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Winnipeg’s Inspiring Innovation & Technology Scene

June 9, 2022

Post Contributed By: Laurel Rose, Continuing Care Operations Leader at WRHA Continuing Care
Leadership Winnipeg Class of 2020-2022

Leadership Winnipeg sessions never fail to highlight the incredible things happening in our city and this session uncovered a few hidden gems for me.  Our most recent session focused on work happening around innovation and technology in Winnipeg.

We started our day on the iconic Esplanade Riel footbridge meeting the city’s newest tenant of the property, Manitoba Technology Accelerator.  The view from MTAs new space has the potential to be very distracting, but CEO Marshall Ring had no difficulty holding our attention as he described the innovation and vision which make MTA so successful.  As a lifelong healthcare worker, I’m not ashamed to admit I’d never heard of a technology accelerator before this session.  I came to understand that MTA is a flexible community of services and experts that surrounds the person with a great idea to support their journey from flash of disruptive technology brilliance to international success.  Marshall described the work MTA is doing in the areas of commercialization of made-in-Manitoba innovations, attracting new international start-ups through their Start-Up Visa program, and investment in disruptive technology.  While I may not have heard of technology accelerators, I certainly had heard of two of the businesses MTA has had a hand in launching to tremendous success.  We had the privilege of hearing from Carson Keck of FasTab and Greg of Callia Flowers.  They shared the origin stories of both of these businesses with us, and gave us some entertaining insights into their journeys from idea to opportunity.

After a fantastic lunch at Brazen Hall, we were off to be further inspired at North Forge Technology Exchange.  CEO Joelle Foster and Vice President Marney Stapley walked us through the nuts and bolts of their not-for-profit incubator accelerator.  Their Founders Program helps innovators and inventors harness their inspiration into action.  Collaboration with other creators through access to shared space is a key ingredient, as is access to mentors for the innovators.  In addition, they operate the North Forge FabLab, the largest publicly accessible fabrication lab in North America.  We closed out the day hearing from Justin Phillips of Carbon Block and Rob Ranson of Win Shield Medical Devices.  Both of these innovators spoke about their work and the powerful effect that North Forge has had in connecting people to each other to create greatness, collectively.

This day left me with a lot to think about.  One of the greatest opportunities a leadership position affords us is the opportunity to mentor others on their journey.  For me, this is perhaps the most meaningful work of being a leader.  I was also fascinated to hear many of our presenters highlight how the COVID-19 pandemic had been both a challenge and an opportunity for their businesses.  Their spirit of innovation and growth allowed them to take what could have been a barrier and turn it into a springboard.  I went away newly committed to exploring how our leadership teams within healthcare can surround the great ideas and new perspectives we hear to encourage growth and change.