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There were other business-related incentive tidbits in the federal budget

By Terry Lavineway

While last week’s federal budget contained widely anticipated changes to the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit, it also contained many other aspects of funding and incentives to encourage innovation and commercialization.

$400 million to help increase private sector investments in early-stage risk capital, and to support the creation of large-scale venture capital funds led by the private sector.

The government recognizes that access to capital for small and medium-sized businesses in Canada is both critical for growth and difficult to find. The venture capital and angel investor industries in Canada have been inconsistent for many years for many valid reasons. This budget commits $400 million to help address this problem. At the time of the budget, the government was not clear how, where or when to deploy this capital to incentivize private sector investments, other than to allocate $100 million for Business Development Bank of Canada venture capital activities. Certainly this amount of money is worth tracking to see how it will be deployed to help companies in need achieve their growth objectives.

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You really can achieve great things when industry, academia work together

As part of our ongoing series examining the ecosystem necessary to bring technology to market, we asked serial entrepreneur Jason Flick to share some of his insights. This is his next commentary and we welcome your feedback

By Jason Flick

According to Statistics Canada, expenditures by Canadian universities on research and development totaled $11 billion in 2009-2010, up about 0.8 percent from the year before. Spending by Canada’s top 100 R&D companies, meanwhile, fell 9.4 percent in 2010 to $9.4 billion. Compare that university R&D figure to total VC funding for Canadian companies in 2010, which was less than $1 billion.

If these numbers are a surprise to you then I hope I have your interest. What I will talk about here are the successful adventures I have had with my companies levering this vast pool of IP and perhaps suggest a way for you to see some alternate funding options for your venture.

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New OCRI CEO shares his vision: Part 1

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

It’s fairly safe to say that I struck a loud chord with my post of a few weeks ago that took Ottawa’s major economic development agency to task for preferring cheerleading from the sidelines to playmaking that would actually move the ball down the field. It wasn’t quite the best-read post of all time; it ran on American Thanksgiving, a day that saw our blog lose most of our south-of-the-border readers who typically account for about one-third of our daily visitors. But it did garner one of the highest PostRank scores of all time, a yardstick that measures levels of engagement — comments, tweets and the like — around posts. With the exception of comments from the new OCRI CEO and from the head of OCRI’s marketing agency of record — neither of whom is exactly what you might call a dispassionate observer — every comment, tweet and other reaction I received applauded my characterisation and concurred with it. Some went even further with my analogy, with, for example, one widely involved local angel investor telling me yesterday that far from simply standing on the sidelines cheering, OCRI has often stepped onto the field to take the ball away and out of play from entrepreneurs and others who are trying to score real goals for the technology sector in this community.

In a long telephone chat the day after my post ran, new OCRI CEO Bruce Lazenby didn’t argue with much of what I had written. Indeed, he told me, in the two weeks between the time he knew he was taking on the job and the time it was publicly announced, he conducted what he called some “mystery shopping,” asking people far and wide in the community what they thought of OCRI. “You must have been just appalled by what you heard,” I said, and he didn’t disagree. Nor did he disagree with my statement that OCRI was “a terribly tarnished brand.”

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The risks of being a nation of R&D junkies

As part of our ongoing series examining the ecosystem necessary to bring technology to market, we solicited this opinion piece from the dean of Ottawa’s technology sector, Denzil Doyle. We welcome comments on Denzil’s commentary.

By Denzil Doyle

Anyone who is involved in high technology in Canada would have to agree that the country has a very strong R&D lobby. Politicians and policy makers are bombarded with messages from both industry and academia on a daily basis saying that we need more of it, even though our incentives for doing it are already among the best in the world. And everyone in the debate is frustrated because they know that we are not getting the appropriate economic results from the R&D we are doing. As evidence, they point out that our economy is still too dependent on the sale of raw materials like lumber and minerals and that most of the technology that is developed for those activities tends to get developed elsewhere. They argue that if we were better at innovating, economic diversification would be automatic. And there is a broad consensus that R&D is the engine of innovation.

But a closer look at those incentives will reveal that they may be a little too focused on R&D and not enough on other things that go into the commercialization mix, like marketing (and particularly market research), selling, raising risk capital, and product management. The country’s two most popular incentive programs are NRC’s IRAP and SR&ED, but in order to use them effectively, a company must have a pool of its own cash to perform the other functions. And that money is hard to come by.

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Lean startup: It’s the Canadian way

As part of our ongoing series examining the ecosystem necessary to bring technology to market, we asked serial entrepreneur Jason Flick to share some of his insights on getting tech to market with lean thinking. This is the first of his commentaries and we welcome your feedback.

By Jason Flick

You would have to be living under a rock not to have heard about the billions in venture capital flooding into the Valley. Venture firms raised over $60 billion in Q1 2011 alone. Some companies are ramping from zero to billions in revenue in years rather than decades. Students fresh out of school are being offered six-figure salaries, four-month signing bonuses and iPads to come on board. (VentureBeat summed it up well in this recent story.)

Of course, these stories seldom report that for every company like this, there are 99 others that flounder and end up as large financial craters.

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Recent Comments

  • Final Fling in the news and media : [...] 10: Canadian marketing experts blog on Fling taking on the ultimate marketing [...]

  • The best of the web | How to Be Creative (and Why it’s Necessary) : [...] Moran recently likened the current state of content marketing to the early state of radio. Anyone with access to the tools could claim expertise in radio, but as it evolved, it was apparent [...]

  • Francis Moran : Glad you liked the piece, Paul. I don't think you've ever been a client, so you are not directly referenced in any of my examples. But these shortcomings are common afflictions among marketing companies, so the shoe probably fits. :) As for your question about the Ottawa tech community being more marketing savvy? Yes, I believe it is.

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