The prestigious Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) has recognized the greater region of Montreal as one of the 21 Intelligent Communities of the Year (Smart21). The announcement was made in North Canton, Ohio as part of the semi-finalist unveiling for the 2014 edition of the Intelligent Community of the Year Awards. The nomination of Greater Montreal was submitted by TechnoMontréal, the information and communication technologies (ICT) cluster of Greater Montreal, in partnership with Montréal International, the Ville de Montréal, the Montreal Conférence régionale des élus (CRÉ), the Chambre de commerce du Montréal métropolitain and the Conseil des arts de Montréal.

Since 1999, the Intelligent Community of the Year Awards annually recognize the communities (cities or regions) that stand out in the development of smart cities. The evaluation criteria are composed of five recurrent themes (broadband network, innovation, knowledge workforce, digital inclusion and marketing & advocacy), as well as an annual theme, which for 2014 is "Community as Canvas," focussing on culture. Greater Montreal has distinguished itself by the quality and quantity of its ongoing digital development projects, as well as the predominant place that culture holds in the city.

"The advancement and potential of the Greater Montreal region as an intelligent city is not well known by the public at large. The city already has around twenty independent "smart" initiatives and several major projects are in the works. Since 2011, TechnoMontréal has brought together these initiatives and coordinated structuring projects within a development vision called Montréal Digital Metropolis that aims to propel the metropolitan region into the ranks of the major "Smart Cities" of the world. As part of this unifying program, our partners have put projects in place to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. It is thanks to all the contributors who believed in the positive outcomes of a digital vision for the metropolis that this extensive work is recognized today by the highest international expert in the field," stated Lidia Divry, Executive Director of TechnoMontréal.

In addition to its digital assets, the Greater Montreal candidacy benefited from this year's culture-based theme. "Creativity is an integral component of Montreal culture. The city is already recognized for the proliferation and quality of its artistic productions and has distinguished itself internationally more and more over the last several years in various digital niches like the video game industry, software production, citizen applications and digital arts. In addition, various players in the sector are currently mobilizing to present a Digital Spring in 2014 that will prove to be an unforgettable event," declared Marie-Claire Dumas, CEO of the Montreal CRÉ.

Greater Montreal is recognized as a city of knowledge that relies on its rich ecosystem of higher educational establishments and visionary companies. "This is an important distinction highlighting the expertise of our companies in the information and communication technologies field. This recognition confirms – if ever there still needed confirmation – that this city really does sit amongst the most advanced metropolitan regions in its application of new technologies. It is important to now maximize the repercussions of this announcement in order to attract new investments to this key sector of our economic base," added Michel Leblanc, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Chambre de commerce du Montréal métropolitain.

This distinction, granted by the ICF, is the first stage in a ten-month process that leads to identifying the seven most advanced cities in January 2014 (Top7) and ultimately in the nomination of the big winner in June 2014.