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By Vanessa Caldwell
Toronto's tops in tech
Toronto is Canada’s high-tech hub

Toronto is known for lots of things. The longest street in the world. The tallest freestanding structure in the world (at least, such was our claim to fame until 2007). North America’s largest continuous underground pedestrian system.

Toronto is also gaining global steam as Canada’s leading high-tech hub: home to 30% of Canada’s ICT workforce and a thriving entrepreneurial environment where the number of ICT service firms has increased by 2,000 since 2002.

A recent report, Canada’s High-Tech Hub: Toronto, showcases highlights from Toronto’s high-tech scene, including an overview of the entire sector and details about our city’s research and innovation community, talent pool and investment environment.

The report also details Toronto’s emerging tech scene–including mentions of many MaRS clients.

Mobile device proliferation will drive mobile platforms and apps

By the end of 2010, 4.6 million smartphones made their way into the hands of Canadians. Businesses are looking at how these devices can be used to improve efficiency and accuracy across all fields, from health care workers to sales staff. The mobile scene has exploded in Toronto in recent years, growing to include events such as MobileMonday @ MaRS and Mobile Innovation Week.

MaRS clients in the mobile space:

Digital media will transform creative communication and interaction

Digital media is well positioned for healthy growth in Canada: 42% of Canadians share pictures online, 41% play games, 36% download music and movies and 35% access online newspapers. Businesses are going digital too–think paperless education, reviewing presentations on the fly and sales presentations with clients onsite.

MaRS digital media clients:

Social networking mania will demand attention and insight

Social networking is playing an increasingly important role in the ways people connect, from our personal lives to our interactions with organizations. According to a 2009 consumer survey, 74% of respondents participated in or posted to social networking or community sites. 50% of Canadian organizations use social networking for recruiting and 40% use it as an information source when making ICT purchase decisions.

Toronto is home to Facebook’s Canadian office and will soon be home to a LinkedIn outpost. With two of the biggest social networking sites setting up their Canadian offices in Toronto, opportunities for thought leadership, knowledge sharing and partnerships will undoubtedly arise.

MaRS social networking clients:

Canada’s High-Tech Hub: Toronto (download the PDF here) illustrates and confirms the City of Toronto’s motto: Diversity is our Strength. The breadth, depth and scale of the tech sector in Toronto is enormous and is poised for tremendous growth in the years to come. Where will you fit in?

Reposted from MaRS

Vanessa is a writer at MaRS. She writes all kinds of things, like posts for the MaRS blog, articles for Convergence (the MaRS magazine) and the weekly MaRS eNewsletters.

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By Knowlton Thomas

As Microsoft struggles for relevance in the fast-paced, highly competitive portable device market, chief exec Steve Ballmer promised a Microsoft slate tablet by the Christmas season. Does this mean it will be buyable? Not necessarily—just that we’ll “see” them.

The timing coincides with Research in Motion’s Blackberry PlayBook, a hardware-heavy 7-inch device, and also somewhat with the forthcoming Dell streak, available in a PlayBook size and a 10-inch iPad size. Speaking of the iPad, Christmas is also looking like a good time for Apple to unveil a second-gen iPad, which is starting to look woefully underwhelming as considerably more capable tablets prep for market launch.

Reposted from Techvibes Media

Knowlton Thomas is the Associate Editor of Techvibes Media. He is also the Web Editor of The Other Press, a weekly newspaper, and a regular columnist for them as well.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Knowlton Thomas

High fashion runway shows have always been exclusive, with their deliberately few tickets distributed carefully to fashion editors, celebrities, and affluent buyers.

But, like so many other things in life, technological advancements—and the internet, of course—have changed the playing field substantially for high fashion.

This season, things are looking up for the average joe who wants a taste of the opulent world of crocodile skin handbags and cashmere-lined trench coats: numerous high fashion labels are letting technology and the internet cast transparency on the iron-gate fences that once barred the non-elite from passing through.

Gucci, as a starting example, will be allowing anyone to sign up to view their Fall runway shows online. Betsey Johnson will be showing its shows live online, and even giving web watchers a view of the backstage frenzy that goes hand-in-hand with any runway. And Alexander Wang is getting creative—after it live streams its runway shows, it will project videos based on them across Manhattan billboards. Marc Jacobs is yet another label streaming live online. In fact, in just a couple of seasons, web streaming could be a standard feature for shows, not an exceptional bonus.

But it is perhaps the distinctly British brand, Burberry, that’s pushing the boundaries of runway innovation.

Burberry is using a similar technology to Armani Exchange’s, which uses Ottawa’s Overlay TV to allow people to click hotspots on a photograph of a fully outfitted model to see more info on specific items and buy them right off the digital mannequin. The Burberry twist involves inviting thousands of people to a variety of Burberry stores, where they will watch the runway show on huge, high-def televisions—and be able to order merchandise as it comes on-screen via an iPad app.

“Technology is the enabler,” Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer at Burberry, told the New York Times. “This gives them an opportunity to feel that energy and feel the attitude of what you’re working on. I find it incredibly liberating.”

And liberating it is, for both the company and the consumers. Burberry is active on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, engaging consumers and fans—but it still never offers sales or discounts, keeping its crown of luxury in tact. That’s the key balance for these luxury brands: opening up their world to the everyday public, without losing that essence of exclusivity that defines the strength of their brand.

Reposted from Techvibes Media

Knowlton Thomas is the Associate Editor of Techvibes Media. He is also the Web Editor of The Other Press, a weekly newspaper, and a regular columnist for them as well.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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