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How the City of Fredericton Has Embraced a Culture of Innovation 

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The City of Fredericton’s transformation into a thriving knowledge-based economy has made it a hot spot for innovation and investment.   

The city of Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick, has come a long way. Its population, talent base, knowledge economy, entrepreneurial spirit, and smart city infrastructure are all growing.

Historically, Fredericton was seen primarily as a government and university town. However, starting in the 1990s, the city recognized the need to diversify its economic base and foster growth other industries.

The resulting strategic investments and planning saw Fredericton evolve into a diversified knowledge-based economy, with significant growth in IT, engineering, environmental industries like geomatics and geodesy, computer science, including cybersecurity, and emerging biotech sectors. In the past decade, the city’s population has increased by 20,000, currently sitting at approximately 74,000 residents. If ever there was a city on a remarkable upward trajectory, it’s Fredericton.

Synergy between academia and industry

Because Fredericton is home to New Brunswick’s largest university, the University of New Brunswick (UNB), the city has always had a natural strength in knowledge industries. The evolution that began 30 years ago was a logical progression from these academic roots. As Fredericton looked to diversify its local economy this was the start of Fredericton’s knowledge economy. 

Fredericton has emerged as one of Canada’s most dynamic and successful small cities.

Post-secondary institutions, including UNB, St. Thomas University, New Brunswick Community College, and the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, collaborated with the City to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, attracting talent and investment. 

“The government and universities provide a stable base for Fredericton,” says Ken Forrest, the City of Fredericton’s Director of Planning and Development. “The knowledge industry creates opxportunities for commercialization, generating employment and economic activity. This growth has spurred the expansion of other sectors, like construction, retail, and services.”

Supporting and fuelling innovation

Fredericton has implemented smart city initiatives to drive ongoing growth and innovation. It was one of the first cities to provide ubiquitous free WiFi. And now Fredericton has invested in digital infrastructure such as a municipally owned fibre optic network, and physical infrastructure, including the Innovation District as well as large district for innovation and technology in the city’s uptown.

To grow its knowledge industry, Fredericton has launched programs such as Boost Fredericton (a living lab for civic innovation), Ignite Fredericton (economic development and startup support), and the Planet Hatch incubator (space and programming for new ideas). 

The benefits are widespread. The city offers a good quality of life, and its economy is stable and diverse. “Fredericton has emerged as one of Canada’s most dynamic and successful small cities,” says Forrest.

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