It all started as a series of coffee chats between peers. The Friday afternoon conversations explored the power of purposeful organizations and the desire to build strong communities through innovation.
Maybe not your typical coffee chat, but this wasn’t your typical group.
A powerhouse executive, a leader in economic development, a communications wizard and an expert in innovation design. Together, their experience and expertise centred around engineering economies, solving tough problems, building strong brands, and implementing (sometimes crazy) ideas that work.
With a shared goal to do good work with big impact, the small and mighty group of four formed NorthGuide in 2021. They quickly recognized a need for operational and financial excellence and stellar public affairs leadership and brought more experts on board.
Since then, NorthGuide has grown into a dynamic team of full-timers, part-timers, advisors and gig workers spanning industries and sectors. What does every NorthGuider have in common? A commitment and passion for creating meaningful impact.
Our meetings have grown from those Friday coffee chats, but the topics haven’t changed. We are dedicated to making good companies stronger and great communities thrive. And our bias for action means we don’t just help build the plan, we stick around to see the results in action.
In 2021, we came together to build a strategy firm like no other—one made up of experienced doers from the highest level of industry and innovation; one obsessed with making a difference. What connected us was our experience prior to NorthGuide. Decades of solving difficult problems, developing and deploying ideas that work, building breakthrough brands and engineering strong economies. Some of our combined accomplishments include:
Launched a national strategy to build a globally-competitive concentration of digital and mobile startups and research commercialization in Canada. Launched Hyperdrive and REV accelerator programs to compete with TechStars and YC. Launched GoNorth Canada campaign to convince expatriates to return to Canada’s tech sector.
Built and activated 90,000 square feet of open innovation space in Downtown Kitchener as part of the City’s innovation agenda and downtown revitalization efforts. Attracted hundreds of startups and dozens of global multinational firms to co-locate and collaborate, contributing to economic renewal.
Launched the largest open innovation program in North America to support innovation for global brands like Toronto Dominion Bank, Manulife, General Motors, Thomson Reuters, and OpenText. Added corporate innovation programming for enterprise-scale public sector agencies including the Canadian Digital Service, Workplace Safety Insurance Board and the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Fierce Founders: Launched Canada’s first national accelerator for female founders, helping them with market validation, raising capital, revenue generation, marketing and sales. Added Fierce Founders Uplift stream for women and non-binary founders from equity deserving groups.
Data and Advanced Technologies: In partnership with hundreds of small, medium and large companies, designed and launched three key initiatives: DATABASE – launched a low-earth orbit satellite mesh network, Data Hub - facility to focus on big data and advanced technology opportunities for Canada and Advanced Technology Programs to support commercialization of advanced technologies in key areas: big data, autonomous vehicles, AI and ML, Quantum, and 5G.
Communitech Outposts: Launched an employer-of-record service making it easy for Canadian tech companies to quickly onboard, pay and manage global employees in 160 jurisdictions without having to create a new corporate entity or hire a contractor.
Future of Work and Learning Coalition: Brought together a community of employers, employees, academia and government leaders dedicated to futureproofing the workplace. Supported the coalition to design and launch pilot projects focused on data gathering, skills development, workplace training. Created an open source playbook of insights and best practices within the community to share with other regions across the country.
Created and led a national network connecting backbone organizations from 28 regional tech ecosystems across the country. Members collectively supported the growth of more than 5,000 startups each year and collaborated to share specialized facilities, programs and resources with one another’s clients – market intelligence services, MoCap studio access, underground testbeds for mining technologies, global market access programming. Launched a Soft Landing program suite to help small firms enter new global markets for the first time.
Created positive change in the economy of southern Ontario, alongside a team of public servants. As Deputy Minister, led the Agency in providing more than $1.2B through 2,500 direct investments to businesses and community organizations, which leveraged an additional $2.2B from industry partners and created or maintained over 120,000 jobs across southern Ontario.
Built and ran a powerful coalition that included businesses across all sectors, industry associations, municipalities, universities and colleges to secure two-way, all-day GO Train service between Waterloo Region and Toronto – connecting Ontario’s leading innovation ecosystems to one another.
Worked to connect the right people, communities and assets to form and promote the idea of a supercluster; drive a marketing campaign and published research to to get people’s attention and promote the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor as one of Canada’s primary economic drivers that stands toe-to-toe with some of the world’s biggest economic regions.
Helped secure capital and operational funding for a shelter that was using an innovative care model to better support people experiencing homelessness and to help treat the root causes of the challenges they face.
Worked with the TTC and the City of Toronto to bring their first electric bus pilot project to live and accelerate their shift to electric buses.
Launched Canada’s “tech for good” movement, bringing 2,000+ people together to celebrate and collaborate on a shared commitment to leverage technology to create positive change. Led all aspects of program design, speaker recruitment, event planning, marketing and generating sponsorship revenue. Added a national Leader’s Prize competition with a $1M prize for the top team generating solutions to combat “fake news” using AI.
Deployed and managed $50M in federal investments to support small businesses and create youth employment as part of the Government of Canada’s pandemic response. Invested in regional programs to support businesses transform through digital tools and technologies to better weather the impacts of COVID-19 and prepare for future growth.