CASE STUDY 3: The Abundance Institute
The Abundance Institute (AI) was a multi-stakeholder initiative to build an innovation Zone in the City of Guelph. The AI’s purpose was to respond to gaps experienced by companies at the intersection of traditional sectors (such as manufacturing, food & beverage, energy, water, materials, waste) and modern high-tech, globally-competitive businesses in emerging sectors such as custom manufacturing, advanced materials, cleantech, biotech, nanotech, precision agriculture, waste reuse, and other new technologies. At the same time, the AI would be aligned with a growing demand from small companies who wanted to use business as a force for good, through social innovation or corporate social responsibility.
The proposed AI was a multifunctional facility designed to accelerate the commercialization of technology products and services under the umbrella of the emerging abundance economy. The facility would catalyze the union of high powered computing & big data with traditional sectors such as water, energy, manufacturing, food, health, and agriculture; it would embrace new approaches to old problems and value the mixing of science, art and technology.
The AI model was built on partnerships between private industry, public institutions and NGOs. The model would facilitate collaboration and learning between people and companies across the full spectrum of company development, from students & start-ups to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It would leverage local expertise, regional assets, investment channels, and existing business support programs to expand and diversify regional economic growth and development. It was designed to form a significant part of a new business attraction and retention strategy by the City of Guelph and the surrounding region and lead to the establishment of globally competitive businesses and job creation in SW Ontario. The AI was intended as part of a long-term vision for Guelph’s innovation economy – a focal point for an emerging world-class business cluster and the first step toward capitalizing on technologies and services under the banner of abundance.
On a practical level, the AI would provide facilities and resources for innovators and entrepreneurs to test ideas, do prototyping, conduct day-to-day business, access shared facilities, and interact with other businesses, mentors, students, international visitors, and investors.
The AI project was put on hold when Doran left Innovation Guelph.