Today at Launch Academy mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe announced that, if victorious, his NPA government will establish a Mayor’s Innovation Council to attract technology investment to Vancouver, building on its plan to make Vancouver a global leader in digital technology.
Advising LaPointe on establishing the Mayor’s Innovation Council will be Leonard Brody, founder of social-news site NowPublic and president of Clarity Digital Group, which oversees online news properties.
According to LaPointe, the Innovation Council will advise City Hall on how best to attract investment to the City, as well as how to use technology to create the most open government in the country.
Membership in the Mayor’s Innovation Council will be established through an open nomination process, and its advice will be public and transparent, according to LaPointe. Techvibes had a chance to chat with Brody post-announcement and he expanded on the role of an innovation coucil.
“I think you have to have a bureaucracy that is the right people for the job,” he says. “There should be a seperation between the staff at city hall and the elected officials and they shouldn’t be politized. They should be the right people doing the job.”
“Part of the mayor’s Innovation Council will be taking a good, hard look at how the city provides services to its citizens,” Brody added. “This should be the most connected, digitally engaged city with its citizens.”
The Mayor’s Innovation Council will build on initiatives announced by the NPA to support Vancouver’s technology sector, including positioning the city as a first customer for local startups and one that would expedite trials for global technologies needing a city partner.
“The City of Vancouver must do all it can to attract investment to our tech sector,” said LaPointe. For instance, he says, the CEO of China’s Alibaba Group is mulling opening a North American office in Vancouver. “An NPA Council will fight to make that happen.”
On the topic of global companies needing a city partner, Techvibes asked Brody about the controversial topic of Uber in Vancouver and he shared his thoughts.
“As one of the most avid users of the service, it is ludicrous and embarrassing as to what been going on around Uber and I would argue anti-competitive. It’s a service that is for the good of the city and adds value to almost everyone in the food chain,” he said. “To take a approach of policing it and blocking it the way Vancouver has is ludicrous and anti-competitive”
“We want the city to be the first customer for everybody. This should be the most jurisdictionaly competitive city in the world,” Brody added. “Vancouver should be the first place companies go to trial and pilot these things because it brings investment here and brings the services here that make the city better for its citizens.”