“Canada's future competitiveness depends on a digital skills strategy that goes beyond platitudes like ‘IT is cool,’" he wrote in an email “The strategy must be highly targeted, and deal with the real concerns of career choosers. It will be truly groundbreaking if this conversation becomes part of the election campaign.”
While some want to hear how the leaders would build a digital strategy for the country, Duncan Stewart, director of Deloitte Canada Research for technology, media and telecommunications, isn’t one of them.
Promises to bring minimum broadband speeds to every household within a certain time period, as some countries have done, “may be good politics, but it’s not good policy,” he said. Inevitably megabytes become the focus of the debate, not substance.
If fact, he adds, debating the intricacies of a national digital strategy is too complex for a short election campaign.
What Stewart does want parties to detail is what they’d do help Canadian innovators raise early stage money to nurture young companies.
There’s a lack of access to venture or angel funding of between $1 million and $2 million, he said, meaning some promising companies can’t get off the ground. So, for example, he’d like to hear debate on whether Ottawa should adopt British Columbia’s tax credit for angel investors.
In short, “what would a government do to encourage Canadian innovators to leave universities to start up companies, to raise money to become bigger companies and to stay in Canada?”
The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA), an industry group, says politicians should be explaining how they’d impose a more rigorous way to measure the economic success of government programs.
In particular, it says the scientific research and experimental development tax credits under the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) aren’t tied tightly enough to commercial outcomes.
“This has been under review for two Ministers, and we still have no commitment to getting things done,” wrote Barry Gander, CATA’s executive vice-president.
“We need to get the government focused on commercialization rather than research, so business can become as competitive as possible.”