Home Interviews “Our ‘Innovation Pilot Program’ is something that can help Indian municipalities immensely”

“Our ‘Innovation Pilot Program’ is something that can help Indian municipalities immensely”

Jim Watson - Mayor of city of Ottawa

Jim Watson - Mayor of city of Ottawa

Mayor of city of Ottawa Jim Watson was in India on a 5-day tour (April 18 to 22), leading an important trade mission of 35 members, with an aim to discuss opportunities of business and draw tourists for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations. The visit that showcased collective strengths of Canada in economic development, technological advancement and academic competence included his trip to New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. During his stay in New Delhi, he interacted with a selected group of journalists at the Canadian Embassy. Here are some of the edited excerpts from the hour-long conversation that followed…..

  1. Throw some light on your India visit?

Since Ottawa is celebrating 150th year of Canada next year, the main purpose is to attract a large number of tourists to the event. In addition, the city also wants to showcase itself as an ideal destination to start a new business due to its sound infrastructure and enabling environment. The purpose is to sign agreements that we have in place but, in addition to that, to really plant the Ottawa flag in India which is a new market for us. Our focus areas are: technology, especially clean energy, tourism, and education. We hope to sign MoUs and contracts while in India, It should be a “win-win” partnership for both of us.

  1. Canada, Ottawa in particular is globally known to be an ideal business destination. Considering the latest boom in technology startups in India, do you have any plans to invite them to do business in your city?

Ottawa, as you have rightly said, is an ideal business destination. The city has more startups than any other city in Canada for the last four years. In addition, it attracts more venture capital than any other city in Canada. We offer red carpet and not red tape. The city is home to about 1,700 knowledge-based firms which employ over 65,000 employees. Hence, India tech firms should find Ottawa a wonderful platform to launch their businesses. Also, we hold high-level expertise in sectors such as clean tech, IT and electronics. The knowledge can be shared to develop closer business partnership between both nations.

We are familiar with the common problem a startup faces everywhere in the world. It’s about initial capital to start a business. Despite possessing a good idea, it struggles to keep itself afloat in the market. This is where government comes into picture and ensures every good idea has a strong support system for its side to become successful. Indian firms can benefit out of this substantially.

  1. What can Indian cities learn from Ottawa?

Ottawa’s ‘Innovation Pilot Program’ is something that can teach Indian municipalities a lot. Under this program, any startup company can use the infrastructure provided by the city as a demonstration site to try out its idea and test its feasibility. And, this is all for free.

  1. How Ottawa plans to celebrate 150th year of Canada next year?

The celebration will be huge. We expect about 1.7 million addition visitors. This is a huge number. Some of the events which are planned include finals of Red Bull Crashed Ice and Juno awards to be held in the city next year. Also, special exhibitions will be put up by the art institutions of the city, National Art Center is being renovated and will be ready by 2017, the Agha Khan Center for Global Pluralism will also be opening in 2017 along with science and technology museum.