The Mobile Experience Innovation Centre (MEIC) held their inaugural annual general meeting this week in Toronto.
MEIC began as a research project in 2007 at OCAD University and has grown now to be an independent, non-profit organization that fosters research and industry development of mobile technology and media in Ontario.
The meeting was precided by the incomparable and apparently never-exhausting Sara Diamond, OCADU's president. She clearly takes a particular interest in the area based on her ongoing championing of MEIC and her regular presence at mobile events.
Over the years, MEIC has lead research projects, sponsored events, and supported start-ups. But it now appears poised to grow into a major force in the Canadian and international mobile sector. Other than a vision to support the sector in Ontario, MEIC has the required level of partnerships (and funding) from a variety of government, education, major corporations and start-ups to actually achieve their goals.
Personally, I'm glad to see MEIC's continued presence. I've been attending MEIC events for over a year as they have consistently offered great speakers and timely topics. There are other tech groups that meet in Toronto, but I've found that they are usually an excuse for non-stop schmoozing with no original discussion and often not even a speaker. So I have found MEIC refreshingly relevant and focused.
Socially and economically, I believe MEIC is direly need to foster Ontario and Canada's tech sector. With the lure of the larger markets and buckets of VC down south and successive indifferent governments, Canada's tech sector has not been all it could be. Mobiles really are the next BIG thing, so it is important we create an enviousness that allows academic research to see fruition and for innovation to develop and remain local.
MEIC has already had some success through their mentorship and incubator programs. The AGM offered presentations by two success stories: Guardly and Normative Labs.
Guardly has launched its mobile, security application on iPhone's App store this week (as covered by a good article in TechCrunch, Guardly Watches Your Back, From The Mean Streets Of Toronto). Guardly, in a nutshell, facilitates coordination of officials and friends in the event the mobile user has an emergency. As a parent with a daughter that will no doubt have a mobile device before even reaching highschool, I think there is tremendous value for such an application. I can also see it being popular with caregivers of seniors, the seriously ill, or cognitively disabled people.
Normative Labs also presented on their findings based on their mobile applications the game Red Rover and an app for public-monitoring of surveillance. They found some interesting observation about how people document their world and the role of game-playing in facilitating location-based app usage.
In addition to supporting start-ups, MEIC also has efforts to support the larger mobile sector. One such effort is a report on the status of Ontario's mobile sector for Canada's trade commissioners - which will be of interest more locally as well. More individually, they have events planned for skills training, such as workshops and bootcamps (not cheap, however), and conferences that examine contemporary industry trends and research.
Several working groups were set up at the AGM to cover mobile-related policy, national and international outreach, trends, programs, and start-ups. I signed up for a working group to foster and promote academic and industry research. My research clearly fits well with the goals of MEIC and it's great to have a venue for academic insight to reach beyond the fabled ivory towers, as well as to provide ties to industry that can make use of such research.
I'm hopeful that MEIC will be prove beneficial personally and provincially!