Earlier this year, emerging technology companies, subject matter experts and community leaders from across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta gathered virtually at the Community Solutions Network's Collision Day. The event sought to provide start-ups with feedback from community members, while also giving community leaders a chance to connect with technologies that could serve their residents.
That’s why Mitch Thomson, Executive Director of the Olds Institute, was there. The Alberta-based non-profit community and economic development organization empowers its volunteers to build more innovative and entrepreneurial communities.
Thomson was hoping to learn from the other attendees, and found he made more than one connection that he’ll be using down the line. We spoke with him about his experience of the event, and why he would recommend it to other community organizations.
What were your expectations heading into the event?
I was looking forward to gathering with a range of people from the community, and learning more about efficiencies we could be applying to our work.
What connections did you make at the event?
I made many connections at the event that I’m excited about. I’m very interested in how we could take a data-focused approach to some of the work that we do as well.
Stasi Baran from nQube, an AI-driven casino technology company, followed up with me after the event, and I believe they could be a valuable partner in the future. I enjoyed contributing to the conversations and relationships formed during the event. I learned a lot from those I met and felt I could contribute to their experiences as well. It was a win-win kind of day.
Have you followed up with any of your connections?
A week after I attended the event, I received an email from a group of students from Simon Fraser University, whose company Moment Energy is working with EV batteries. They wanted to know if I knew of any individuals or communities that might have a use for the technology.
I was able to connect them with someone I met at the Collision Day — Darrell Brown, President of Kisik Clean Energy. Darrell is working on solar and geothermal energy projects in Northern Indigenous communities. He was looking for a way to make the diesel generators that many communities use more energy efficient. I was able to connect the students with Darrell, something I wouldn’t have been able to do if I hadn’t met him at the event.
What was an unexpected outcome of the event for you?
I really enjoyed the format of the day. Having academics, business leaders and government folks in one room, that’s when you’re able to generate positive conversations and connections. I would suggest that this kind of coming together doesn’t happen as often as I’d like — people can get inside the silo of their own communities. Events like these take a potential connection or solution and make them a reality.
What would you say to someone considering participating in a future Collision Day?
I would say that people should participate because we don’t know what we don’t know. When you bring the right people together unexpected solutions can happen. Now, I have a list of contacts and organizations that I can reach out to when I encounter a challenge and am looking for a solution — it’s a very valuable resource to have.