The Future is Now: Innovation in 2021


On January 6th, 2021 we held our first event of the year – The Future is Now: Innovation in 2021 led by Global Futurist and business trends and transformation expert Jim Carroll. The keynote focused on highlighting broad trends as well as specific industry verticals to help our ecosystem innovate and prosper for the year ahead. Over the last 25 years, Jim has shared his insight from the stage with over 2 million people.

Attendees explored how the startup and tech community across Peel Region can align itself to a world that is increasingly connected, with technology determining the scope of opportunity going forward into 2021. Watch the recording below

We kicked off the event with some opening remarks by Pam Banks, Executive Director of Altitude Accelerator, City of Brampton’s Mayor, Patrick Brown and Shirley Speakman, Chair of Altitude Accelerator and a Partner at Cycle Capital.

We are very excited about the Altitude Accelerator’s launch in our growing Innovation District. The Altitude Accelerator is an integral partner in our downtown’s growing innovation ecosystem as we work towards building a suite of support for entrepreneurs at every stage of their journey. The RIC’s presence will contribute to the social and economic vitality of Brampton and advance our position as a hub of innovation,” said Patrick Brown, Mayor, City of Brampton.

Shirley Speakman announced that in 2021, Altitude Accelerator will have a new name and a new brand identity. “This change will help reaffirm our role within the evolving ecosystem. The organization will continue to serve our current clients and continue to run our current programs under this new brand,” Shirley Speakman on the Altitude Accelerator rebrand.

Jim Carroll joined us from his basement where he has his in-home green-screen studio. As a national speaker, this was a different scene than Jim was used to but it made a very clear indicator of the impact technology will have on us into the future.

Key Takeaways from the Keynote

Futurist Jim Carroll opened with an observation he used in a recent global retail conference: “COVID-19 is not a disruption. It’s an accelerant. It has magnified and accelerated everything that is good and everything that is bad.” Greg Petro, CEO First Insight

Questions to Consider

A few key questions were posed to the audience to help them get in the right mindset for the presentation.

How do we run our business better?

How do we grow our business?

How do we transform our business?

Trends in Disruption

Jim went on to outline 10 of his 24 trends in disruption as we move into 2021. Here’s an overview of the ten he covered.

  1. Multiple Trends Merge
  2. Every Industry Becomes a Software Industry
  1. Moore’s Law Defines the Speed of Change
  2. Science Exponentiates
  3. Edge Thinking Dominates
  4. Distributed Technologies Redefine
  5. Revenue Reinvents
  6. Incumbency Falters
  7. Ideas Accelerate
  8. Knowledge Exponentiates

View more:

Timeline of a Trend

Every trend that comes to our industry goes through a curve. There’s an innovation trigger, a peak of inflated expectations, trough of disillusionment, slope of enlightenment and a plateau of productivity.

With COVID, this curve has changed exponentially – it’s sped everything up. We’ve witnessed 10 years of change in 6 months, major trends accelerated, organizations learned something new about “speed”, agility and flexibility have become a necessity, business models shifted faster, an attitude that “it can’t be done” was shattered by necessity, decision making paralysis was obliterated, slow structure was put under a new microscope, old barriers to new ideas disappeared and “get it done” became the rallying cry. Now all that’s left is questioning how we sustain the momentum. We are on the edge of new opportunities.


What Jim Learned in 2020

  1. Speed matters – agility is everything. 
  2. Acceptance is key – a fuel for momentum.
  3. Optimism ruled – attitude was everything.
  4. Action mattered – indecision failed.
  5. Reality split – perspective counted.
  6. Resilience defined – reinvention was critical.
  7. Risk taking accelerated – failure was warranted.
  8. Change stuck – habits formed.
  9. Strategies shifted – an open mind defined.

“Some people see the future and see a threat. Innovators see the future and see an opportunity,”  Jim Carroll.

Panel Discussion with RICC Entrepreneurs

The discussion then shifted to a panel discussion with local founders Amir Azhari of AOMS Technologies, Jahanzaib Ansari of Knockri, Rohan Mahimker of Prodigy Education and Ajay Kochhar of LiCycle who discussed their startup journey and learnings. The panel covered topics including:

  • A look into each of the companies and their teams
  • How COVID has impacted their businesses
  • What the future looks like for them post-COVID
  • What the role of Altitude Accelerator was and how it impacted their business

Forecast 2021 with One Word

The session ended with each panelist giving one word to sum up their plans for 2021.

Resilience.” Jahanzaib Ansari

Opportunity.” Rohan Mahimker

Team.” Amir Azhari

Optimism.” Ajay Kochar

Reinvention.” Jim Carroll

It was such an honour having all of our speakers take part in this event.

About Us

For more information on Altitude Accelerator, click here.

For more information on the Brampton Innovation District, click here.

To apply to our Incubator, click here. Deadline is very quickly approaching!

Here’s what some of our panelists had to say about working with Altitude Accelerator:

“These incubators are key to the success of any startup. Founders don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle – RIC had a very important role in the growth of our company.” Amir Azhari, AOMS Technologies on how RIC helped secure their first round of funding and teach valuable skills.

“As engineers who came out of school without any entrepreneurship experience, connecting with our Entrepreneur in Residence Altitude Accelerator helped us learn about being an entrepreneur.” Rohan Mahimker, Prodigy Education, on the impact working with an incubator had on growing his startup.

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