BRILLIANT! Winnipeg considered one of world’s prime 10 clever communities

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James Snell Dayna Spiring, president and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg Dayna Spiring, president and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg Photo by GLEN DAWKINS /Winnipeg Sun

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For the fourth time in a decade, Winnipeg has been recognized as one of the most intelligent communities in the world.

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The Intelligent Community Forum’s (ICF) list of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities includes cities in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Russia and Vietnam, Economic Development Winnipeg (EDW) said in a recent press release. The recognition follows Winnipeg’s February 2021 selection as a Smart21 Community of Year, which reduced a competitive field of submissions down to the 21 most compelling cities in the world.

“We are pleased to see the ICF recognize Winnipeg with this designation for the fourth time,” Dayna Spiring, president and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg said in a press release on Friday. “It confirms Winnipeg is a collaborative, tech-savvy city and shows the world is taking notice of the fact that Winnipeg is one of the most forward-thinking places to live, work and invest. We know the global landscape is increasingly competitive when it comes to attracting new companies and a skilled workforce to any city.”

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This is Winnipeg’s ninth commendation from the ICF as a Smart21 Community since 2011. In 2018, 2016 and 2014, ICF selected Winnipeg as a Top 7 Intelligent Community, recognizing the city’s worldwide leadership in technological development, effective data usage, digital innovation and advocacy, while demonstrating a commitment to using data to improve the lives of residents.

Some of the characteristics that helped propel Winnipeg into the top 7 include an economic foundation that connects industry, education and a growing technology sector. Partnerships with post-secondary institutions and major employers, EDW explained, created fabrication and digital equipment workshops to generate new products, companies and jobs. Also, innovation centres carrying out joint research and development initiatives for employers are helping to reduce costs while driving new applications.

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Coun. Scott Gillingham (St. James), chairman of the City’s Finance Committee, told the Sun there is a progressive, innovative business culture in Winnipeg that often flies under the radar, but is demonstrated in the collaboration between post-secondary institutions, business and tech companies.

“Governments’ role is to create the environment where businesses can succeed,” he said. “When we have innovative, tech-savvy businesses that show great potential and have great opportunity, it’s governments’ responsibility to assist them in succeeding. And by doing so, it attracts to Winnipeg other investors that want to be part of that success.”

Gillingham said reducing red tape to help businesses is an ongoing effort at the City and that some progress is being made.

“Our director of Planning, Property and Development and his team are very active,” he said. “They work with industry. There’s a working group they regularly meet with that has industry and business representatives.”

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