I’m a student of urban planning and a MaRSian, so it should come as no surprise that an intense and somewhat obsessive curiosity about the connection between innovation, startups and cities has taken root in my brain.

But it’s not just me.

Defining, naming and ranking startup hubs have become key tasks for anyone engaged in building, supporting or investing in young ventures. No matter if you’re in Silicon Valley, Allee, Prairie, Roundabout or Wadi (are there more?!), there’s broad interest in building places that allow entrepreneurship and innovation to thrive.

A few months ago we published a blog and infographic titled Startup City – Take a tourof some of Toronto’s startup ‘hoods. The piece was hugely popular and marked the beginning of our exploration into the connections between city-building and startups.

Photo by: beautyredefined via flickr. Used under Creative Commons licensing

All great businesses begin with ideas, and as I began exploring the idea of a startup-friendly city, I was reminded of Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation and his fabulous TED Talk about the importance of creating the right environmental conditions for ideas to flourish and collide, thereby leading to innovation.

What Johnson stresses over and over is the importance of bringing diverse perspectives and backgrounds together to connect and share ideas. Ideas that, when stitched together, form incredible breakthroughs, disruptive technologies and the momentum required for commercialization.

Everyone has ideas that could change the world. What kind of space could exist that would support the type of idea exchange Johnson describes? Where is that place in your community?

If you’ve got suggestions for other topics or angles, or you’d like to connect about city-building and innovation, please get in touch! ahamilton@marsdd.com

Andrea Hamilton

Andrea is the former Partnership Manager for MaRS Data Catalyst. In her role, she helped launch the Innovation Data Partnership, bringing together all the regional innovation centres in Ontario to make better decisions using their data. See more…