Cross-border relationship-building is an important part of creating a strong tech ecosystem for both Canada and the United States, says U.S. Consul General Susan Crystal.
“There are companies here that have expanded in the U.S., and companies in the U.S. that have come and invested here,” Crystal said during a visit to Communitech this week. “The connections that are made back and forth – and definitely having an organization like Communitech with a lot of people interested in the tech industry – all contribute to fostering a strong tech ecosystem.”
Crystal, who is based in the U.S. Consulate in Toronto, was in Kitchener-Waterloo to tour the University of Waterloo campus and the Communitech Hub.
During her visit to Communitech, Crystal learned about the organization’s mission to help tech founders start, grow and succeed. She also met a number of partners and tenants, including members of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s innovation lab who invited the Consul General to take the controls of an F-35 flight simulator and blast off into the virtual sky.
In a roundtable discussion later, Communitech team members told Crystal about the organization’s founder support services, such as Fierce Founders, Good AI and the Canada-Ukraine Security Innovation Challenge (CUSIC).
“I've been aware for quite some time of the impressive initiatives taking place here at Communitech,” Crystal said. “The Waterloo Region has also gained recognition for its significant contributions in the technology sector and its efforts to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and Canada. We wanted to know more, and here we are.”
Communitech’s Fierce Founders program is designed to help women and non-binary founders start and grow tech companies.
The Good AI coalition aims to harness AI's potential to positively impact the global economy, society and the environment.
“Good AI is all about helping Canadian founders integrate ethical AI principles into their products at the outset of the product life cycle, thereby fostering stronger and more trusted relationships with their partners and customers,” Kevin Tuer, Communitech’s Chief Technology Officer, said. “In doing so, we believe this will provide our founders with a competitive advantage both domestically and internationally.”
CUSIC is collaboration between Ukrainian Startup Fund, Ontario Centre of Innovation and Communitecht that aims to bolster technological expertise through a bilateral competition where Canadian and Ukrainian tech companies propose innovative solutions for national-security challenges.
Crystal said she was impressed by her visit to UW and Communitech.
“When I arrived in Toronto three years ago, I was familiar with Silicon Valley in the US, but repeatedly hearing about the Waterloo Region being referred to as the Silicon Valley of Canada left me intrigued,” she said. “So, I came here to learn more and it was truly amazing."