If you were starting your business and there were no funding programs, what would you do? What would you create for programs if you were starting from scratch?
These are the questions asked to the group of founders and industry leaders at the roundtable on innovation, hosted by Volta, with Andy Fillmore (MP, Halifax), Matt DeCourcey (MP, Fredericton), Sean Casey (MP, Charlottetown), and Nick Whalen (MP, St. John’s East).
The task set out for the MPs was simple: talk to people in the oceans, tech, clean tech, and social innovation industries and get feedback on how to help Atlantic Canada’s economy grow. This initiative is part of the Atlantic Growth Strategy announced in July.
“We are traveling across the region to hear from these innovators directly because their on-the-ground experience gives them a keen understanding of what government can be doing to better support their work. Ultimately, we believe the success of our innovators will give Atlantic Canada a leading edge, and therefore we must do everything we can to make it as easy as possible for them to succeed,” Andy Fillmore, MP Halifax recognized.
Overwhelmingly, founders wanted to see funding programs that work at the speed of business. The needs of the business, they said, change in the 6 or 12 months they’re waiting for approvals. By the time the funding comes through, they need something different.
This has to do with the nature of many of the current programs – being very particular in their requirements, whether they be to hire a specific person or undertake a specific project.
There is a need to modernize the programs that support the startup community, for government to spend less resources on micromanagement and more on supporting the entrepreneurs using a holistic approach.
This also presents the opportunity to support companies beyond the R&D stage, but into commercialization, where many struggle and take on debt.
Above all, innovation leaders would like to see various agencies working together to ensure their programs complement each other instead of competing, and that the application process can be streamlined through this cooperation.
The findings from these meetings will be formed into three to four recommendations and delivered as a report to The Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.