Home » Industry & Business » Markham’s Innovation District Set to Expand Its Leadership Position Globally

The city’s extraordinary new employment site connects product and innovation by attracting high-tech collaborators and manufacturers devoted to future growth.

The momentum in Markham continues to build as it stakes its claim as a leading hub for high-tech innovation. Located in York Region at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area, Markham is Canada’s most diverse city and is home to Canada’s second-largest tech­nology cluster with more than 650 corporate head offices, 1,500-plus high-tech and life science companies and 240 international companies. With that success, and its sterling reputation as a business-friendly city as a foundation, plans are underway to grow with a renewed vision of what’s next.

What’s in the MiX?

The Markham Innovation Exchange (also called MiX) will play a key role in that future. It will be Ontario’s first innovation cluster connecting the dots between knowledge and production centres of varying scales all in the same place. It’s unlike any other industrial park in the country because of its expansive size (1,920 acres), scope and location in the core of Canada’s biggest economic region.

Despite pressure to use these lands for residential housing and other commercial uses, the City of Markham, is committed to fostering and attracting high-quality businesses. By staying true to its original vision, it will attract essential, high-value employment to the area.

A project like MiX has never been more important. As Canada leans into COVID recovery, it’s clear that gaps in the supply chain were exacerbated during the pandemic and need to be solved now. The MiX is part of the solution, as Joe Berridge, a highly regarded urban planner and partner with Urban Strategies Inc., confirmed in his July 2021 presentation, Where Innovation Is Realized. In it, he revisited Markham’s initial objectives and shared his findings before Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti and City Council.

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To ensure the MiX meets real-world innovation needs, more than 30 key innovation leaders were consulted, including those from sectors such as information and communications technology, automotive, medtech, real estate, , academia, and accelerators. “Based on the feedback, we confirmed the validity of the MiX concept and that it was indeed necessary,” Berridge concluded. “It’s an extremely viable project for Markham to undertake, based on the broad support from the sectors we canvassed about the need for a new tech district.” 

He also added that market conditions for the MiX are more favourable now than a few years ago. He asserted that the MiX not only plays a critical role for Markham but for the province, too. Mayor Scarpitti agrees and adds: “I actually think this is a Canadian play. The fact that we are seen in such high regard in relations to political stability, corporate reputation, all the ingredients and the companies that are here. This positions us well not only just locally and provincially, but for Canada.”

Future-proofing development and innovation

It’s clear the MiX can optimize Markham’s established innovation and tech ecosystem to create critical mass innovation. Made-in-Ontario productions can be supported where businesses can scale up quickly and test domestically to shore up supply chains. Here, modern facilities and innovation are designed to enhance connections, allowing like-minded disruptors to collaborate serving as a living laboratory to help ideas take flight.

Looking further ahead, Markham has struck an interdepartmental team to advance the MiX and its staff will report back to the committee on the next steps in fall 2021. It will also look at leveraging the green elements as an asset to attract impact-focused firms and sustainability as part of corporate policies, along with green energy zones that could be developed in the future. In Markham, the quest for innovation never rests.

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