Tech group responds to 2017 federal budget
By The Council of Canadian InnovatorsElectronics Engineering Supply Chain Tech group tech leaders
Canadian innovators – the tech CEOs and business leaders who are commercializing ideas and creating wealth within our borders – are pleased to see measures announced in this year’s Federal Budget that are focused on helping high-growth Canadian companies scale-up and succeed.
Far too often can ‘innovation’ become a buzzword in today’s new globalized economic reality, as governments seek to find new ways to increase GDP and revenues so they can sustain the critical social programs and public infrastructure so many Canadians rely upon. While it’s true that innovation can build a prosperous nation, this can only occur if national governments work hand-in-glove with domestic technology firms to help them grow through increased access to talent, capital and customers.
Over the past year, Ottawa has demonstrated a clear desire to work with Canada’s tech industry and CEOs to make sure they get their Innovation Agenda right. Budget 2017 lays out an ambitious agenda for the Government and signals their openness to embracing a new 21st century approach to growing the economy. Canadian innovators and tech leaders who have been engaging with Ottawa are cautiously optimistic that the measures announced in Budget 2017 will help Canadian tech firms grow, scale and reach new markets. Many details of the budget still require further consultation with industry, and Canadian tech CEOs and innovators look forward to being part of this continued dialogue with the Federal Government.
Access to talent
Measures such as the Global Skills Strategy (GSS), which introduces a new two-week turnaround time for tech-worker permits, and an ambitious new approach to Work-Integrated-Learning placements, show the Government is listening to the concerns of Canadian CEOs facing talent shortages. CCI considers the $7.8M in dedicated funding Ottawa has put behind the new Global Talent Stream a sign that they are aware this new process will be heavily subscribed to by tech companies and will require the staffing resources needed to succeed. By granting greater access to highly-skilled talent, the Federal Government is providing high-growth companies with the jet fuel they need to reach new global heights.
Access to capital
Innovators are pleased to see a new Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative announced in Budget 2017, increasing the amount of late-stage venture capital available to Canadian scaling companies. This injection of funding will help more Canadian-based technology firms grow and expand.
Innovators across the country eagerly await further details in the coming days on the $950M ‘superclusters’ proposal. Until then, CEOs will continue to call upon the Federal Government to invest this funding into the high-growth firms that are already commercializing and generating revenue. Ottawa will miss a great ROI opportunity if they spread this funding too thin in the interest of playing it safe. Supporting innovation is not about picking winners and losers, but it is about recognizing and doubling-down upon on our strongest sectors – which in turn will help them grow stronger and become more globally competitive.
Access to customers
Innovators were looking for further assurances in Budget 2017 that the Federal Government would become a stronger partner and ally in procurement and ‘Buy Canada’ approaches that help grow domestic wealth. CCI is encouraged by the $50M commitment to the new Innovative Solutions Canada program, modelled off the U.S.’s Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR). In coming budgets, CCI expects this funding envelope to be expanded.
Canadian innovators have worked closely on the design and development of the Accelerated Growth Service (AGS) and are pleased to see the current uptake the program has experienced. As AGS scales, we hope the Federal Government tailors this program more towards quality over quantity in the companies that are being on-boarded – a ‘more-the-merrier’ approach to this service will not drive innovation and growth, and could potentially overwhelm the service, rendering it useless to high-growth companies.
Tech CEOs look forward to further engagement with the Federal Government on these pressing areas. When a company has the backing, support and resources at their helm of their domestic government – like those in Israel, South Korea and the United States do – their ability to grow and succeed beyond their borders increases exponentially. This approach is needed by the Federal Government as part of their Innovation Agenda.
Canada’s intellectual property strategy
Canadian tech CEOs and business leaders are pleased to see the government is interested in creating a national IP strategy over the coming year; Their timing could not be more right. As the government moves to consult industry leaders and Canadian innovators on this new framework, at the core of these discussions must be helping Canadian firms protect their intellectual property, which is the wealth-generator in today’s modern innovation economy. Failing to prioritize this will cause whatever strategy the government adopts to miss the mark and impact Canadian innovation and our global competitiveness.