Connecting Local Innovators to Community NeedsTBOP2017 ⋅ 5:18 ⋅ Filmed May 11, 2017
As home of the inaugural Breakout Project, Kingston Ontario is also home to the prestigious Queen’s University. With some of the best minds in the country and some of the brightest up-and-comers walking Kingston’s streets, Mayor Bryan Paterson discusses some of the cutting edge projects and programs that are bringing these innovators and changemakers together. When citizens come together to solve the problems and face the challenges of their communities, big things happen.
So the city sets the example but there's something else that needs to happen in a community so that's the next theme. You need to be able to find a way to connect local innovators with needs in your community. [00:17] We're very fortunate here in Kingston because we have three amazing post-secondary institutions — Queen's University, St. Lawrence College and Royal Military College. We've got a lot of amazing smart young people that are right here in our community and they're learning about the latest techniques and technologies and information. What we want to able to do is connect them to some of the existing needs that we have in our city, really that any city would have.
[00:46] So here's an example, I'll start here on the left. We have non-profit organizations in our city. These are non-profits that do great work in our community each and every day but if you've ever been a part of a non-profit you know that there are often challenges on a daily basis. Maybe it's trying to ramp up your fundraising, increase your footprint in the community, trying to be more efficient in your operations, trying to market and raise awareness of what it is that you do — there are these challenges that we know our non-profits face. On the other side, we have these PhD students in our post-secondary institutions that are doing all this great work. We have something that's being rolled out in Kingston. Something called the PhD-Community Initiative to be able to link the two together. It's great for the PhD student because then you get applied experience that is great obviously for your research and your career development. It also helps the non-profit to be able to become that much more efficient and effective in the community.
[01:45] Something else. Another need that we know that is very relevant in our city and many other communities is how do we encourage more women to embrace the power of entrepreneurship. How do we find a way to be able to get young women the confidence, the resources, the mentorship, the knowledge that they need to be able to take their creative ideas and skills that they have and be able to implement them, startup new businesses and be able to make incredible impacts socially and beyond communities?
[02:17] One of things, if that's the need, one of the things that we've seen really bubble up from a grassroots level, is a young female entrepreneur who's basically has a vision for this and she started a program called, FEiST. Female Entrepreneurs in Small Towns. It's all about networking, mentorship and bringing women together to be able to share and to mentor each other. Providing resources and knowledge, finances — all of those things that you need to be success as an entrepreneur to be able to encourage more entrepreneurship.
[02:49] Here's another need. What do you do when you have people in your community that are faced with social isolation? What do we do to help, for example, people in our community that grappling with mental health issues? Or those in our community that are faced with challenges connected to chronic and complex conditions that require long-term care. We have a hospital here on our waterfront in Kingston, it's called Providence Care. It was an old hospital that was there for many years and it was really interesting because the hospital on the waterfront and right next to it was one of the most popular community parks that we have in the City of Kingston, called Lake Ontario Park. Right in between them was this giant chain link fence. It basically spoke about a separation. There were those in the community facing these difficult challenges, they were on one side of the fence. Then you had all of the young families and everybody else that was coming out to enjoy the park, they were on the other side of the fence.
[03:55] This is a good example of how innovation is a lot more than just technology. Sometimes innovation is just in terms of planning and how you can invest in people. When we were at the point where we want to build a new hospital, one of the things we did in the early phases, what Providence Care did was that they brought in some innovators in the design [world] and said, 'how can we improve the quality of life for our patients and residents that are in this hospital?' They keyed in on something. When they built the new hospital, not only are they going to take the chain link fence down, but they actually designed it in such a way so that the hospital has it's cafeteria that kind of opened up right next to the community park. So all the young families and people that are coming down just to enjoy day down at Lake Ontario Park, they can actually come in and they're invited to this terrace where they can come and grab a bite to eat, they can mingle with the patients and the residents that are there. The patients and the residents can come out, they can walk into the terrace, they can enjoy the park. Where you go from social isolation, now you have integration of the community that improves the quality of life for everyone.
[05:05] That what happens when you can connect local innovators with community needs.