May 4, 2012 | by: Heather Boyd-Kinnie



04 MAY 2012 08:54AM

The spotlight was on Jim Carroll as he aggressively paced the stage at the Fredericton Convention Centre, gesturing emphatically while citing statistics and quotes in a dazzling manner. The renowned futurist, however, spun the metaphorical spotlight on the audience.

“You need to think bigger,” he said.

There was no rest for the weary in a night that celebrated innovators from New Brunswick’s information technology sector. The best minds in the industry were challenged to continue to build on their success in a world where the rapid pace of change can’t be overstated. There’s no stopping or you’ll be left behind.

Carroll spoke to a crowd of more than 300 Thursday night during a keynote address at the 14th annual KIRA awards. He offered three simple words to help demonstrate the current climate of innovation: speed, scope, opportunity.

Waiting for the right time to move forward could be fatal, he said, adding the market demands creativity at a level never seen before.

“The future belongs to those who are fast,” Carroll said. “The time to be focused on innovation is right now.”

Emphasizing the need for speed, Carroll said that 60 per cent of Apple’s revenue comes from products that weren’t in production four years ago. Half of what is taught in the first year of any science degree will be obsolete when the student graduates, while 65 per cent of young children will grow up and get jobs that don’t exist today. The list goes on, and IT is at the forefront.

“Silicon Valley controls the speed of innovation,” he said. “The speed in which this is evolving is staggering.”

Seemingly timeless industries are already being revolutionized, he said, and the pace in which it occurs will only increase.

For Alan Gray, account executive at Bell Aliant and KIRA co-chair, the province has already demonstrated that competitive edge.

“I think it comes down to the entrepreneurial spirit we have here,” said Gray. “You’ve got pure programming-type people and you’ve got these business people who have great minds for small companies to start them and expand. When you bring those two together it works so well in New Brunswick, and it has become an economic driver.”

The flourishing IT industry in the province is worth $2.2 billion annually through 650 firms, which employ 30,000 New Brunswickers. Premier David Alward said it has helped in the province’s bid to re- energize the provincial economy.

“We see, as I said before, innovation as rocket fuel for our economy,” Alward said to the crowd.

“We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the NBIF (New Brunswick Innovation Foundation) and other industry leaders.”

And industry leaders were rightfully recognized, including Enovex, a company that develops gas production absorbents, that took home Most Promising Start-Up.

“One of the beneficial things of starting a business in this province is the selfless transfer of information,” said CEO Scott Walton, thanking his mentors.

Walton talked about the thrill of being an entrepreneur. “The true value is the journey, not the end of it.”

Propel ICT, a non-profit information and communication technology association, received the Community Engagement Award for its work in the Saint John community.

“It takes a village to make a start-up,” said Trevor McAusland, executive director, during his acceptance speech.

C-Therm Technologies won the Export Product Service Award, while Service NB Health and the NB Internal Services Agency won the Technological Advancement in Innovation Award in the public sector and T4G took home the same honour for the private sector.

Finally, Gururaj Deshpande and Gerry Pond were handed the Special Recognition Award for establishing the Pond-Deshpande Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of New Brunswick.

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