Lead: S. Ashleigh Weeden, PhD Student (2017-present)

We live in an era obsessed with innovation. So much so that in 2016, the Government of Canada began work on a new national ‘Innovation Agenda’ with the following proposition: “Innovation is a Canadian value. It’s in our nature, and now more than ever, it will create jobs, drive growth and improve the lives of all Canadians. It’s how we make our living, compete and provide solutions to the world. We have the talent, the drive, the dedication and the opportunity to succeed. So, what’s next?” However, as every public consultation on the Innovation Agenda took place in a major city and produced initiatives with names like ‘the Smart Cities Challenge,’ it seems like ‘what’s next’ is a national innovation conversation so steeped in unquestioned urbanism that it fails to even acknowledge, let alone include, rural Canadians.

This doctoral research project will use a comparative case study approach to investigate the complex relationships at play in place-based rural innovation ecosystems and provide grounded, illustrative narratives for informing public policy. What are the different models of rural innovation ecosystems? How do place, policies, and people influence the ability of rural communities to leverage innovation ecosystems and seize their digital destinies? What can Canada learn from international examples of innovation ecosystems done right? How do we integrate rural communities into an Innovation Agenda that includes and inspires all Canadians?

Check back for further updates on this research initiative as it develops or contact Ashleigh at weedens@uoguelph.ca

Project Resources