Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Live Blogging @ iWDMS Part 4 - Day 2

Some rough notes on the final panel of the final day of iWDMS (with usual disclaimer for typos, etc.).

OMDC: Play
Panelists: Claudette Critchley, COO, Big Blue Bubble
Valerie Fox, Director, Ryerson Digital Media Zone
Ana Serrano, Founding Director, Digital Media Lab, CFC
Diane Williamson, President, Digital Wizards Inc.
Moderator: Kim Gibson, Program Consultant, Industry Development Group,  OMDC

This panel is basically an overview of some of the projects & organizations the OMDC is involved in - sort of a platform for promoting the organization and raising awareness of the types of things it funds, supports, etc. Linkages to industry, academia, media archives, think tanks, etc. Useful if you're thinking about getting involved with them or applying for one of their funding opportunities.

Claudette Critchley: Big Blue Bubble - est.2004 - closing in on 100th game developed, mostly mobile: cell phones, NDS and now iOS. E.g. Dark Incursion -3D game; Burn the Rope; Home Sweet Home - casual game series on multiple platforms. Some of the largest game companies in Ontario are in London (other than Ubisoft in Toronto). Conference coming up in November - half of which will focus on development. Minors in videogame development, lots of talent in Ontario to feed the industry.

Valerie Fox: Digital Media Zone (DMZ) @ Ryerson, est. 2010 - aimed at helping young innovators (students - current or former, and other) grow new business/markets (?) and create jobs. Undergrads, grad students and alumni (also entrepreneurs and people from other universities and colleges) with amazing ideas - DMZ helps to turn these ideas into young companies - giving spaces, support, etc. From 6 or 7 to 34 companies (note: only 6 out of 34 founded by women). the idea is that they can begin there and then grow up and out (leave the DMZ once they've become big enough to make it on their own).  Free space (and resources) in exchange for commitment to be open with ideas, findings - goal of the Zone is to foster collaboration and "cross-pollination" of ideas and expertise. Idea has to have a plan, prototype, commercial or social value. [Note: check out "Shape Collages"]

Ana Serrano: CFC Media Lab - currently located at MARS. est.1997. Was with Don Tapscott's think tank, brought in by Norman Jewison etc. to create an "electronic cottage" at the CFC originally focused on enabling technologies for film. Became a proactive initiative aimed at seeding talent (e.g. storytellers and other Canadian creatives)  who could work towards creating/anticipating/understanding/shaping (etc.) new ways of storytelling in/through interactive media & other tech. 200 alumni who have started their own companies (e.g. Stitch Media). Shifting their focus now that these activities are being taken up by other orgs (such as DMZ) - for instance toward curriculum development and collaborative university programs (e.g partnership with OCAD), as well as collaborating to produce company accelerators (re: commercialization of interactive products). Current expertise in building prototypes. What they're missing (or Canada is more generally) is getting those products marketable, globally. Focus on sustainable, viable business plans, etc. Take the risks the private industry can't bear. Some examples of their products: First user-generated content storytelling project - the Great Canadian Story Engine. Locative cloud music service. Game that uses brain waves to move the story along. The future is now.

Diane Williamson: University of Waterloo-Stratford, particularly REAP (research entrepreneurship acceleration program) - new program, external to course of study, paid research position drawing students from across disciplines. focused on interactive digital displays. Working with GestureTek [yay!], and others. Work with tech to find new uses, new market, and collaborate on new research [so...using students for R&D???].

Of possible interest re: industry/academia partnerships:
OMDC's Entertainment and Creative Cluster Fund
Research Grants

In all of these initiatives, female representation is above average but not great. 25% at Big Blue Bubble; 30% at DMZ (mostly producing content - only 6/34 companies started by women, only 10% involved in tech work); 30% at CFC - women are not starting their own companies out of there either; Waterloo research program - 50/50.

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