JEFF HARRIS

VICE PRESIDENT, COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE, UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY PROPERTIES GROUP

THOUGHT

Leader

AN INNOVATOR OF INDUSTRY
“INNOVATION IS A MINDSET.”

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To me, innovation is more than process and action – it’s a mindset. Innovation exists to break limits and barriers and turn new ideas and concepts into everyday activities. It’s the engine that will address the needs and gaps in our city to drive economic diversification and growth. Innovation is never constant – it’s always adapting and striving to answer the question, “how do I do it better by doing it differently?” I appreciate this sentiment as a leader driven by process and continuous improvement. It’s a mindset that can be applied to everyday life with the intention of constantly striving to be better and do better.

DISRUPTING THE STATUS QUO
Creating a dynamic destination starts with a strong vision. Having a clear goal of where you want to go, while ensuring the people on your team are excited and passionate about the path forward stimulates creativity, which in turn leads to innovation. It’s important to build an emphasis around a highly collaborative and effective team for innovation to thrive.

I am thrilled to be a part of University of Calgary Properties Group (UCPG), the award-winning developer spearheading the revitalization of University Innovation Quarter (UIQ) located in northwest Calgary, Alberta. UIQ is in a vital position to support the ambitious pursuit of becoming a world-class innovation district.

Successful innovation districts thrive around place, connections, and collaboration to create a synergistic environment. With the Brentwood Light Rail Train Station (LRT) right at its doorstep, UIQ is uniquely positioned to bolster connections. Furthermore, the foundation for collaboration is rooted in the University of Calgary (UCalgary), a top 10 research institution driving the academic programming within UIQ.

The revitalization of UIQ is about reenergizing a former research park by integrating mixed-uses and designing a place that people want to be in. It’s about creating an inviting space for ideas to collide and shifting the way people currently innovate in isolation. It’s about job growth, economic diversification, and scaling UCalgary research. It’s about introducing more lab spaces to accelerate innovation and specialized hubs like advanced manufacturing and quantum research. We are making an investment in the economic prosperity of our city by nurturing the growth of world-class facilities, UCalgary programming, jobs, and research through better equipment and spaces that cultivate innovation from an idea to reality.

Pushing boundaries and disrupting the status quo to create something Calgary has never seen before is an exciting prospect for UIQ. Innovation requires disruption and it acts as a catalyst to propel industries and technologies forward by challenging process and different ways of thinking. It ushers a future defined by creative exploration for new ideas and the solutions of tomorrow.

BUILDING A LEGACY – THE FUTURE OF INNOVATION IN CALGARY
Some of Calgary’s biggest challenges right now is labour shortage, an aging workforce and a gap in skills. Providing innovative places to train and support entrepreneurs, startups and workers of all ages is a big opportunity for the area. UIQ will push conventional ways of research and thinking to inspire a district where people can innovate, work, live, and play. There is profound opportunity for UIQ to drive economic vitality on a local and national level.

Diversifying the economy, harnessing talent and capitalizing on research are important. What makes UIQ unique is taking bold and concrete steps towards those objectives by creating not just a place, but a community for all of that to come to life.

UIQ is differentiated by strong collaboration, relentless perseverance, and a clear vision to prosper. As someone who is always challenging the status quo, I am confident the revitalization of UIQ will strengthen connection in all aspects – modes of transportation, collaboration between businesses, enhanced greenspace and amenities, and rich hubs of intellectual activities, making it easier for ideas to generate, research to take place, innovation to flourish, and world-solutions to emerge.

The challenge with UIQ will be anticipating the future. Our job is to build a landmark destination that not only works today but also in 30 years from now. We are taking the bold step towards building a legacy Calgarians will be proud of, and this is just the beginning.

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