Toronto, Canada, is a socio-cultural and economic melting pot, full of potential and activity.
The finance industry in Toronto is the largest and strongest sector, bringing an uncommon stability to the region. Toronto has been growing in popularity as a financial services destination, but there are other, emerging sectors within the greater Toronto economic activity.
Growing sectors include Toronto startups (as a direct result of growth in the financial services sector), as well as hybrid sectors such as med-tech, green-tech and food-tech. These are new and exciting directions which will strengthen and further improve economic opportunities in Toronto, and filter outwards across Ontario.
Tech startups are small, independently-owned software businesses that develop innovative products on a small injection of capital from an outside investor, on the understanding that the business will succeed and grow popular quickly. These projects can thrive or die, but they are always high-pressure environments, driven by a handful of developers with a great idea and gallons of coffee.
These tiny kernels of diversity are cornerstones of the tech industry, providing the independent and creative solutions that fuel innovation. Software developers and other IT professionals have increasingly recognised the repressive and stagnatory influence of multinational conglomerate ownership within the industry. There is also a growing distrust of the large tech corporations due to public concerns over breach of privacy, ownership of personal data, and the use thereof. Independent startups, especially those who support open-source technology and user privacy, are more important now than ever before, in keeping the lifeblood of the sector fresh and circulating, and producing outside-the-box concepts.
Med-Tech is the industry sector which combines medical solutions with technology. This normally refers to machines or instruments used in patient care, detecting, treating and rehabilitating health conditions with minimally invasive procedures which last the shortest amount of time. At the current rate of medical and technological progress, the industry is now using nanotechnology and electronic implants in patient care, and combining biological science with computer science to find new ways to detect and observe diseases.
According to the Invest Ontario website, the research and development component in Ontario research hospitals is worth more than $1.6bn. Numerous programs developing and testing innovative health solutions through technology are operational within Ontario. This type of technology includes various approaches, such as AI, quantum technology and block chain. The proactive approach of the Ontario Health Innovation Council (OHIC) enables a network of stakeholders within the med-tech sector to form partnerships and collaborations. These stakeholders range from healthcare experts and academics to non-profit organizations and businesses.
Green technology has been growing quietly since the 80s, and the realization that people were destroying the ozone layer. The first green-tech developments of that era were chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-free refrigerators and aerosol sprays. Through the decades, green-tech has grown and broadened in its approach to preserving and conserving natural resources. Air monitoring systems detect pollutants, catalytic converters reduce carbon emissions, recycling initiatives for different categories of materials are everywhere, and more awareness has been drawn to sustainable farming practices.
Most importantly, in the last ten years, two factors have emerged as the fastest developments in this sector: youth-driven initiatives to generate fundraising, education and collaboration, and; the move away from fossil fuels. Electric cars are becoming more popular and the race is on to develop a low-cost electric vehicle for mass consumption, which could pivot the global economy on its axis.
As stakeholders in the sustainable future of the planet, more and more companies in Ontario are turning their focus onto developing more environmentally-friendly solutions to offer alongside traditional products. Examples of this kind of approach might be a plastics manufacturer developing a flow tank from recycled plastic, as an alternative option to “normal” flow bins made from new plastic.
Food-tech is the innovation of how people produce, process, transport and consume food. The principle of food-tech can be found in obvious places like rooftop gardens in cities, or less obvious places like farming larvae to produce a protein substitute. Other ways to see food-tech is the development of lab-grown meat, genetically-modified organism (GMO) high-yield crops like maize and soya, and the use of improved technologies like radiation to store and transport food for longer periods of time.
Canadian organizations such as Foodtech Canada aim their innovations towards improving processes within the commercial food and bio-products industries. Access to networks of stakeholders in this sector has enabled it to grow quite quickly, and offer a range of resources to members to help grow their businesses.
These four fascinating sectors sit on the cutting edge of Canada’s and the world’s future. Businesses in each of these hybrid sectors have the potential to lead humanity into a healthier, more harmonious relationship with the planet and each other. Toronto leads the way in its support and nurturing of startups, med-tech, green-tech and food-tech, ensuring greater possibilities for a sustainable future.