UK Minister and i-CANADA Move to Improve Smart Cities Trade as Canadian Feds Increase Broadband Budget
February 10, 2014

Organizations in Canada and the United Kingdom will explore ways of working together to capture as large a portion as possible of the $1-trillion market for Intelligent Community services world-wide, said Bill Hutchison, Chairman of i-CANADA and member, CATA National Leadership Council.

Members of the i-CANADA Governors Council and other Canadian leaders met today with The Honourable David Willetts, U.K. Minister of State for Universities and Science, at the British High Commission office in Ottawa.  It was Minister Willett’s first trip to Canada.  Also at the meeting by video link from the UK was Scott Steedman, Director of Standards, British Standards Institute.

The meeting followed an i-CANADA Governors Council session on January 30th with the architect of the U.K.’s Smart Cities program, Allan Mayo.  At that meeting, President of the Treasury Board Tony Clement agreed to be the “bridge Minister”, forming a horizontal link with his colleagues in the Cabinet.  Yesterday, the federal government announced its intention to provide funds for additional infrastructure investment to improve broadband access in underserved areas.

“We are very pleased that the federal government is taking the creation of Intelligent Communities so seriously,” said Mr. Hutchison.  “Canadian cities dominate the list for the global 2014 Intelligent Community of the Year with three of the TOP 7 finalists. .  This is the most important economic and social transformation in history, and our government is working to take advantage of it.”

Minister Willetts has stated that the goal is to make the UK the world leader in Smart Cities:  “We are well placed to win a $40 billion share of the global market place by 2020, so we must make sure we do not miss this opportunity. Our new U.K. Smart Cities Forum will bring the best minds together on a regular basis to establish a clear plan to exploit the exciting technologies that we have at our disposal.”  Minister Willetts cited Capgemini and IBM as clear examples of companies that had complementary strengths in the two countries.

i-CANADA and Minister Willetts are exploring partnerships in these areas: Standards, and their strategic use as a way to accelerate change and scale it across many communities; Trade, with a strategic fit between Canadian strengths and the U.K.’s innovation and business objectives, including global market areas where joint strengths will lead to sales, while also providing avenues for bilateral development; Tripartite trade with countries in Asia such as China and Kazakhstan, which are striving to obtain the Smart City advantage; and Community engagement models, using new technologies such as smart metering, energy management and intelligent transport systems and social investment programs;

A Working Group is being struck that will help U.K. leaders identify the key stakeholders on both sides to move the joint agenda forward.  Background papers will be shared to generate understanding.

Minister Willetts was a key player in the formation of the U.K.’s Smart Cities Forum.  It met for the first time last month, to develop plans to support the creation of smarter cities in the UK.  The Forum is being co-chaired by Minister David Willetts and Cities Minister Greg Clark; the combined approach unites the perspectives of innovation with the economy.

The Forum is a key part of the UK’s Information Economy Strategy. Published last year (2013) the strategy involves government and industry working together to support a digital sector that employs around 1.5 million people in the UK.  Government is already investing in the development of new technologies to support this sector. £50 million is being invested by the Technology Strategy Board in a Future Cities Catapult in London that will support businesses looking to commercialise their products and get them into the market place.   It is also investing £24 million to create a future cities demonstrator in Glasgow to show how new integrated services across health, transport, energy and public safety can improve the local economy and increase the quality of life. It will also allow UK businesses to test new solutions that can be exported around the globe.

More information about Minister Willetts can be found at:

Members of the Canadian delegation included leaders from national, regional organizations and municipal organizations, plus private and public sector VIPS:  Barry Gander, EVP, CATA; Bill Hutchison, Chair, i-CANADA; Chad Gaffield, President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC);  Darin Graham, President and CEO, ORION; Jeff McNamee, Senior VP, i-CANADA; Howard Alper, Chair of the federal Science, Technology & Innovation Council; Karen Pero, Senior Business Development Manager,  Invest Ottawa; and Michael Turner, VP Strategic Systems, Wesley Clover.

For further information or inquiries about joining the Canada-U.K. Working Group on Intelligent Communities, please contact:

Jeff McNamee, Senior VP, Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships, i-CANADA