Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tech Sector Deciding How Best to Invest Expected Liberal Support

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tech Sector Deciding How Best to Invest Expected Liberal Support

Article excerpt

Tech sector deciding how to invest federal cash


TORONTO - Leaders in Canada's burgeoning technology sector could see a wave of new federal support from the incoming Liberal government, but that doesn't mean they all agree on how the money would be best spent.

About $900 million has been earmarked by Justin Trudeau for the country's tech community, and over the coming weeks some of the most prominent figures in the sector will begin to make a case for where those funds should be invested.

With only so much to go around, a clash of interests could be on the horizon.

"It's a rocking sector, and one we can lose quickly if we're not careful," said Bruce Lazenby, the president and chief executive of Invest Ottawa.

Lazenby heads one of many regional organizations throughout the country that function as a support system for technological growth. Like most of those organizations, Invest Ottawa could get a share of the new federal backing.

Over three years, Trudeau has committed to an investment of $200 million annually for local incubator and accelerator programs, which foster the growth of small tech startups in various regions of the country.

Another $100 million a year will go to the Industrial Research Assistance Program, which encourages innovation and small- and medium-sized businesses.

It's a welcome wad of cash for an industry that grew from the failure of former heavyweight Nortel Networks and a severely downsized BlackBerry (TSX:BB), two companies that faltered via their own missteps. This time around, some of the country's most prominent tech names want to ensure more than just a handful of giants rise above the rest.

Whether all of the money is going into the right places is up for debate for some.

Jim Balsillie, the former co-CEO of BlackBerry, has called for major changes in Canada's tech industry that reconsider some of the ways the sector invests capital.

"Let's acknowledge that what we have done over the past 30 years hasn't worked," he said. "We need to take a laser focus to having a complete infrastructure."

Balsillie wants to see Ottawa create an office dedicated to turning profits on Canadian technology, a move that would mimic the commercialization project launched by U. …

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