Winnipeg ICT sector in the spotlight at international forum - Global Forum / Shaping The Future 2017 takes place in downtown Winnipeg (Aaron Cohen)

Global Forum / Shaping The Future 2017 takes place in downtown Winnipeg (Aaron Cohen)

By: EDW NewsroomSeptember 25, 2017 //

With the Global Forum / Shaping The Future 2017 just around the corner, Winnipeg is preparing to show an international audience the strength of its Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector.

This year’s forum, dubbed Digitalization: Intelligent Pathways, takes place on October 2 and 3 at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Winnipeg, a stone’s throw from the city’s financial district at the iconic intersection of Portage and Main. The Paris-based think tank’s annual event brings together hundreds of policy makers and stakeholders from more than 30 countries to discuss “business and policy issues affecting the successful evolution of the Digital Society,” according to its website.

This is the first time in its 25 year history the Global Forum has been hosted in Canada. When the event was awarded to Winnipeg, it was a recognition within the industry that the city is becoming a leader in the new digital economy. We’ve grown a strong reputation as a centre for innovation and digital accessibility over the last number of years, twice ranked a ‘Top 7 Intelligent Community’ (2014, 2016) in the world by the Intelligent Community Forum and cultivating big named companies in the ICT sector like Farmers EdgeSkip The Dishes and Bold Commerce. The industry, which includes more than 1,800 ICT companies in Winnipeg that employ 18,000 workers, has been identified by the provincial government as one of Manitoba’s key economic sectors.

“We have over 200 registrants from the highest ranks of industry, governments and academia coming from all regions of the world,” says Dr. Sylvie Albert, Dean of the Faculty of Business & Economics at UWinnipeg and chair of the Canadian Organizing Committee.   “The programme is very exciting and will engage participants on many key challenges and opportunities in the digital economic revolution and whose evolution is proceeding at an incredible pace.”

The “digital economic revolution” Albert refers to includes things like machine learning technologies, the collection of data through the Internet of Things, and robotics - all industries that are growing at a massive rate. A conference like the Global Forum - bringing leaders together in one room - means there can be more discussion, and ultimately action, to ensure efficient implementation of these technologies, according to Albert.

The University of Winnipeg is co-organizing the event along with the City of Winnipeg and ITEMS International, a consulting firm in Paris dedicated to Information & Communication Technologies strategies. Economic Development Winnipeg’s Bring It Home program worked with Dr. Albert and her team to submit the proposal to bring the forum to Winnipeg.

“We appreciate the importance of ensuring that sufficient supports exist for local influencers interested in attracting premier events to our city,” said Dayna Spiring, President and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg after the conference was awarded to the city last December. “Collaborating  with UWinnipeg to convince the Global Forum that Winnipeg is an exceptional  setting for its 2017 digitalization conference is a step forward in the city’s efforts to raise its international ICT profile.”

“Our Canadian Steering Committee is very excited,” says Albert. “We can’t wait to meet all of the delegates and learn from their experience. This will be an incredible networking opportunity and a chance to talk about the ways that we engage with all of the topics at the Forum.”