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McKenna’s bold vision featured nationally, cites New Brunswick’s “vibrant tech ecosystem”

Author: Hilary Creamer Robinson

Posted on May 9, 2023

Category: UNB Fredericton

New Brunswickers know that, in the words of Frank McKenna, we are “rocking the world of digital transformation” with initiatives like the McKenna Institute.

Recent news coverage shows the province is being recognized on the national stage for its world-leading work.

Institute founder Frank McKenna was recently featured by The Globe and Mail European correspondent and news veteran Paul Waldie, who highlighted McKenna’s uncompromising vision of New Brunswick as a global powerhouse in technological advancement.

At the same time, McKenna shared an op-ed in The Hill Times, a trusted Ottawa-based news source in Canadian politics and government.

McKenna told Waldie and The Globe and Mail that he is looking to do, “something that would be truly transformational.”

He sees the University of New Brunswick (UNB), home to Canada’s oldest English-language university, first engineering program, faculty of computer science and the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity, as the perfect cradle in which to nurse this revolution.

“What really sets UNB aside from other institutions,” he wrote in The Hill Times, “is its deep and purposeful commitment to supporting entrepreneurship and collaborating in-depth with industry to develop the talent and technology solutions of tomorrow.”

Energized by the support the initiative has garnered in 18 short months, McKenna told Waldie, “I just have this profound sense that it’s something meaningful and something that can create exponential growth. I just think we’re doing something profoundly transformational.”

In The Hill Times, McKenna cites New Brunswick as an early power player on the global tech stage.

“NBTel was one of the world’s most innovative telcos and had an evangelical commitment to its role as a catalyst of the New Brunswick economy,” he wrote.

He said the province is a “globally acclaimed early digital adopter, improving services and stimulating industries.”

In McKenna’s view, a solid technological bedrock on which to build the McKenna Institute’s thoughtful and fearless digital agenda.

“[New Brunswick’s] vibrant tech ecosystem has been turbo-charged by the creation of the McKenna Institute … partnering with industry, education, and social stakeholders to take a purposeful approach to building a world-class inclusive tech talent pipeline from K-12 to post-secondary and beyond,” he wrote.

“The philosophy is simple: if you build the best talent pipeline, industry will thrive.”

In less than 18 months, the institute has raised more than $50 million, with commitments to digital health, artificial intelligence, data science, digital agriculture, and digital entrepreneurship.

Look for upcoming announcements on diversity and inclusion, augmented reality, scholarships, rural digital strategy, gaming innovation, Indigenous partnerships, and global alliances.