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Waterloo Quality

Look who’s talking: Canada 3.0

Tony Clement, Canada's industry minister, unveils a digital strategy for Canada at Canada 3.0, 2010. Photo: Jodi Szimanski

“We’re not trying to boil the ocean with Canada 3.0. Our model is about putting together people and starting conversations and collaborations.”

A luxury cruise liner. That’s how Kevin Tuer, the managing director of the Canadian Digital Media Network, describes Canada’s struggling digital media scene.

“We have capability. We’ve got food, water, and entertainment. We’ve got all the pieces. We just need a captain to plot the course and steer the ship,” he says from his Kitchener office.

Coming up with a course of action is one reason why more than 2,000 people from government, businesses, and universities signed up to attend Canada 3.0 last May. The annual forum will likely draw the who’s who of high-tech leaders again to the next conference, May 2-4, 2011.

Developed by the University of Waterloo – Stratford Campus and the Canadian Digital Media Network, the original forum was an idea born in the brain of Ken Coates, Waterloo dean of arts, who was also a key figure in the establishment of the Waterloo – Stratford Campus.

Yet 2010’s offering will have an effect for years to come. The first day’s keynote speaker, Tony Clement, minister of industry, used his time at the podium to unveil the beginnings of a digital economy strategy for Canada. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Worldwide, the digital media sector is expected to grow to $2.2 trillion US over the next five years. If Canada doesn’t jump on digital opportunities now, the worry is this country would be left behind entirely.

Tuer says the conversations started at Canada 3.0 that day are now lighting the fire under the industry to innovate. From smart phone applications to GPS systems and attending classes online, the digital economy already infiltrates everything Canadians do each day.

“We’re not trying to boil the ocean with Canada 3.0. Our model is about putting together people and starting conversations and collaborations,” he says. “We’ll slay this dragon one knife at a time.”

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