Premier's Innovation Awards
Welcome to the 2009 Premier's Innovation Awards.
Thank you, Ilse Treurnicht, for hosting us once again at MaRS this evening.
Thanks to all who helped choose our award winners.
And a special thanks to our distinguished award presenters: Arlene Dickinson, Mike Lazaridis, and Dr. John Evans.
It's great to be here tonight.
Thank you all for coming tonight and for supporting our award winners.
Tonight is a celebration of innovation and creativity -- of what we can do when we put our minds to it.
Thanks to all the companies that have inventions and products on display here tonight.
You're doing great work.
And I especially want to welcome the students who are here.
It's been really exciting for me to take a look at your inventions.
I'd also like to congratulate Carlie Scalesse, who won two prizes at the International Science and Engineering Fair last year, when she was a student at our own London Central Secondary School.
Congratulations to you, Carlie, and to the students from Sheridan, Waterloo and U of T for all your hard work.
And to all our researchers and innovators, regardless of your age or experience: keep doing what you're doing -- keep being dogged, determined, driven and above all, restless.
Thomas Edison put it best when he said:
"Restlessness is discontent. And discontent is the first necessity of progress.
Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I'll show you a failure."
Maybe that's a little harsh.
But the point is well taken.
We must never accept the status quo -- even one of our own making -- as the end of progress.
Progress never ends.
And besides, the world hungers for it.
We all want a better world for ourselves and our children: a world without war, without pain, without poverty, without hunger, without injustice, without climate change.
We want a world in balance.
We want a world built on peaceful, sustainable prosperity.
A world where all of us, everywhere, have all we need to lead full lives rich in opportunity and freedom.
If we can imagine that world, then we can make it a reality.
Getting there means staying restless.
Camille Jénatzy was restless.
He was a Belgian inventor who designed a racing car that he called "La Jamais Contente" -- or, in English, "Never Satisfied".
Jénatzy believed he could set a world record for land speed in his car.
And he did.
He was the first person to break the 100 km/hr speed barrier.
What is truly remarkable is that he set that record in an electric car.
And he set it 110 years ago!
Not bad at all.
It's that same restless drive to innovate that has given us the solar racing cars we see on display here.
Our award winners tonight are blessed with that restlessness that characterizes all our great innovators.
They keep pushing out the envelope of understanding.
They are each, in their own way, helping to shape a better world.
So I say to our award winners: Thank you so very much for your dedication to your work and to making our lives richer.
And thank you to your families and friends who have supported you, encouraged you, sustained you and loved you as you pursued your goals.
You are making Ontario stronger.
You are helping Ontario become a hot bed of innovation.
And that's a good thing because, in these challenging times, our ability to generate jobs and investment depends greatly on creating economic value through innovation.
That's why our government has a $3.2 billion plan to support our innovation agenda.
It's why we recently launched our $250 million Emerging Technologies Fund to drive the development of new, clean and green technologies.
It's why, in the same vein, we are moving ahead with our Green Energy Act to launch an explosion of investment in new made-in-Ontario technologies harnessing energy from the sun and the wind.
And it's why we are cutting business taxes and moving to a Single Sales Tax to level the playing field for Ontario businesses so they can compete with the 130 other countries that are already there.
Lower business costs mean more money to invest in research and development, which means more jobs on the way for our families.But it's not just about making it easier for innovation investments to take hold, it's also about nurturing our talent.
And speaking of talent,
Just last week, Eric Yam, a Grade 12 student at Northern Secondary School won the grand prize in the NASA Space Settlement Competition for his design of an orbiting space colony.
He's the only Canadian to win in the contest's 16-year history.
You know one of the reasons why Eric won? Because he didn't give up.
He entered the contest before, didn't win, kept honing his idea and persevered to the end.
And now he'll be presenting his ideas to the world's top space experts at a conference in Florida later this month.
Lucky for us, we've got a lot of talent in the Ontario pipeline.
And we'll keep finding ways to nurture it.
So that we'll have more innovation successes.
Just like the ones we are celebrating tonight.
You know, one of the great things about talent is that it attracts more talent.
And talented, creative people are drawn to places where innovation is nurtured and celebrated.
And global companies target those same places to make their investments in research, development and high-end manufacturing.
That is what we want -- what we need -- for Ontario.
You and I both know: The future belongs to the places that can harness the creativity, skills, knowledge and drive of their people.
Those are the places that will compete, win and thrive in a new, more sustainable global economy.
Which means that in Ontario, we've got to be first and we've got to be fast -- first to develop and fast to market.
Tonight's awards showcase our innovation and celebrating our researchers for the world to see.
And I know they will inspire others who may be contemplating new ideas of their own.
With human creativity, anything is possible.
It's about using our natural strengths and capitalizing on them.
And we've got a lot going for us in Ontario: a strong, creative environment, a diverse society that connects us to every culture and every economy, a highly skilled workforce, world class institutions of higher learning and an internationally recognized research community.
Together, through innovation, let's seize the global market opportunities that will create the type of jobs and the kind of world and province we want to leave our children.
Again, to all our innovators, young and old alike, thank you for your restless pursuit of better ideas, for a better world.
In the words of that great American biologist, E.O. Wilson:
"You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best -- however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give."
Congratulations to our winners.
We are all very proud of you.