The last decade began during an international financial crisis and ended during an international climate crisis. In between, there was #MeToo, Donald Trump, the rise of smart phones and some really great memes.
As we leave behind the decade of the 2010s and head into the roaring 2020s, we wanted to know what would matter most 10 years from now, as the 2030s began.
So we asked a few of Atlantic Canada’s most interesting people what they thought.
Chère Chapman: Strengthening global connections
“The big thing in 2030 will be global interconnectedness amidst an ever-shrinking world. I spent over two decades in Tokyo, London, Ho Chi Minh City, and Singapore, and saw firsthand that globalization can spell increased competition. This can be tough for a place like Atlantic Canada, especially when the region already faces a host of structural economic challenges. But, from my new vantage point in Halifax, I see it very differently: as an extraordinary opportunity.
Our company, DGI Clinical, may be based in Halifax but we don’t have a single Canadian client. Our customers and prospects are in the US, Europe, and Asia. Our staff includes highly qualified immigrants to Canada who bring fresh and unique perspectives. Some of our consultants are in the U.K. and the U.S. and that’s an advantage.
DGI isn’t unique; there are many businesses based in Atlantic Canada thriving in the global marketplace and there’s room for plenty more! Global interconnectedness is already a reality today. By 2030, the world will be knit together even more tightly. We resist or ignore it at our peril, and we can thrive well beyond 2030 by embracing it.”
Chère Chapman is the CEO of DGI Clinical Inc. She’s a past board member for the University of King’s College and Touch Sala Bai in Singapore, a charity fighting human trafficking in Cambodia. She’s now chair of the board at the Organization for Nova Scotia Innovation Driven Entrepreneurship (ONSIDE).
Glen Hougan: Listen to the youngsters
“What will matter most in 2030 will be what is mattering the most today for my 15-year-old daughter, and that’s the environmental crises and how we respond to it. The current global response from these young women who are exhibiting energy, passion and unflinching focus on solving a problem is a harbinger and example of where all of our creative energies will be directed towards in 2030.”
Glen Hougan is an industrial designer and an associate professor at NSCAD University with a background in human factors, user experience and design thinking. His research and work in the area of design for health and ageing has been covered in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the PBS series Life Part 2, CBC’s radio program Spark.
Sylvia D. Hamilton: Listen to Indigenous elders
“The question may be better stated as this: in 2030, what would you want to be top of mind? I have a few ideas. First, the imperative to listen to the wisdom of the Indigenous Elders in the Region; the rights of Indigenous People exist. Period. This is not up for debate.
My agenda also includes the ability and capacity of people to create and live healthy, happy, rewarding lives. This requires meaningful work and health care systems that pay as much attention to prevention as to treatments. Next, I would want to see the creation of a people-centred social system that ensures no child or family lives in poverty, and therefore poor health–make that an experience of the past. And I see a need for dynamic education systems that equip students to develop their full independent selves and that instills in them critical thinking skills.
An engaged, multi-level public conversation about the role/place of arts and culture in our lives and to the health of any society is a necessity in any discussion about what the future holds.”
Sylvia D. Hamilton is a filmmaker and writer in Nova Scotia. She’s an assistant professor of journalism at the University of King’s College, where she holds the Roger’s Chair in Communications.
Jeff Larsen: Collaboration is key
“In the next decade, innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration will be the keys to success for Atlantic Canada.
With declining demographics, innovation is the key to driving productivity and ultimately the economic growth needed to improve our living standards and tax base. And innovation-driven entrepreneurs and ventures are the biggest net new job creators.
From 2010-19 we saw a dramatic change in Atlantic Canada’s innovation ecosystem. IBM’s acquisition of Q1 Labs and Salesforce’s acquisition of Radian 6 were for just under $1 billion in New Brunswick. This year, the largest venture financing in Canadian history was Newfoundland’s Verafin for $515 million. Halifax was ranked as 36th in venture financing deals per capita in New York University’s 2018 report Rise of the Global Startup City. Creative Destruction Lab Atlantic has helped catalyze more than $150 million in equity value for new startups over the past two years.
We have the potential to hit an inflection point and grow our startup community in Atlantic Canada through collaboration. Sir Lawrence Freedman, the British strategy guru and professor, explains that relying on cleverness to compete against larger opponents with more resources–like in the story of David and Goliath–is not as effective as collaborating and forming coalitions with others.
We are starting to see the beginning of collaboration in the region through the Ocean Supercluster, Creative Destruction Lab Atlantic, partnerships amongst incubators such as Volta in Halifax, Venn in Moncton, Genesis in St. John’s and Startup Zone in Charlottetown. Now is the time to build on this momentum. Atlantic Canada needs to collaborate in order to have the scale necessarily to compete and win in an innovation-driven economy.”
Jeff Larsen is the Executive Director of Creative Destruction Atlantic in Halifax. He’s a lawyer with a wealth of entrepreneurial and management experience in both the public and private sector.