Commercialization from Coast to Coast

Posted on August 21 2014 | Author: Dave Smardon

Dave Blog map picOn June 20, 2014, the Office of the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, announced the fifteen organizations selected to receive funding from Industry Canada’s Canadian Accelerator and Incubator Program (CAIP). Under the program, selected incubators and accelerators can receive up to five million dollars per year.  The CAIP funding is part of the $400 million that the Federal Government had allocated to their Venture Capital Action Plan.

The Prime Minister’s Office provided the following quote at the announcement. “ It is critical for Canada’s small and medium-sized businesses to harness innovation and get their ideas to the marketplace so that they can grow, create jobs, and contribute to the economy. Accelerators and incubators have the experience, tools and know-how to help get small Canadian start-up businesses up and running. Our Government is pleased to be supporting private sector-led initiatives that further strengthen our venture capital market.”

Such support has been a long time coming. Over and over again we are reminded of the report from the 2012 Conference Board of Canada that listed Canada as a leader in research and innovation, but scored a “D” in commercialization of innovation. Canada was ranked 24th in the western world countries and was last of the G13 countries. While other countries have been plowing large sums of money into the support of incubators and accelerators, countries like The Netherlands, France, UK and Switzerland, Canada has been lagging behind. So, the news of the Canadian Accelerator and Incubator Program investment is most needed and therefore most welcomed.

Here at Bioenterprise, we are keenly interested in the agriculture, food and related sectors. In Canada, there has been very little support for agricultural commercialization on a national basis. In certain provinces like Ontario and Saskatchewan, efforts have been made to change this, but these are primarily provincially focused endeavours.  The new funding from the CAIP initiative ensures that this is about to change. (Bioenterprise is indeed, one of the fifteen organizations approved to receive such funding.) The importance of helping start-ups cannot be understated. They truly represent the future leaders of our economy. And, the importance of start-ups within the agriculture / food sectors are critical to Canada’s future prosperity. Why?

In Canada, agriculture and food represent 8% of GDP. That is 50% higher than in the United States and significantly higher than the European Union. The sector employs 2.1 million people, representing 1 in 8 jobs in the country.  It is THE largest sector in Canada. Furthermore, Canada is the sixth largest exporter of ag/food products in the world.  What makes this even more compelling is the fact that, globally, over the past ten years, the Food & Agribusiness category has delivered both the highest and the most consistent Compound Annual Growth Rate (8.7%) of any industry, outranking Financial Services (6.1%), Construction (6.8%), Telecommunications (3.1%), Energy (8.1%) and Healthcare (5.8%).

The importance of the CAIP investment to Canada’s agriculture sector is critical. This new funding will enable agriculture/ food based entrepreneurs and those engaged in the bioeconomy to capitalize on commercialization services that in the past might only have been available in Ontario and Saskatchewan. Now we will have a National commercialization engine that will assist companies from coast to coast.

It took time, but the future is certainly looking brighter for entrepreneurs!

Dave Smardon
President & CEO

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