Letter of support to Minister Flaherty: Management institute at WLU for the growth of globally competitive technology industry in Canada
January 27, 2014


The Honourable James Flaherty
Minister of Finance
Finance Canada
Minister's Office
140 O'Connor Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G5

Dear Minister Flaherty: 

The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) supports the proposal by Mike Lazaridis and the Wilfrid Laurier University School of Business and Economics to establish a management institute at the university to support the growth of globally competitive technology industry in Canada. We encourage the Federal Government to provide matching support for Mr. Lazaridis $20 million contribution to this initiative. 

It is increasingly clear that for Canada to compete at the highest level in the global technology industry, our companies need to have access to a deep pool of world-class management talent.  Many of the challenges that we currently face growing promising technology start-ups into globally competitive companies can be attributed to shortages in technology business leadership capital. 

Over the years, Canada has made significant investments in science and technology research and education to support the growth of its technology sector.  The Federal Government has also developed innovative ways to provide financing for technology companies.  CATA believes that it is now time that priority be given to ensuring that we have the management talent and knowledge to grow and sustain these companies.  

We are now successful in starting many small companies and growing them to a certain scale but then, with high frequency, they move to other countries and/or are sold with the benefits of further success not reaped by Canada and Canadians.  Our objective is to reverse this tide and, specifically, to develop the leadership capacity that will support the development in Canada of sustainable, globally-leading technology companies.  Further, it is our ambition to create a technology business ecosystem in Canada that will attract capital and technology from around the world to mobilize emerging and exciting new technologies in the nano and quantum spheres.  Mr. Lazaridis with Doug Fregin has created Quantum Valley Investments, a $100 M venture capital pool to ensure that Canada has the capital in place to support this ambition.  It is now time to ensure that the leadership talent is also in place. 

At a local level, Mr. Lazaridis has made significant investments in creating a one of Canada’s foremost technology ecosystems.  He has supported the creation of several major scientific research institutes in the Waterloo Region and is a key player in its venture capital industry.  His support for the establishment of this Institute stems from a recognition that an adequate supply of well-trained management talent is the missing piece in ensuring this ecosystem is fully capable of generating and growing global technology enterprises.  

While this Institute will be an important component of the technology ecosystem in the Waterloo Region, it creation will have a national impact.  It will be designed to serve as a hub for the development of education and research focused on the needs of the Canadian technology sector.  With linkages to other leading business schools across Canada and around the world, the Institute will focus on accelerating the management education and knowledge needs of the current generation of Canadian technology executives and on developing globally leading programs and curriculum to create the next generation.   

Waterloo and Laurier University are the ideal locations for this Institute. The Waterloo region is one of Canada’s technology success stories. It contains a number of major research institutions, over 1000 technology firms and one of Canada’s top engineering and computer science universities.  It is widely recognized as having Canada’s most dynamic environment for start-up companies.  Companies in the area attract capital from venture firms across Canada and the US. The Region also has one of the strongest angel networks in the country.  It is a living laboratory for developing management education and research focused on the technology industry. 

Laurier’s School of Business and Economics is one of Canada’s leading business schools and also one of its largest. The School has strong connections in the Region’s technology industry and has produced a number of its leading technology executives and entrepreneurs.  The School’s programs and research have a strong connection to the local technology sector.  

CATA urges the Federal Government to support this initiative. We see it as it see as a critical initiative in the context of our Innovation Nation Campaign designed to boost Canada’s competitiveness and innovation rankings. 

Sincerely yours,

John Reid
President and CEO
Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance