Mid-mandate budgets have a reputation for being underwhelming. While Budget 2018 is prudent, it reiterates that the federal government understands that Canada’s future rests on knowledge, innovation and highly skilled women and men.
Invest Ottawa, lead economic development agency for Canada’s Capital, is committed to helping realize Ottawa’s full potential as a globally-recognized, innovative and future-ready city, and the best place to work and live.
We believe strongly that investments in entrepreneurship and innovation are essential to realize this vision, and deliver long-term benefit to Canadian business, government and citizens. We are delighted to see the Government of Canada shares in this vision. Budget 2018 included many exciting initiatives that will propel our country forward. They will help increase our innovation capacity as a nation, and Ottawa’s contribution to our economy, with science and technology leading the way.
At Invest Ottawa, we see three areas of significant opportunity that directly support key objectives defined in our new five-year Strategic Plan. We look forward to working with public and private sector partners, fellow innovation hubs, Canadian entrepreneurs and global leaders to seize these opportunities. Together, we will grow the economy, create high-value jobs and stimulate new opportunity for Canadian firms in world markets.
Fueling the Success of Female Founders
While technological innovation has helped to level the playing field for start-ups and small businesses, the ability to access capital, source customers and scale-up remains a challenge, particularly for female entrepreneurs. We applaud the $105 million committed for women-led firms in Budget 2018, and the associated initiatives that will help fuel their growth and business success.
For example, this budget emphasizes the need to help women-led companies access greater capital – a welcome and necessary development. The pledge to increase federal procurement from female-owned SMEs to 15 percent underscores how the government will translate commitment into action. This strategic decision will accelerate business growth by brokering access to early-stage customers.
The government also proposes to invest in tangible programming that provide greater support to female entrepreneurs. This is not only the right thing to do, it’s in our economic interest. At Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards, we are committed to supporting and empowering female entrepreneurs across our community, and exploring new ways to help facilitate their growth. Together with our partners, we look forward to leveraging these new federal investments to provide even greater support to female founders, dramatically expand associated business networks, and help catalyze the success of even more female-owned companies.
Innovating for Impact
Investments in the digital economy are essential to the future prosperity of our region and our country. Canadian researchers in government labs, post-secondary institutions and the private sector have an established track record of incredible discoveries, but we need to make sure taxpayer-funded innovations can be commercialized. The announced Intellectual Property Marketplace will make it easier for Canadian entrepreneurs to access public-sector owned intellectual property, creating new opportunities to commercialize Canadian innovations that currently sit dormant.
Ottawa is a tech powerhouse with the highest density of tech workers in Canada. Whether it’s Shopify powering online commerce, MindBridge Ai revolutionizing the conduct of financial audits, or BlackBerry QNX continually increasing its demonstrated global leadership in Autonomous Vehicle innovation, there is no shortage of capability in our region.
We’re also pleased to see the government emphasize the need to build stronger bridges between researchers and industry by reimagining the National Research Council, with $540 million in new funding to reinforce its strength and role as a trusted partner for industry. Pairing the strength of our research capabilities with the ingenuity of our entrepreneurs will drive prosperity for all.
Digital Transformation is Good for Citizens and Business
Digital transformation ‘done right’ has the potential to increase the efficiency of government, and vastly improve the delivery of services to citizens. The announcement of $2.2 billion over six years for IT services and infrastructure within the Government of Canada is an excellent start.
It is also a significant business opportunity. We must leverage the capability of our region to help drive this transformation. Government modernization is a priority in our 2018 Strategic Plan. We aim to build a Digital Transformation Marketplace that connects industry and government with leading edge SMEs, and helps to facilitate collaborative R&D and technology adoption in the public service. This has the potential to improve many public services for Canadians in the near term, and create global market opportunity for firms in Ottawa and across the country. The McKinsey Center for Government indicates that the government productivity opportunity will be within reach of $3.5 trillion worldwide by 2021. It is an opportunity we must seize.
Ottawa’s cybersecurity ecosystem is also among the most robust in the world. As the Communications Security Establishment builds out the recently announced Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, there will be amazing opportunities for our entrepreneurs to collaborate and increase the security of all businesses and Canadians online. Carleton University’s world-leading Global Cybersecurity Resource Accelerator at Bayview Yards is enabling entrepreneurs and firms for success in this global market.
According to this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer, Canada’s brand as a nation is the most trusted in the world. We are at a moment where the world wants more Canada – and Canadian entrepreneurs and CEOs must take the lead.
The 2018 federal budget demonstrates how the government can play a central role in helping innovators, companies and our country seize new opportunity. We look forward to leveraging our technology, innovation and business strengths, and capitalizing on new initiatives proposed for our citizens, our community and our country. This mid-mandate federal budget delivers strong investments that promise to help our companies grow and scale, and deliver economic impact for generations to come.