I am fortunate to have been deeply involved in innovation and entrepreneurship throughout my career, working with CANARIE, at Newbridge Networks, Bell Canada and most recently at Innovapost as well as consulting academic, private and public venture capital firms. In addition, through my work at Bell Canada’s Innovation Centre program I was able to involve key innovation partners including Terry Matthews and his Wesley Clover group of companies.
Back in December 2009, I was trying to determine the best way to continue helping develop our country’s innovation capability in a collaborative manner. It was at that time that I created the LinkedIn group “Addressing Canada’s Innovation Gap”. The gap I had identified was a cultural one. My goal was to share success stories and efforts underway at regional levels to be supported and leveraged to help drive innovation efforts nationally. Today, we have a thriving community of more than 650 innovation subject matter experts in every province across Canada from academic, research, private and public sectors. In addition to building a deep innovation network, through this community I was able to co-author a response to the Federal Review Panel on how to support business-oriented R&D.
Before my group and over time, other peer communities developed, each addressing another key element of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. I wanted to act as bridge to support those communities, and as such, developed great relationships with peer groups like Startup Canada, The C100,
Canada Angels, Technology Transfer, North American Sustainable Innovation and regional hubs such as Invest Ottawa, MarsDD, Tech South East, BCTIA, Cybera, as well as technology focused groups like CATA, Cloud Ventures and CleanTech North. Each group has a diverse community focused on key elements unique to them, but also working in concert in a grassroots environment with open communication and deep expertise.
This is but one step along this journey and the next critical one is the development of a thriving start-up ecosystem. Innovation has been identified many times as a critical element to the success of any start-up enterprise but the term is broad and oftentimes misused. Throughout the Startup Canada Campaign, each month we will host a guest blogger from our LinkedIn group in different parts of the country to discuss the various opportunities innovation can offer to advance entrepreneurship. Some of the subjects we will touch on include business topics such as commercialization, technology levers such as cloud innovation, research and academic impacts from B&RD investments, technology transfer, and benefits derived from social innovation.
I am excited to continue this collaborative effort with Startup Canada and look forward to helping support the development of its whitepaper in the fall.
Innovation & WIRE Director