It occurred to me as I watched another western Canadian technology firm head down to spend 42 hours in the valley ecosystem, that there is an unfortunate analogy with the Canadian Oil and Gas industry. Instead of bitumen, unprocessed heavy crude and natural gas, we are speaking of intellectual property, human capital and innovation moving south. And instead of moving to the Gulf refineries, we are “shipping the crude” to that other refinery – Silicon Valley.
Let’s build the technology equivalent of upgraders and refineries right here. There is no reason that we need to go south in a world as connected as ours. We are sending our talent, intellectual property, unfinished opportunities, highly skilled jobs, diversification opportunities and tax dollars south by doing so.
Locally, I look to the A100 (and the AEC backed Accelerate Fund) and its ecosystem; StartUp Calgary and its university allegiances. In the east we have the superb iNovia team, OMERS and the Canadian Council of Innovators; I look to local companies like Benevity (Global sales and US funded but staying put) headed by the indefatigable Brian deLottinville as excellent examples of a Canada first approach.
Our small economic size means the need for connectivity, efficiency and speed. We have that in spades. Its time for thoughtful government macro policy, broad based entrepreneurial mentoring and capital maturity to think beyond – to modernize an old Canadian chestnut, “hewers of wood, drawers of water and writers of code”.
Time to put the shovel in the ground.