overhead shot of people at conference

The 'digital city'

Blake Eligh

Innovation, synergies and leveraging the opportunities of the “digital city” were on the agenda at the Urban Leadership eXchange, a new certificate of completion course offered at the University of Toronto Mississauga on June 10 and 11, 2019. Hosted by the Institute for Management & Innovation (IMI), the two-day training and networking event drew executive leaders from across the province to learn how urban innovation can be leveraged for economic development.

The program is offered through IMIx, an IMI initiative that offers executive development training to those working in positions with a strategic focus. “The Urban Leadership eXchange brings together our regional partners from the private sector, municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities,” says Donna Heslin, director of graduate programs and external relations with IMI.The partnerships are happening on so many levels—we get to hear what they are doing, and we can share our expertise.”

UTM and U of T researchers led sessions on a range of urban leadership topics, including city management in a knowledge-based economy; policy and partnership in the digital city; and how Canadian city-regions are leveraging digital opportunities. The event also featured a keynote address by Rotman School of Management professor of business and creativity Richard Florida, and a fireside chat between Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie and Acting V-P & Principal Amrita Daniere, who discussed opportunities for continued engagement and partnership between UTM and the City of Mississauga.

Amrita Daniere and Bonnie Crombie
“Training, education and business development go hand in hand,” says Crombie, noting that the UTM campus creates an annual economic impact of about $1.5 billion annually for Mississauga, Peel and Ontario. “U of T Mississauga is a hub for innovation, and I am proud to have the university as a world-renowned institution in our city.”

Daniere lauds the strong ongoing relationships between the city, local businesses and the campus. “There’s a synergy between Mississauga’s labour needs and the incredible programs offered at UTM,” she says. “There are many ways the university provides the infrastructure for economic development, but we also provide training and research facilities, as well. IMI has created professional programs to answer the call for this expertise, including professional graduate programs such as the Master of Management and Innovation and the Master of Biotechnology, which speak directly to people working in Mississauga’s biotechnology and life sciences sectors.”

Daniere also noted the development of the IMix training programs and IMI’s newest professional graduate program—the Master of Urban Innovation—which recently received provincial approval to welcome its first cohort of students in September 2020. “It’s about attracting, training and retaining talent,” Crombie adds.

Town of Newmarket development and infrastructure commissioner Peter Noehammer was among the participants. “I really think that bringing innovation, whether a change in process or using technology to our advantage is something we can learn more about, share and collaborate with others,” he says.

The Urban Leadership eXchange is hosted U of T’s School of Cities, IMI Executive Programs, the Institute for Management and Innovation and Master of Urban Innovation program. Learn more at http://uoft.me/ULX.