April 2, 2019

Tech alliance deploys activist resource caucus to fight for Canadian Innovation MORNING BRIEFING | THE LOBBY MONITOR

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In the struggle to keep Canadian innovators from leaving the country, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) has deployed its new advocacy resource, a crowdsourced activist group, to push for fiscal measures that support the technology sector.

Traditionally … your advocacy would be you meeting with key MPs and political influencers. Now, I think it’s much more important to hit a broad cross-section of citizens across Canada and have them use their local contacts to message for you,” said John Reid, president at CATA.

“We’re going to do all the traditional things, but we now have people that have registered with us as an activist to help us take forward the recommendations and proposals that are within our advocacy campaigns.”

CATA developed its “Advocates-for-Change Caucus” two months ago. In that time, the group has grown to more than 1,300 individual members that can be mobilized for CATA’s advocacy campaigns.

“What we do is we provide them with a brief, and then we ask them to mobilize their individual resources to advance the message, whether it’s meeting with local press, meeting with their family, [or] sending it to their colleagues. It’s mobilization really at the local level. That’s what we’re trying to boost,” said Reid. “We all have Facebook pages, we have different resources.

We’re trying to mobilize those free radical resources people have at their disposition. More and more now, the individual has the power because of social media.”

One of the current areas of interest for the caucus is Canada’s business tax regime. The group argues that the current tax system only encourages Canadian firms to grow their technologies here, but too many of them then sell their technologies offshore because they lack fiscal incentives to remain.

Some experts agree Canada is experiencing a “brain drain” when it comes to innovation, with one study partly funded by Toronto-based tech firm Delvinia Interactive Inc. finding that as much as 65 percent of graduates in fields of science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) leave Canada for the U.S.

PwC released a report in 2018 which estimated that 77 per cent of Canadian technology founders have plans to exit their companies.

To change that, CATA members are recommending the federal government develop a tax commission that would focus on improving support for innovation.

Budget 2019 did eliminate the taxable income criteria in calculating the scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) tax credits for Canadian-controlled private corporations, which Russ Roberts, senior vice-president of tax, finance and advocacy with CATA, considers a positive step.

However, he argues more could be done to clarify the SR&ED program.

“We would like to see an independent, third-party group of experts focused on the way the tax system is set up and recommend how it could be better set up to encourage growth of our innovations,” said Roberts. “We should be looking at what mechanisms other countries are using versus our own for promoting their [information technology].”

The caucus is part of CATA’s move towards a “4.0 business model,” according to Reid. Industry 4.0 refers to the idea that the world is currently in its fourth industrial revolution, and the mobilization of CATA’s caucus is fully automated by software.

“I just push a button and say ‘this is what we’re doing. If you’re interested, opt in,’” Reid said. “I’ve been getting emails from people saying it’s a cool way of mobilizing the community.”

About CATAAlliance

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Opt-In: https://cata.ca/communities/

The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAlliance), Canada’s One Voice for Innovation Lobby Group and ‘political party’ for Canada’s tech industry, crowdsources ideas and guidance from thousands of opt in members in moderated social networks in Canada and key global markets. Supported by evidence-based research, CATAAlliance then mobilizes the community behind public policy recommendations designed to boost Canada’s innovation and competitiveness success.

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Contact: CATAAlliance at info@cata.ca, tel: 613-236-6550, website: cata.ca, tags: Innovation, Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Advocacy