is the ingenious class and its human creativity and knowledge that spurs innovation, new products and entrepreneurial enterprises that are cutting-edge.

 There are two kinds of people within the ingenious class. The first consists of people who think in ingenious terms – research, artists, designers, writers and people who have fresh ideas. The second consists of people who solve problems ingeniously – in fields like, technology, financial services, business management and health care.

 What drives economic growth in cities today is the presence, retention and attraction of the ingenious class.

 There are four Ts that can make a difference and make a city successful; exactly the recipe to attract the ingenious class.

 The first is talent – the ingenious class want to be in a place with other talented and creative people that are skilled so they can work with them and bounce around ideas to develop new projects. Knowledge spillovers are important.

 Technology is another essential T. A city needs to have core technology in place in order to allow ingenious workers to function effectively. It is the infrastructure necessary to fuel an entrepreneurial culture.

 The third T is tolerance which critically affects the ability for residents to mobilize their own creative capacities and accept the diversity of cultures, new ideas and perspectives.

 Finally, the last T is team work or collaboration. A city will not move forward or progress if it does not break down silos. The only way for a city to be sustainable, economically strong and a world class is for all its institutions, organizations and key stakeholders to work together strategically.

 London has had a rich history and many success stories of ingenious individuals who have changed the world and we must continue to create the environment for others to continue our legacy. For example London’s Sir Frederick Banting rose from his sleep in 1920 and wrote down the 25 words that would lead to his discovery of insulin.

 Alan Davenport’s discovery in London has led to the modern practice of wind engineering around the world.  In fact, Western opened the first-of-its-kind Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory in 1965, defining the field of wind engineering and testing such structures as the World Trade Center, CN Tower, Confederation Bridge, and tallest man-made structure in the world, Burj Dubai.

 Currently, Chil-Yong Kang has developed the world’s first and only preventative HIV vaccine, which is currently in Phase II of Human Clinical Trials.

Everything from Asprin, to the first human brain MRI, and the world’s first successful combined liver and bowel transplant, in 1988 were discovered and invented in London.

We also have promising technology, insurance, financial services and world-class companies that were founded in London.

The Canadian division of 3M is located in London. Companies such as Trojan Technologies, EK3, Startech and many others were found in London.

The London Life Insurance Company was founded here, as was Imperial Oil (in 1880) and both the Labatt and Carling breweries.

The Libro Financial Group was founded in 1951 in London and is the second largest credit union in Ontario and employs over 550 people. Canada Trust was also founded in London in 1864.

As Jane Jacobs said, clusters of entrepreneurs, creative, innovative and ambitious people increase the city’s productivity and spur economic growth.

Let’s continue to make it happen in London and let’s believe in the potential that lies within this great city.

Amir Farahi
Amir Farahi

Amir Farahi is the Co-Founder & Executive Director of the London Institute. He is an entrepreneur, columnist, public speaker, and is currently specializing in Economics and Political Science at Western University.

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