Meeting the Canadians

Last night was a UK Trade & Investment and Interactive Ontario double header in the Watershed, Bristol. 11 Canadian companies from Ontario came to meet around 36 South West companies.

The proforma presentations included an overview of the Canadian & Ontario business environment from Ian Kelso (IO & Canadian Interactive Alliance, CIAIC), an introduction to the Canadian companies from Jay Goldman (Radian Core Inc) and a quick spin around the SW digital media landscape from Mark Leaver (South West Screen).

Adam Montandon (HMC) fresh from their recent link up with Two Four Group (another South West success story) gave an overview of their many wild projects that gave a lively, enthusiastic and knowledgeable insight into his world of very commercial projects that are also great fun!

We then adjourned for the serious business of networking. I was there principally to build links and opportunities for Heliotrope (disclosure: I’ve written their business plan and am coordinating their funding, partnerships and client strategies). The folks from IO were keeping everyone to 15 min speed networking so lots of follow up emails and skype chats to come.

First up was a discussion with Jay Goldman, although a little outside their normal scope we had a very productive discussion around design, integration, platforms, scalability, time to market and how Radian Core work with partners. In fact, because Heliotrope is a little outside the normal it could be sufficiently interesting and challenging to excite.

I then caught up with Sabine Steinbrecher (Learning Library) and we discussed her compay and their e-learning, publishing and strategies for addressing Canadian schools, education boards and ministries.

While catching up with Peter McCowen (AIM) about Bristol projects, I learnt of another UK company that may be a useful partner / collaborator.

A quick chat with Michael Gibson (Zapdramatic) suggested that their very innovative soft skills games were not quite the right match for Heliotrope. However, we did have a very enjoyable discussion around the complexity of design involved in such morally and ethically delicate areas so that young people can learn to appreciate their taken-for-granted assumptions and how to recognise them early enough to avoid compromising situations later on.

I then met Rachel Noonan and Karen Bradt (Canadian Film Centre) about the many innovative programmes, support and projects they’re involved with. In particular their Media Lab and wide ranging R&D projects is one to look into more closely.

On the way out I had a quick chat with Julia Bennett from White Pine Pictures, there wasn’t a direct link with their documentary making expertise but a great way to round out a busy and productive evening.

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