By Timothy Loew, executive director, MassDiGI
When most people mention Boston and Montreal together, they’re talking hockey. Yet over the centuries, the two cities -- and more broadly, Massachusetts and Quebec -- have consistently grown commercial, educational and cultural ties.
To highlight those connections and prompt the development of new relationships, members of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI) team -- including board chair and Becker College President Robert E. Johnson, MassDiGI Managing Director Monty Sharma, and I -- were honored to join Governor Deval Patrick, Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Chief Executive Pamela Goldberg, and other members of the administration on the Montreal leg of the Massachusetts–Canada Innovation Partnership Mission. The trade mission, which we joined on October 10 and 11, focused on several key areas of innovation such as life sciences, clean energy, e-health, information technology and digital games.
Canada represents an important market for the Massachusetts digital and information technology sectors, and vice versa. According to the US Commercial Service, the information and communication technology sector in Canada includes nearly 32,000 companies that generate more than $155 billion in annual revenues. As a segment of the overall technology sector, digital games are a shared strength between Massachusetts and Canada, particularly within Quebec. With about 10,000 jobs, the province ranks third in the world for game development, trailing only California and Japan.
We visited with entrepreneurs, educators, students, and professionals at Concordia University’s Technology, Art, & Games (TAG) Centre; Execution Labs games accelerator; Maison Notman House; WB Games Montreal; Ubisoft Montreal; and Ecole de Technologie Superiuere (ETS).
Gov. Patrick joined us on our visit to Execution Labs, home to six start-up companies, where a crowd of young indie game developers showed off their games, talked about their opportunities and challenges, and discussed ideas for greater cooperation between the innovation ecosystems in Montreal and Greater Boston.
In fact, between Montreal's enormous studio complex and Boston's expansive entrepreneurial scene, not to mention the many world-class academic institutions, we have a great chance to position the Northeast as a direct competitor to the West Coast's Vancouver to Los Angeles corridor, when it comes to game development talent, resources, and ideas.
MassDiGI is now developing initiatives to support more student and faculty interactions, mentoring relationships, best practices, policy conversations, business development, conferencing, creative collaboration and community partnerships to further that goal. If we play our cards right, when you mention Boston and Montreal together next, you’ll be talking about a game on the iPad instead of on the ice.
The State of Play blog, organized by MassDiGI, features posts by digital and video game industry insiders writing about creativity, innovation, research, and development in the Massachusetts digital entertainment and apps sectors. MassDiGI, based at Becker College, is a statewide center for academic cooperation, entrepreneurship, and economic development across the local games ecosystem. Follow along @Mass_DiGI.
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