In York Region, we’ve long lived in the shadows of our more populous, hipper neighbour, Toronto. But no disrespect. We love our neighbouring city. We’d be remiss to say Toronto hasn’t contributed to the success of York Region and its residents. But in the same vein, Toronto’s success and talent pool gains much from what York Region cultivates.

At ventureLAB, we always say it takes an ecosystem to build an entrepreneur. In York Region, we encourage innovation and bold thinking from a young age.

Some of our brightest future innovators call York Region home. There’s Aidan Aird from Markham, who has accomplished more than most at the ripe age of 17. For starters, he’s the founder of Developing Innovations, a youth-run not-for-profit to encourage young people to get involved in science, technology, engineering and math. In 2016, he was named a Global Teen Leader, and since 2012, he’s won numerous awards in both the York Region Sci-Tech Fair and Canada-wide Science Fair. Aidan, now in his first year of university, was selected as a 2017 Schulich Leader at the University of Toronto, winning a $100,000 scholarship. He was one of only two students from across Canada to receive this prestigious award. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In York Region, we encourage innovation and bold thinking from a young age. #YorkRegion @York_Link Click To Tweet

Then there’s the Classy Cyborgs, the FIRST LEGO League team of students from Aurora, now ages 13-15, who created the Treasure Box Braille Learning System, designed to teach blind children and adults how to read Braille. In 2015, their innovation was shortlisted from over 500 entries as one of the top 20 innovations from around the world for the Global Innovation Award. They’ve since won $10,000 from the Canadian Scholarship Trust for product development, participated in numerous speaking engagements, and are continuing to work with ventureLAB, Lassonde School of Engineering, York University and Deloitte to develop their prototype.

And then there are the countless programs, organizations, and camps in York Region that exist to build our innovators of tomorrow, like Logics Academy, Y2, Future Design School, FIRST LEGO League, makerspaces, and more.

What we’re building here in #YorkRegion is talent and purpose. @York_Link Click To Tweet

These young successes aren’t going unnoticed. Earlier this year, the Ontario government announced it was investing $127 million into a new York University-Seneca College campus, the only new university campus to be selected from a number of proposals across Ontario. The new campus, expected to open in 2021, will heavily focus on innovation, further supporting the young talent our region has to offer.

What we’re building here in York Region is talent and purpose.

We don’t expect that people will stay here for their entire lives. We want York Region youth to learn, travel and make an impact. We want them to gain influence and inspiration from around the world. And we want them to bring it back home. Because isn’t that what an ecosystem is about? An interconnected system. One that, perhaps not by chance, is commonly illustrated by a full circle.

Leave. But bring your knowledge back. Because our next generation of leaders and innovators were once in a position just like you.