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Discovery 2013: Big Footprint, Big Ideas, Big Buzz

June 5, 2013

Eighth edition of annual conference and trade show sees record exhibition spaces, much-talked about keynote and widespread media coverage, while hosting Ontario Premier at one of her largest appearances to date

The motion cueing seat for flight simulator training systems by the The Advanced Cognitive Engineering (ACE) Lab at Carleton University, a popular stop on this year's Discovery show floor.

It's clear that in the classic dare to go big or go home, this year's Discovery conference chose to go big. The show floor was its biggest ever; big name keynote Peter Diamandis of X Prize and Singularity U imparted some big ideas on a big audience; big broadcaster BNN spent the whole day shooting interviews; and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne got to see first-hand just how big the innovation community is in one of her biggest addresses yet. This year at Discovery it seemed that BIG things grow in Ontario.

Big Footprint
With 360 exhibitors in 386 exhibit spaces, six theatres, five large showcase areas and areas for Ask an Expert and career sessions, the Discovery show floor really pushed the limits of the 200,000 square foot Metro Toronto Convention Centre exhibition hall. Popular stops on the floor included PaperTab, the fully interactive tablet with a flexible, hi-resolution 10.7” plastic display that looks and feels like a piece of paper; a 3D chocolate printer; a motion cueing seat for flight simulator training systems and oculus 3D headset roller coaster; the Gait Enable robot, a physio robot that catches you when you fall; and the QNX Corvette with digital dashboard.

Big Ideas
The big attraction this year was keynote speaker Peter Diamandis, noted futurist, X Prize founder and New York Times bestselling author who filled the hall with big ideas. He spoke on three topics: exponential technologies, crowdsourcing genius and the world of abundance.

“The difference between the linear line of humans and the exponential growth of technology is either disruptive stress or disruptive opportunity, depending on your point of view,” said Diamandis. “What OCE is all about is really making an investment in the disruptive opportunities side of this equation.”

Diamandis discussed many technologies that were showcased at Discovery, such as Artificial Intelligence, robotics, synthetic biology, 3D printing and digital medicine, referring to them as “exponential technologies” – technologies that are literally transforming the world and allowing entrepreneurs to have the impact only governments and large corporations could have 20 years ago.

He charged entrepreneurs in the room with creating what he calls 10 to the 9th plus companies – companies that have the ability to impact the lives of a billion people within this decade, saying: “Using these technologies we have today, as an entrepreneur, you have the power to touch the lives of a billion people. And if you have that ability, why wouldn’t you play at that level?”

Big Buzz
Following his address, Diamandis was interviewed by a BNN camera crew that spent the entire day on the Discovery show floor on day 1. Also snapped by the BNN camera were OCE President and CEO Dr. Tom Corr, the 3D Chocolate Printer, Interaxon, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle / Next Generation Flight, Solar Ship, the Gait Enable robot, Unified Computer Intelligence Corp (UBI) and PaperTab. Joining BNN on the show floor and in covering Discovery before and after the show were: Toronto Star, The Morning Show, itbusiness.ca, CHCH TV, TechVibes, and many community papers and blogs.

Big Support
Many of the hits BNN did were also stops on the Premier's tour. Still relatively new to the position, this was one of Premier Kathleen Wynne's largest events to date and she seemed very engaged with all the demonstrations and the innovators. The support she demonstrated for entrepreneurs and innovators was well received by the Discovery crowd, and was certainly a highlight for many.

“Our government is proud to support Ontario Centres of Excellence; it’s a vital part of Ontario’s Innovation Agenda,” said Wynne at the opening of Discovery. “We want to support our homegrown success stories. Because I know – I absolutely know – that some of you here today may have the next great idea up your sleeve… So enjoy the conference. I will be right there, on the sidelines, with all the passion, cheering you on and supporting you in any way that I can.”