Another Amazing NATI Knowledge Summit

The NATI team did it again! They pulled off yet another high caliber, energizing and inspiring Knowledge Summit at the Sheraton in St. John’s. The speaker line-up and expert panel were amazing and the 160 attendees in the room finished the day with lots of ideas on how to inject innovation into their companies.

Duncan Stewart is Director of TMT Research for Deloitte Canada, a globally recognized expert on the forecasting of consumer and enterprise technology, media & telecommunications trends. Duncan’s “Predictions” presentation was a high-energy walkthrough of the hottest technologies that will be hitting the market – with some commentary on the technologies that won’t last into the future. Hint: Don’t get too attached to wearable technology for your head because it’s on the ‘it won’t last’ list. 5G networks, smart phones, IOT and AI were just some of the topics he covered. If you missed him at the Knowledge Summit and have an opportunity to hear him speak somewhere else, don’t miss it!

Next up was Jevon MacDonald and what a powerhouse of knowledge he was. Jevon is the CEO of Manifold and previously was the co-founder/CEO of which was acquired by He is co-founder of Volta Labs in Halifax and could write the manual on how to start a company and scale it. Jevon spoke of the importance of building tech companies in Atlantic Canada and making sure we have the technical talent to be able to fill the pipeline as the sector grows. Jevon was instrumental in getting coding into the curriculum in schools in Nova Scotia. After hearing Jevon speak, it only confirms that this is something we badly need in all of our schools in NL.  He’s an angel investor as well and spoke about how we need to change the mindset around looking at start-ups that have closed their doors as ‘failures.’ When investing, Jevon looks for founders who have experience with a previous company and sees it as a huge asset.

The only word to describe the panel discussion that followed on “Innovating in a Global Economy,” is ‘knock-out!’ Moderated by Ajay Pande, Chair of NATI’s Board of Directors, the panel consisted of Kendra MacDonald, Gerard Duggan, Emad Rizkalla and Catherine Courage. They shared their insights on why NL companies need to think globally when it comes to customers and many of them spoke about ways they create a culture of innovation in their own companies. Estonia and Israel came up, as two super innovative countries and the idea was discussed that NL companies need to think of themselves as being able to be the first to market with a particular innovation. We can be leaders in technology development.

Catherine Courage, VP of Product Design and Experience for Google Ads and Commerce with Google, delivered a very inspiring presentation on how to ignite innovation in a corporate culture. When you work at Google, possibly the most innovative company in the world, the sky’s the limit on their corporate innovation culture. Catherine’s insights were inspiring and at the same time, practical – and everyone in the room went away with ideas on how to infuse some Google-style innovation into their start-ups and organizations!

Up next was Lyle Wetsch, Associate Professor of Marketing at the Faculty of Business Administration at Memorial University. Lyle never disappoints. He’s a serious, leading-edge technology guru who has his finger on the pulse of the social media world. His presentation this year was “The 2017 Social Media World is Immersive and Engaging: Are you ready?” After hearing Lyle talk about the way that social media is changing the world and the incredible business applications that come with it, if you’re not ready, you better get ready.

Ken Singer, Managing Director of the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at UC Berkeley, and Chair of the European Innovation Academy wrapped up the day with a thought-provoking (and very funny) talk about the technology work and where we go next. So many important themes and ideas were covered. Perhaps one of the important takeaways is the advantage NL has when it comes to tapping into local talent in order to grow our advanced technology sector. Often we think that because we are in a small place, that it’s a disadvantage. Not at all! If we can collaborate better and make sure our post-secondary institutions are graduating students with the right skills, we can build a thriving tech sector here.

Ken made a good point that the opposite is true with the Silicon Valley. It is such a large market with so many tech giants competing for talent, it is difficult for companies to recruit top graduates.

We need to increase our appetite for risk taking and risk being wrong. As Ken said, in the start-up world, it’s inherent to risk being wrong. We’ll leave you with a great quote from him, “A start-up is an act of rebellion.”

There are 2 more days left in Innovation Week! Be sure to check out the events at: