Technology innovations fueling the mass digitization of countries, cities and companies are reignited today with the highly anticipated opening of Cisco Innovation Centre Toronto – the first in North America and ninth worldwide.

Yes, the opening created a Big Bang in our expanding universe of Innovation Centers made possible by the Internet of Things (IoT). Toronto – North America’s fourth largest city – is the perfect catalyst for innovation.

Why? There are multiple calculations, proof points and experiences that help determine the right hubs for incubating, co-creating and prototyping innovations that can be applied locally and scaled globally. All the complex ingredients seem to converge quite neatly in Toronto.


Smart City Leader
First, Toronto has already distinguished itself as one of the world’s leading Smart Cities, especially with the revitalized Toronto Waterfront – named the “Most Intelligent Community of the Year” in 2014 by Intelligent Communities Forum. Transformation into the Smart Toronto Waterfront began years ago with community-wide deployment of the most advanced ICT infrastructure throughout the 2,000-acre development project. This open platform now serves as the backbone for high-speed, secure wi-fi, delivering rich applications ubiquitously that interconnect neighborhoods in both public spaces and private residences.

Second, the Smart Toronto Waterfront and now the Innovation Centre Toronto, are reinforced by enlightened government leaders at all levels who understand the power of partnerships and technology.   They realize the impact that the digital revolution has have on creating jobs, service inefficiencies and cost reductions, not to mention increasing GDP.

Enlightened Government
Today’s grand opening, partners, customers, academics and media were joined by Toronto Mayor John Tory and other key officials and dignitaries. They shared ceremonial remarks with Cisco’s Joe Cozzolino, SVP, Services, and Alison Gleeson, SVP, Americas Sales – all underscoring the importance of the digital economy and of hyper collaboration to advance solutions.

None of this would be possible without the leadership and foresight of Cisco’s Bernadette Wightman, president, Cisco Canada. Her team, together with Rick Huijbregts, managing director, Americas, Digital Transformation and Solution Acceleration, who were pivotal in bringing the Centre to life.

Cisco estimates that Internet of Everything (IoE) – the connection of people, process, data and things – opportunities will be worth US$400 billion to the Canadian private sector during the next decade. For the public sector, these opportunities could produce US $95B in cost savings, new revenues, and employee productivity enhancements over the same period.

The physical location of the Innovation Centre Toronto is yet another reason that makes this vibrant metropolis such an ideal location to co-create with our customers and our ecosystem of autonomous startups, entrepreneurs, app developers, accelerators and incubators. The state-of-the-art collaboration and demonstration facility is located on the 29th floor of Cisco Canada headquarters – already acclaimed as one of leading smart (commercial) buildings in North America.

Commitment to Canada and Digitization.
Collectively on our open digital platform (data base, APIs, infrastructure, IoT/fog), we will co-create IoT-based vertical solutions around Urban Innovation, Smart City Services, Financial Services, Healthcare, and Oil and Gas.

In addition to the platform, the Centre provides innovators with access to IoT solution experts to prototype everything from virtual fire hydrants and banking services to self-adjusting heating systems and IoE-based oil drilling tools. Vertical digital panels already showcase “the Canada digital story” throughout the facility; many more solutions will be featured as they come online in the future. The Centre will also drive a variety of programs to benefit innovation, including a program on female entrepreneurs.

The Innovation Centre Toronto culminates three years of growing R&D commitments to Canada and to IoT/IoE Innovations. Further, Cisco Canada and North America’s sixth largest bank, TD Bank Group (Toronto-Dominion Bank and subsidiaries), yesterday announced our agreement co-create new banking experiences for customers and employees. Stay tuned: Cisco expects to announce more relationships in the coming months.

Just as the Centre will innovate digital solutions that connect everything and everyone, the Centre itself will be interconnected to Cisco’s eight other super hubs (Berlin, Tokyo, London, Paris, Sydney/Perth, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, and Songdo), each with its special brand of localized capabilities. This newest link in our chain of innovation centers adds more value to the expanding network – the network multiplier effect – and it also serves as a gateway for Canadian companies to enter new global markets.

Mass digitization of countries, cities and companies is well under way, and Cisco Innovation Centre Toronto will clearly play a starring role to accelerate solutions for business and society. Because of it, I am confident the world of innovation will end this year on an even Bigger Bang.


Alex Goryachev

Senior Director, Innovation Strategy & Programs

Corporate Strategic Innovation Group