Look around New Brunswick’s capital city and you might think its stately Victorian homes are all that recommends it to the 60,000 people who live here. But behind the façade beats the heart of one of the liveliest, knowledge-savvy communities in Canada.
“The most relevant thing to know about Fredericton is that there has been a very concerted effort over the past 30 years to grow a knowledge-based economy here, and from here for all of New Brunswick,” says Larry Shaw, CEO of Ignite Fredericton and Knowledge Park. “The degree of interconnectedness between private, government, and academia deliberately fosters growth and collaboration. That’s the force multiplier.”
With seven institutes of higher learning and research located within walks of each other, it’s hard to dispute the claim. Altogether, they produce more than 2,800 university graduates a year, taught by some of North America’s most recognized Research Chairs in engineering, science and technology.
The results are compelling.
Here, where the mighty St. John’s River takes it time, businesses and industries rush to create, invent, adapt, incubate and export technological goods and services. Here, one of Canada’s most educated and driven labour forces has produced more $1 billion in start-up exits in the past decade.
Here is a digitally-advanced city that’s been recognized twice as “One of the World’s Top 7 Intelligent Communities” and a major learning hub for New Brunswick that’s home to 70 per cent of the province’s knowledge-based industries.
Here, also, is proof that all of this is geared to continue. Cutting-edge developments in new, competitive sectors – biotechnology, cybersecurity, Big Data, GPS Signalling and avionics – and in established, growing ones – forestry, agriculture, and oil & gas – emerge like clockwork in a city that hardly ever sleeps.
“By fostering these kinds of R&D-private enterprise partnerships and the innovations they produce, we’re future-proofing industry for the entire region,” Shaw says. •