GBTN Spring Newsletter

I know it has been a long time between newsletters when I have to review the past events on our Facebook page to recall all that has happened since last putting fingers to keyboard.  2019 has continued to be a strong year for GBTN with great content and meeting participation.  Thanks to all those that have come out and continue to support GBTN. 

GBTN #15 the introduction of Experience Grey Bruce and Hi Bruce! to the masses.  Mat and Tim Dwyer provided us with a sneak peek into what will be a game changer for tourism in our area.  XPGB and Hi Bruce! will provide people looking to explore that area interactive and tailored vacation ideas using artificial intelligence and virtual reality.    Bonus they are also moving to the area.   Another success story for the AreYouMost campaign!

GBTN #16 our record setting meeting.  30+ people attended and were treated to another sneak peek this time of PrintCast from KP9.  PrintCast promises to be an intuitive and user friendly AR design studio built directly into your browser allowing anyone to add AR elements to print media.  Nothing to install, frictionless, intuitive, putting the power of AR into everyone’s hands hallmarks of KP9’s philosophy.   We also had Joe Shouldice of YES! Crickets stop by.  Those who dared tried his BBQ crickets, I did and they are awesome snacks. 

GBTN #17 squarely putting the T in GBTN with a demonstration of Google cloud deployment technologies from Marc LeBlanc of Arctiq – Intelligent Architecture.  Marc demonstrated how with some quick code a collection of virtual servers in the google cloud environment could be deployed (Kubernetes) and along with some other tools could be used to create a container for your app.  Completing the demo by deploying a simple weather app on top of the just created system. The advantages to this deployment being it can scale to meet the demands automatically.  A robust discussion on the advantages to this and other cloud based topics followed for what proved to be a very informative meeting for all in attendance.

Coming up GBTN #18 will take the show on the road Thursday June 20th at 7pm to Valleykirk Farms a robotic dairy operation just outside Owen Sound.  Please RSVP to this event by email or on the facebook event. 

Cheers, Mike

GBTN Winter / 2018 Year In Review Newsletter

As we enter Year 3 of GBTN I am excited to build on the momentum of the last 2 years.  Our mission has always been and continues to be to promote and encourage the growth of not only technology but the economy as a whole in the region and to be a resource to people to looking at our region as a place to live, work and play.  For 2019 I will continue to be our voice on the Owen Sound Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Committee.  Also, I have been asked to be a founding board member for the privately funded business accelerator being established in the new Grey County Skills and Innovation Centre.  We look forward to bringing exciting content to our meetings and giving all the opportunity to network and connect with a wide variety of individuals from our community.  Thank you to all of you who come and support the meetings I look forward to reconnecting with you at our next event.

Now let’s take a trip down memory lane and recap 2018 – Year 2 for GBTN and the successful year it was.  Our new home in the beautiful offices of KP9 in the heart of downtown Owen Sound provided the perfect space for our meetings.  We had a total of 8 meetings over the course of the year. 

Meeting 14 – Mark Stovel CPA and part time CFO detailed how segmented financial data can assist companies in each stage of their life cycle. At each stage segmenting your financial data can provide insight into where and how you should invest in your business. There is a lot of technology available to help analyze the data and keep it meaningful during each stage of a business life cycle. The meeting featured a small crowd but some great networking opportunities.

Whiteboard

Meeting 13 – SWOT Analysis of running a business in Grey Bruce.  Key strengths include cost of living and quality of life. One aspect I found interesting was that location could fall in each category. It was noted as a strength given the ability to reach into the perimeter of the GTA better than some companies inside the GTA.  A weakness due to weather and distance to markets. An opportunity for growth in a new area.  A threat to growth and reaching additional markets.  A big turnout thanks to a number of members from Entrepreneurs Anonymous from Hanover.

Meeting 12 – The “cattle rager”.  Informal patio get together at Mudtown Station. Reconnecting with our friend Chris Hebert from Silicon Halton

Meeting 11- The Serial Entrepreneur Bill Van Wyck – Bill’s span of businesses and boards provided a great deal of intriguing material for his presentation.  Bill’s keys to success: Know your own limits, trust and empower your employees, and embrace technology.

Great Turnout

Meeting 10 – User Experience Testing with Lynda Chiotti – One of the best attended meetings of the year.  Many of us working in the software industry were excited to learn tips on how to test a user interface.  I certainly came away from this meeting looking at our user front end differently and we implemented a number of usability changes as a result.

Meeting 9 – Owen Sound Library Tech Presentation – The library staff showed us some of their newest technology including a 3D printer and a cricut paper cutter.  Each are available to use and staff can assist.  The library now has Ozobots and continues to add technology that can be accessed by anyone.  It’s great to see how much is available at the library.  They are always looking for tech savvy volunteers to assist.

Meeting 8 – The Tech Showcase – Eric Busch introduced us to his company Datafeedr a WordPress plugin that enables the sale of 450,000,000+ products through some quick configuration. Once setup, the connection to Datafeedr automatically updates the product and pricing information in the store.  Aaron Mader gave us a firsthand look at his AI driven “Memories Project”.  The “Memories Project” is a service that records live audio interactions as users view pictures to create a story and tag photos with meaningful content. 

Meeting 7 – CTRE – Russ Ellis and team provided us with a tour of the CTRE Production offices in downtown Owen Sound.  Complete with the only green room in the county there are lots of cool toys in the CTRE offices.  At the time Russ and team were working on their first Alpine event.  CTRE now has a number of alpine, cycling and adventure events that they live stream.  I had a blast watching my wife at the Bruce Peninsula Multi Sport Race thanks to the CTRE team.  We also connected with Chris Hebert of Silicon Halton at this meeting. 

A few other positive randoms from 2018.  Our friends and wonderful meeting hosts April and Wil of KP9 realized all tech statups dreams and were acquired by MetaVrse in late 2018.  A huge accomplishment and a testament of their hard work and dedication.  Proving that technology businesses can exist and thrive in our region. Helping convince my colleague and our lead developer to relocate to Grey County (having 2 kids living here may have helped too) J Hosting as part of the AreYouMost campaign which has generated a great connection with Mat Dwyer who will be presenting at our next meeting and with any luck soon a resident of our area. Working with the County on the future Skills and Innovation Centre.  Connecting members with each other to drive business and employment opportunities, this includes our connection with Silicon Halton.  Watching our downtown core add new businesses and continuing the momentum of growth. Participating in a number of roundtable working groups as the voice of technology in the area.

Lots of great things coming up. Our next meeting is February 12th, 7pm @ KP9.  Mat Dwyer will be presenting about Experience Grey Bruce. Experience Grey Bruce will be a new way to see all of the wonderful attractions in our region using the latest in technology.  Remember you can have your own profile page on our website by becoming a GBTN member for $10 per year.  This year meetings will be “pay what you can”.  Both initiative are solely to offset costs associated with web hosting and meetings.

I now start the 7 day countdown to moving into our new family home.  Wish us luck!

Cheers, Mike

GBTN – Summer Newsletter – “International Edition”

Well here we are, middle of summer, heat and more heat, not only in Grey-Bruce but here in England too. I write this newsletter from just outside Newcastle on location working at a Rayovac hearing aid battery factory.  They are currently experiencing the warmest and driest summer since the 1960’s. It’s one of the many manufacturing plants that I have had the opportunity to work at in my career.  I find it amazing that on one line, 60,000 batteries an hour, 1,440,000 a day are produced, and that is only 1 line.

What I also find amazing is the number of businesses local serial entrepreneur Bill Van Wyck has been involved with.  Bill was our feature speaker at the June 19th meeting.  What a great presentation Bill gave us.  From dog grooming products, boats, packaging manufacturing to an online research repository Bill has seen and been involved in a wide variety of companies. Each one successful due to some basic guiding principles.  Know your own limits, trust and empower your employees, and embrace technology.  Those in attendance had some great questions for Bill in regards to these principles and came away with valuable insight into his recipe for success.  We also spent quite a while discussing the technology and approach to growth in his current venture Global Research Library Inc.  https://edu.global .  Bill was clear that Global Research Library Inc. would have been here in Owen Sound if there was access to high speed internet.  Likely one of the reasons Bill lent his skills to the board of SWIFT, one of many boards Bill contributes his time to. Although the turn out to the meeting was smaller than usual it was great to see 3 new faces at this meeting.  Thanks to all those who came out.

I had planned to publish the summer newsletter earlier than this but soon after our meeting I received an invite to participate in a round table working session on the development of the Grey County Business Generator which would be located in Grey County Innovation Centre (the former Sydenham School).  The meeting was coordinated by Grey County and involve a wide variety of participants such as Tony Solecki (CEO of Caframo), Ashley Chapman (VP of Chapmans Ice Cream), Matt Moss (local organic farmer), Courtney Denard (Field Reporter with Ontario Farmer Publications and owner of Valleykirk Dairy farm), Stan Didzbalis (Bluewater Angels), Jeremy McCoubrey (Troy Fire and Safety), Michael Warren (CEO of the Warren Group) and more. In total there were about 20 people at the table representing a wide variety of industries.  The task at hand was to review and provide feedback on the concept developed by the Business Generator working group.  The Business Generator will be a private sector initiative with a board and an executive director.

What follows is 2 excerpts from the background document provided to those at the meeting explaining the unique approach and keys to success of The Generator. I thought these 2 excerpts would give our network membership a good insight into what and how The Generator is going to operate within the Innovation Centre.

The unique approach of The Generator: The Generator will reach out to proactively attract businesses within food and agriculture economy, tourism (with emphasis on eco-­‐tourism and educational tourism) and light manufacturing. At the same time The Generator will take in and nurture entrepreneurs from all industry sectors with great ideas and what is deemed to be solid growth potential. The Generator is taking a unique approach to incubate businesses by applying a market-pull approach. To minimize start-up risks and go‐to-market challenges, the Generator will first investigate gaps in the existing local business community, industries, products, services for which there is a demand, and look for talent to fill those gaps. This strategy will allow startups to develop business models with guaranteed sales markets and boost existing local businesses. The Generator will closely collaborate with colleges and universities and make presentations to students graduating from faculties in fields of interest to the Generator such as agriculture, tourism and entrepreneurship. By educating the younger demographic cohort on opportunities within Grey County, the Generator hopes to attract a flow of skilled newcomers and retain them long term.

The Keys to Success of The Generator:

  1. Strong value proposition – the Generator must develop a unique and attractive offering to secure desired “residents”. This offer must include valuable resources at affordable cost over the long term and on a self-­‐sustained basis.
  2. Management support services – these services include assistance in fundamental skills and services, such as marketing, hiring, outsourcing, bookkeeping, networking and legal assistance, as well as training in business planning and organization. Effective management and administration is the key to success.
  3. Partnerships to attract talent – having ties to educational institutions is beneficial as it allows the Generator to have access to potential new “residents”. Other talent networks can include groups of entrepreneurs, investors, professionals, consultants, service providers, vendors, interns and others. Networking, in the form of seminars and workshops, is another tool to attract new talent and potential “residents”.
  4. Ongoing flow of expertise, funding and resources to support and motivate “residents” – These affect both the Generator’s ability to win the right talent and its ability to easily and adequately support it throughout the growing stages.
  5. Success stories – The most certain way to attract more talent and investment is by proving the Generator’s capability to grow new business.

Sometimes I wonder how many people go to the website, read the newsletters, but yesterday I received a note from a member that the website was not working.  A member had tried to access the website to get some information from a previous newsletter about one of our tech presentations.  The security certificate failed to renew automatically, I fixed it quickly.  I am glad I got the note so I could fix the website, but what the note really did was again reaffirm that the network in small ways is working and that makes me happy.

Look for a social night at Owen Sound’s newest Restaurant-Brewery, Mudtown Station, sometime in August and a return to more formal meetings in the fall.  Until then enjoy the summer heat while it lasts.

Cheers, Mike

The REAL Spring Newsletter

So I do apologize that I created the “3rd winter”, as my wife called it, after publishing the first “spring” newsletter.  Spring was almost here for our last meeting, and summer could very well be here when you read this, but I offer no guarantees on the weather in Grey-Bruce.

A couple fun days coming up May 4th and May 5th.  Celebrate Star Wars with a free VRCade night at KP9 May 4 – KP9 VRcade Night and follow that up the next day at Cesaro Kitchen Table for their Cinco Cervezas celebration with Beau’s – 5 beer samples paired with 5 food courses Cesaro Cinco Cervezas Celebration.

The network continues to grow! Our last meeting saw 17 people out for the User Experience Testing presentation and we are at 72 Facebook group members.  Of special note, my colleague and our lead developer recently relocated to just outside Hanover from London.  I like to think I had a hand in selling him on Grey County living #areyoumost . I also presented about the group at the last Owen Sound Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Committee, furthering the mission of advocating for tech in our community.

Related to advocating for tech in our community, I attended the Grey County Economic Development Breakfast Mixer:  Investing in Innovation.  Hanover local and now Partnerships Lead at The DMZ  in Toronto, Jordan Becker was the keynote speaker.  Honestly I really wasn’t exactly sure how incubators truly worked before Jordan’s presentation.  Coming out of it I was clear on incubators role, which can be summed up in the 4 C’s – Customers, Coaching, Capital and Community.  Jordan’s presentation was of great value as, we the community, plot the direction of the “STIC” – Skill Trades and Innovation Centre.  Again Grey County Economic Development team doing a great job to engage and educate as we move forward on this very important project. Note – If you have a better idea for a name for the “STIC”, share with us/Grey County.

The much anticipated User Experience Testing meeting happened on April 24th.  Lynda Chiotti gave us a great presentation on the concepts of user experience testing, testing techniques, and answered questions on applying these concepts and techniques in our own work.  She also provided a case study of Aaron Mader’s “Memories Project” noting the types of target users and use cases she felt would apply.  I definitely looked at our software differently the next day.  One of the things from the presentation which really resonated with me was that what appears to be easy and straightforward for the creator/developer of the software may not be as easy and straightforward for the end user.  So it’s important to allow users to discover the software without intervention to really get a sense of its usability, and that is why this testing is so important.  Lynda shared some online resources with us that you may find useful. boxesandarrows.com  uxdesign.cc userfocus.co.uk jjg.net uxpajournal.org

I failed to highlight in the last newsletter some of the tech Aaron is using for his project.  Aaron is learning about and leveraging available machine learning APIs to process the photos and audio.  These APIs can add data to the photos which allow for organizing / classifying and can process the audio files providing a synopsis / key points from the audio.  I wanted to make sure that members who weren’t at the meeting knew about the tech Aaron is employing, it’s really cool, and maybe just a little scary?

It was a full house at Heartwood Hall for the first Mentor Mash in Grey Bruce.  11 successful entrepreneurs & mentors from the Bluewater Angels, Georgian College Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre and additional successful local business people gave their time to offer their expertise in a speed-dating style evening of mentoring. Approximately 14 different entrepreneurs and inventors brought their ideas to each mentor to gather information and ask any questions they had about either expanding their current business or starting a new one.  “It was a successful night for everyone involved and I hope they do this again”, says April Robinson who was supporting a friend with a new invention.

Look for our next meeting near the end of June.  Just working out the specifics of the topic and timing.

And if the “4th winter” comes, it’s not my fault.

Cheers, Mike

GBTN Spring Newsletter

It’s starting to look a bit like spring but for me I only call it spring when I see the robins on my front lawn and that has yet to happen, so come on robins! And yes I know people have seen Robins already nearby but they aren’t in my yard yet 🙂

We followed up our successful first meeting of 2018 with our first Tech Showcase, which was also the first official meeting at our new home in the offices of KP9.  The idea of the tech showcase came out of a parking lot conversation after our meeting with Georgian College last fall.  Matt Langeman suggested it and the idea stuck with me. Once we had a home base with the appropriate tech to have presentations I knew we had to have one.  It turned out to be our most attended event so far.  The first ever tech showcase featured presentations by Eric Busch and Aaron Mader.  Eric presented his product called datafeedr.  Datafeedr allows WordPress site developers/owners to easily setup an online shop which connects to datafeedr’s massive database of products (450,000,000 +!!). It automatically adds products to your online shop based on the user’s desired search criteria. It also automatically keeps products up to date with the latest pricing information. Lastly, it removes products from the user’s online shop if the product is no longer for sale.  Aaron’s presentation was of a photo sharing / story telling application that leveraged machine learning to categorize/organize photos which you could then associate with an audio recording.  The idea is to capture those times when you sat around a photo album with your parents/loved ones and stories about the photos were shared.  Aaron wants the audio capture to be unobtrusive to allow for those truly genuine stories and moments to be captured. It’s a work in progress for Aaron who took a 2 month sabbatical from his existing customer projects to focus on this very personal project.  The discussion around both presentations was filled with great questions and ideas.

We met again on March 20th at the library where we were given a demonstration of 2 technologies soon to be available in the library’s makerspace. The LulzBot Mini 3-D printer can print objects up to 6”x6”x6”.  Object design files, STL extension, are readily available from a number of online repositories. Should want to create your own you would need to have the 3D design exported to an STL file.   It’s not a fast machine and requires proper temperature settings but for the tinkerer looking to make a gift or prototype it’s certainly a great resource for the community. The Cricut is a smart cutting machine that will cut designs out of paper and fabrics.  It uses the Design Space app to load, edit and execute your designs. Patterns are readily available online.  I see this being very handy for the scrapbook/craft minded folks, library staff made some very nice cards during the demo. The library plans to have its makerspace in the auditorium along one wall.  The space will have workbenches and cabinets for storage.  You will be able to book time on the equipment after some instruction and training.  Thanks to Tim and the library staff for hosting us.

Our next meeting is on the calendar. We will meet Tuesday April 24, 2018 – 7pm at KP9 Interactive. Lynda Chiotti will be presenting on her work in User Experience Testing. As part of this presentation she is doing a case study on Aaron Mader’s software which he presented at the last tech showcase. Lynda attended our tech showcase in January and a number of us were very interested in learning more about her work in User Experience Testing so I hope that we have a full house for this exciting topic.

Looking forward there are a few other events on the horizon that are worth mentioning.

Tuesday April 3, 2018 – Grey County – Breakfast Mixer – Investing In Innovation

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/breakfast-mixer-investing-in-innovation-tickets-44112967072

Wednesday April 25, 2018 – The Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre and the Bluewater Angels are proud to present: Mentor Mash!

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/mentor-mash-networking-and-collision-event-tickets-44153108135

I can’t wait for spring and I hope we see it and you at our meeting on April 24th.

Happy Easter!

Cheers, Mike

 

 

GBTN Winter Newsletter – The Connections Edition

I wanted to focus this newsletter on connections and as I thought about that I kept coming back to this idea.  “Connections make technology, technology makes connections.”   Consider that a lot of tech is generated by connecting other tech together like hardware, software, functions, subroutines, devices, etc.  Then consider that tech like our phones, the internet, Facebook, Twitter, Skype etc. allows us as humans to connect. So it stands that, connections make technology, technology makes connections.  That’s what we are trying to do here at Grey Bruce Technology Network allow technologies that our members are experts at to connect and make more tech, as well as, allow members to connect through their shared interest in technology.

Our first meeting of 2018 featured some great connections.  Russ Ellis and team hosted us at the home of Ellis Gray Consulting and CTRE Productions in downtown Owen Sound.  It was great to see some new faces including the guys from Renewed Computers who not only have lots of hard to find tech bits but also some of the best holiday decorations and dahlias around.

Another connection at the meeting was Chris Herbert, founder of Silicon Halton. Chris and I connected at the Ag 4.0.1 conference in Meaford a few months back.  Chris has a long history of connections in the area from running a racquet ball club in Owen Sound, to family in Wiarton, and summer vacationing in Sauble.  Chris gave us some background on Silicon Halton and its development.  Like GBTN it started as a grassroots organization looking to connect people and businesses in technology.  Silicon Halton is now approaching its 100th meetup, with one every month that will mark Silicon Halton’s 100th month anniversary.  At that 100th meet up, local Wil McReynolds CEO of KP9 Interactive will be speaking along with other CEOs. Another connection made courtesy of GBTN.  Look for more connections to develop between Silicon Halton and GBTN in the future.

The tour of CTRE Productions green room was very impressive, with a lot of cool tech on display.  The green room allows CTRE to place anyone in virtually any environment they wish.  From a downhill ski run to a “Sports Centre” style set CTRE can put you there.  You don’t even have to remember your lines, CTRE is newly equipped with a tele-prompter, keeping your focus on message and not on words.  Within an hour CTRE can record, edit and have you out the door with a hard copy of your video.  Keep that in mind next time you are looking for a quick way to connect with your target audience.  On the consulting side Ellis Gray turns your business ideas into reality with a full suite of services from business plan design to execution.  They are currently working with a number of clients globally including a new local cidery.  I can’t wait to try the latest in craft cider from our area and see what else in the world Ellis Gray develops.

One more connection at the meeting that I want to mention.  Ross Barefoot, who is a 3D modeller/designer, came to one of our meetings last year after recently returning to the area.  At that meeting Ross met Russ from CTRE.  From there a connection was made and now Ross is part of the CTRE team.  Again connections make technology, technology makes connections.

Through connections made by starting the network I was asked if I would be interested in submitting an application to be on the city of Owen Sound’s Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Committee.  I thought it would be great opportunity to advocate for the tech sector in relation to economic development so I put in my application.  I was selected by council and now will serve a one year term on the committee.  Stay tuned for updates.

GBTN has a home! KP9 Interactive has graciously offered their HQ as the official meeting spot for GBTN.  The back room at Shorty’s was great, but our new home has the tools for members to showcase their tech and VR gaming.  Besides we can have wings delivered.

2 upcoming meetings are on the schedule.

Tuesday February 27th 7pm – KP9 HQ downtown Owen Sound – I am looking for 1-2 members who would like to present their tech to the group.  We wanted to give members a better opportunity to explain what they are up to in more detail.  Send me a message here or email owensoundtechnologynetwork@gmail.com if you’d like to participate.

Tuesday March 20th 7pm – Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library – Tim Nicholls Harrison, CEO of the library will be hosting us. He will show us the new 3D printer and other technology in use at the library.  Tim is also interested in hearing from members about what their vision of the library and technology would look like.

Cheers, Mike

Links to businesses and organizations mentioned in the newsletter.

ctreproductions.com

ellisgrayconsulting.com

siliconhalton.com

renewedcomputers.com

kp9.ca

owensound.ca/en/city-hall/committee

OSNGUPL Facebook Page

GBTN – End of Year Newsletter

“Poof”, what’s that you ask, just the time vaporizer consuming another month.  It’s been a busy time with kiddos, events, work and Christmas prep but here we are with the End of Year Newsletter.  Just over a year ago on December 12, 2016 the Owen Sound Technology Facebook group was created.  It’s been a fun first year and has turned out much better than I could have imagined.  There have been many good meetings and a lot of opportunity to provide input from the technology sector into local governments. These meetings with the county and the city help with the goal to encourage more of “us” to relocate to the area / connect in the area. I am excited that we have a seat at the table and our input is welcomed.  I look forward to 2018 and beyond.

So what’s happened since the last newsletter?  Well let’s get right to it, shall we.

I attended the Grey County Economic Development mixer at Thornbury Cider in early November sponsored by Bluewater Wood Alliance http://bluewaterwoodalliance.com/ and Incubator North http://incubatornorth.com/ .  It was a great opportunity to network and was nice to see a few members out at the event.  Both the Wood Alliance and Incubator North gave introductions about what they were all about. The wood alliance is a “cluster” which is a very interesting concept of what would be seen as competitors in the market working together to be stronger through innovation and best practice / knowledge sharing.   Incubator North based in Thornbury provides a space and assistance for ideas to come alive.  Started by Tom Andersen and James Palmer, the principles behind Palmer Andersen Design & Development, Incubator North has the ability to provide software services big or small to move an idea to market.

Next up was our end of year meet up at the new offices of KP9 Interactive https://www.kp9.ca/ .  An informal meet up with VR toys to play with and a tour of the office space provided a nice way to close out the 2017 meeting season.  April and Wil were wonderful hosts with a special KP9 shot creation (so yummy) and lots of snacks.  Wil gave us insight into the KP9 ExplorAR app and introduced us to beacon technology, a piece of equipment I was not familiar with before.  I have no doubt that the app and associated technology are going to be a game changer in tourism and marketing, all proudly developed here in Owen Sound. I have to say I may not be cut out for VR, it really messed with my perceptions, at times I was putting down the controller onto the virtual table, but it might have been the KP9 shot J

Later on in November I headed over to Meaford Hall for the Ag 4.0.1 conference. Being a resident of the “MoM” I was very happy to see it play host to this conference.  Many people have a bit of heartburn over the Hall but I love the venue and have seen so many good shows there, I am happy some of my tax dollars support it.  The hall made for the perfect venue for the Ag conference.  Ag 4.0.X is the brainchild of Philly Markowitz from Grey County Economic Development, Philly was very instrumental in connecting our group with Grey County and helping grow our numbers.  I was excited by the program and the connection of technology and agriculture, especially around farm automation and big data usage.  The I,Robot? Session was a very interesting discussion on the realities of switching to robotics and other tech solutions. It is apparent the future farmer will need to be more dependent on brain rather than brawn. Several sessions gave light to the massive amount of data being generated by farms and how this data can be leveraged to improve practices both in production and environmental protection. I believe furthering ag-tech in our area would be a great opportunity for the potential community hub and a program focus at the college, providing the necessary tech skills needed for our area farm community.

SWIFT update!  Middlesex County signed on with SWIFT in late October. This valuable addition means that SWIFT now represents the combined connectivity interests of ALL 15 members of the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus Inc. (WOWC) as well as the Town of Caledon, City of Orillia, City of Windsor and the Niagara and Waterloo Regions.   Here is a recent article from TVO about SWIFT.  https://tvo.org/article/current-affairs/the-next-ontario/the-need-for-speed-slow-internet-connections-burden-rural-ontarians

I for one can attest to the reliance on towers for internet.  We are looking for property to build a new home and the availability of a connection to a GBTel tower is a primary consideration. I certainly hope we see fibre at least to our existing towers in the near term, leaving the “last mile” still delivered by wireless technology.  This approach would give me and others on the towers a faster link.

Our next meeting will be Tuesday January 23rd, 7pm at the CTRE Production Studios in Downtown Owen Sound.  I am excited to see Russ’ space and hear more about what CTRE and Ellis Gray Consulting are doing.  Russ has been a great supporter of the group and I believe along with Iain Campbell have perfect attendance for all our meet ups.  Appreciate the support guys!

So that wraps it up.  Again I thank everyone who has come out to meetings, your participation is vital in maintaining the groups profile in the community and further the goal of more tech people and businesses in the area.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.  See you in 2018, when I hope the time vaporizer slows down.

Cheers, Mike

OSTN – Autumn Newsletter

Hi Everyone,

Autumn is here! I really like the word autumn over fall, it makes me think of all the beautiful colors we get as the leaves turn where fall gives the season a depressing fall into winter feel.  Regardless of what you call it we all know what it means, winter is around the corner. But hey we love winter up here, bring it on!

It’s been a busy few weeks so let’s get right into the update.

Back to school meeting

On October 3rd we sat down at Georgian College with Lise Mollon, Business Manager – Georgian College and Savanna Myers, Economic Development Manager – Grey County to discuss the Community Hub: Skills Training, Trades and Innovation Centre.  We heard that the goal is to have the Centre up and running in the former Sydenham School by September 2018.  This is a very ambitious goal but one that I think is needed to show the community at large how serious the college, county and the rest of us are about making this happen. The plan is to have all services under one roof for the advancement of Skills Training, Trades and Innovation.  This will include onsite child care which I think is an excellent idea. The College will be an anchor tenant along with 3-4 others. The college and county were looking for input from the Network on what we would like to see in this centre to encourage and grow technology related industries in the area.   Several good ideas were brought to the table:

  • device library to aid in app development across various platforms
  • commercial grade 3D printer for rapid prototyping and product development
  • access to relevant server/network technology for training and development
  • focus the college/centre technology on an existing core competency in the region such as marine tech, ag tech, seniors tech, marijuana tech, nuclear tech and become known as a destination/leader for that specific technology
  • provide, extend offerings from the Henry Bernick centre locally
  • offer modular technology focused courses– weekends, nights – building blocks
  • create a culture of innovation – provide creative spaces and amenities like current tech companies
  • offer a traditional IT/programming 2 year course at OS campus so that youth coming out of high school have an opportunity to take it locally

The college and county welcome as much input and help as possible as they move forward with this bold initiative.  If anyone in the network would like to provide thoughts, ideas or would like to potentially assist in offering courses once the centre is running reach out to Savanna Myers Savanna.Myers@grey.ca

Are you most?

As you may know I signed up to be a host for Owen Sound’s “Are You Most” recruitment/marketing campaign.  I was asked to host a family from Waterloo who has a digital marketing software start-up and is looking to relocate close to water.  On Saturday night I took them to one of my favorite indoor places in Owen Sound, the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, to watch the Attack play.  The family has a 4 year old son and he was treated to 9 Attack goals by the end of the 2nd period, at that point he was ready for bed.  Sunday morning our families had a nice breakfast at Harrison Park Inn.  This gave us all an opportunity to connect and for the visiting family a time to ask both myself and my wife questions about the area.  After breakfast the kids played on the playground before the rain came down.  We suggested they hit up another one of our favorite spots before they left, Coffin Ridge Winery.  Reports back were they loved it. We said our goodbyes and both my wife and I thought that the family would be welcome and fun addition to the community.  Hope to see you guys here one day!  The experience definitely furthered my belief that the “Are You Most” campaign is a successful initiative and one that shows the city is looking outside the box.

A little side note on the campaign, if you happen across the latest copy of Escarpment Magazine you’ll find a picture of yours truly doing what I love to do, ride my bike, and yes that is a denim print cycling kit from Martin’s in Southampton.

Mayor’s Growth Plan Workshop

On October 18th I participated in the Mayor’s Growth Plan Workshop in Owen Sound.  The Mayor has assembled a working group to determine how to encourage community growth.  To assist this working group the city organized a community growth workshop which included a cross section of individuals from our community.  In the workshop we were broken into small groups and each group was tasked to identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT analysis) of marketing/attracting the city to various demographics.  Our group reinforced that the current Are You Most campaign and its target market should be a priority for the city.  There was also a lot of discussion about the public perception of Owen Sound both in the city and outside.  When asked to report back, the one key item that our group felt was a top priority was to change the perception of Owen Sound.  The day before the workshop the Mayor announced a bold initiative “30,000 by 2030”, looking to increase Owen Sound’s population to 30,000 by the year 2030.  I applaud the mayor for an ambitious goal and think that we are poised to move the population needle forward especially with the positive momentum in the downtown core, the community hub and the Sydenham Heights development.  In the end do I see the population reaching 30,000, no, but I do think it’s reasonable to think that we could hit 25,000.  I thought this was a very good workshop and was happy to participate on the Network’s behalf. It shows the commitment of the current city council to being progressive and thinking outside the box when it comes to encouraging growth.

Network Updates

We had a great suggestion at our last meeting that we start having members highlight their projects and expertise in more detail at upcoming meetings.  One member will be given the opportunity to highlight their projects and technical expertise at coming meetings.  This will allow members to better understand the skills and resources available locally which could lead to collaboration and/or business opportunities. I am still working towards adding member profiles to the website, hopefully once the “time vaporizer”, aka 2 month old + 2.5 year old slows down 🙂

Thanks to all those that came out to our “Back to school” meeting.

I am excited to announce our next meeting will be Tuesday November 21, 7pm at the new downtown offices of KP9 Interactive.  This will be our last meeting of 2017 so come on out to learn about KP9 and their suite of AR apps.

Cheers, Mike

OSTN – Back to School Newsletter

Hey Everyone,

My kids aren’t in school yet so no relief of sending them off for the day here but I hope some of you are enjoying some “kids at school” time.

In late August I attended a meeting at Georgian College organized by Grey County to discuss “The Case for a Dedicated Community Hub: Skills Training, Trades and Innovation Centre”.  This meeting brought together government and private sector from the area to discuss the current skills gap in today’s workforce and the potential of creating a Community Hub: Skills Training, Trades and Innovation Centre.  Dave Barrett of Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program who led the workshop was very good at pointing out that creating a community hub is easy, sustaining it is the hard part and that is what they wanted feedback on from this group. After a presentation on the case for a community hub and the objectives of the meeting we were sat in groups for a round table exercise focused on the programs needed to bridge the skills gap and how to sustain a community hub.  I was excited by this meeting and thought that our network could lend some ideas on the sustainability of a Community Hub: Skills Training, Trades and Innovation Centre.

With Georgian College looking to address the skills gap with new course offerings as well as be a partner in the community hub and Grey County looking for input into the community hub initiative I thought what better than to get us all together and have a chat.  With our next meeting already scheduled with Lise Mollon, Georgian College Owen Sound Business Manager, to talk about technology courses at Georgian I reached out to Savanna Myers, Grey County Economic Development Manager, and asked if she would like to add the community hub to our discussion.  Savanna, a network member, was excited at the opportunity.  So just in time for back to school our next meeting will be Tuesday October 3rd, 7pm at Georgian College where we will discussion technology courses, skills gap and the community hub concept.  I hope to see lots of you out for this exciting opportunity to assist both Georgian and Grey County in shaping the future of technology in our area.

A number of other things are on tap for the next few months.

The Owen Sound and North Grey Library has reached out and asked for a meeting to discuss its new technology and makerspace.

I’ve been invited to participate in a workshop on community growth with the City of Owen Sound on October 18th look for a report in the next newsletter.

Owen Sound’s “Are You Most” campaign is in full swing.  Reports are that the response has been very positive with over 50 inquiries and 10 potential candidates so far.  https://www.areyoumost.com/

Grey County is hosting a creative mixer which you may be interested in attending.  Details below.

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 8, 2017 – 6:30pm to 9:00pm, Thornbury Village Cider House, 90 King St. E. Thornbury ON

Hear from the leaders and champions behind cluster development. Guest speakers include Bluewater Wood Alliance and Incubator North.

A free business networking event for those interested in learning about, joining or starting an industry cluster. This event is ideal for entrepreneurs, business owners, community organizations, developers and real estate agents. Limited spaces available. Refreshments provided. Interested parties please RSVP to Mary Jane Hills ecdev@grey.ca or 519-376-3365 ext 6108

Cheers, Mike

OSTN – Summer Newsletter

Summer is here, for the most part.  Although the weather has been dodgy there is always lots to do, here’s hoping you all had time to get out and get some fun in.  We took in several of Owen Sound’s summer festivities.  There is something going on every weekend throughout the summer! The whole Maawanji’iding: Festival Canadiana Owen Sound – June 30 to July 9, 2017 was great.  The first weekend we went to Imagination Day.  It was great to see our friends at LaunchPad there with technology driven content for kids.  We hit the street festival one day where my daughter got to see snakes and reptiles. The following weekend we took in the Big Rubber Duck and some live entertainment.

On July 25 we had a meet up featuring Stan Didzbalis from the Bluewater Angel Investor Group http://www.bluewaterangels.ca/ , as well as Paulette Peirol City of Owen Sound https://www.owensound.ca/ and Chris Hughes of BC Hughes http://www.bchughes.ca/ . Stan provided us with details about the Bluewater Angels and their efforts to grow the local economy through investing.  Paulette and Chris gave us the skinny on the Millennipreneurs Recruitment Campaign.

If you are familiar with Dragon Dens then you will likely be familiar with what the Bluewater Angels are looking for when approaching a potential investment. First the angels want equity, it’s not a loan. Each Angel decides whether or not to invest their own money.  A candidate may have one or more Angels make offers.  The Angels are looking for candidates with a strong business plan and if possible an existing customer base.  Any candidate must have a product/service that is scalable and being on the leading edge or providing a disruptive technology is an asset.  Stan said over 40 applications have been received but no funds handed out yet.  The Angels provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates so that they can sharpen their proposal.

The Millennipreneurs Recruitment Campaign is launching this month and is going to be a very unique marketing initiative from the City. Presenting the city’s challenges as opportunities to eager Millennipreneurs is a differentiator from other live/work/play campaigns.  A website will ask a series of filter questions to determine fit.  The questions will be bold and a bit cheeky an example Chris gave off the cuff was   “Do you like snow?” if the person answered no they would be linked to a site for Windsor economic development.  Successful applicants will be provided a weekend stay and be toured by ambassadors that are matched to the applicant.  Any of OSTN members interested in being an ambassador contact Paulette Peirol ppeirol@owensound.ca .  The more ambassadors we have the better matching can be done.  Whatever time commitment you can make will help.

I was excited to hear more about the Downtown River Precinct Plan. We will keep our eyes on this as it develops. https://www.facebook.com/CityofOwenSound/videos/1570825836272371/

We are going to have a Summer Social on Thursday August 31, 7pm at Leith Beach.  Come enjoy hopefully nice weather and beautiful views.  Check out https://www.facebook.com/greybruceexplorer/  to see what the view looks like when the sun goes down.  Bring a lawn chair, your favorite beverage and snack, chat tech or not with other members.

In the fall look for a meet up at Georgian College and maybe one at an exciting new tech spot downtown 🙂

Cheers, Mike