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Jim Balsillie on Innovation in Canada

Yesterday’s Globe and Mail published an op-ed by former BlackBerry co-CEO Jim Balsillie on Canada’s innovation economy.   Titled “A Tale of Two Economies and Two Headlines“,  Balsillie makes the case for why Canada needs different infrastructure to support commercialization of intangible products such as intellectual property – infrastructure that is different from that required to support resource and mineral commercialization.

He writes:

“In the past 32 years, growth in Canada’s commercialization of our ideas, often measured by “multi-factor productivity,” has been virtually zero. During that same time, U.S. multi-factor productivity has soared.”


“Our schools and incubators need to teach and value commercialization better. Our public institutions need a policy plan for Canadian ideas commercialization. Existing federal and provincial industrial programs need to invest in it, and public-private sector collaboration structures need to begin addressing it on a priority basis.”

Over the last few weeks I’ve met with many entrepreneurs and investors as part of my early work within the Canadian innovation economy on behalf of Microsoft.  Many bemoan the gap, noting that at the Series A financing round, most Canadian startups either flame-out, sell-out, or move-out — and “out” means to Silicon Valley where the innovation ecosystem is more fully developed than it is here.

What’s your point of view?  If you run a startup in Canada, what are the most pressing issues confronting you?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, on twitter, or via email.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • kirsten burnett March 4, 2015, 2:53 pm

    as new startup in canada especially in this day and age where your startup may have been done somewhere else in the world. But you need to have something that splits you apart from your competeition or other startups. you must invest in your community no mattter how small you may be because every little investment will one day have a pay off in your success

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