IT industry association

The top Geek on Ice (no diving here) has been pushing the idea of an NB IT association. One of the older veterans of the NB IT scene, has some concerns.

I am of a mixed mind on this. There are reasons why a provincial association has never worked in the past. Plus, if all the association does is set up golf tournaments and publish a directory – there’s not much there.

I would rather we built a strong provincial strategy to grow the IT industry through attracting good firms and helping to foster an environment where local IT players can expand. An association could be a part of that.

Here is the latest report on the animation software industry in Canada. When your industry is not even big enough to register with less than 1% – there’s not much here.

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0 Responses to IT industry association

  1. Anonymous says:

    The year NBITA collapsed, was the year the provincial government stopped giving it $100,000.00 per year (for 5 years in a row).

    We need 20 large corporates to commit, say $10k per year, and an SME rate that is affordable, you could actually run an effective operation catering to all.

    The problem? There isn’t 20 corporates willing to commit $10k per year, why would they? (…for economic development!). I do know an outfit that goes well with economic development, and that is ACOA. ACOA does support these regional initiatives, but in places like Happy Valley Goose Bay, and Yarmouth they get money, but places like Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton? Apparently these cities are doing ok according to ACOA.

    To get my blood pressure up, I will sometimes check-out the following link: http://pub.acoa-apeca.gc.ca/atip/e/content/search.asp

    Conrad Melanson
    Cybersocial co-chair (1998 to 2002)

  2. Geeks on Ice says:

    There are many things that need to happen before an association becomes a reality. At this stage, all I am advocating is that we get together to brainstorm the validity in forming an association and if our current ecosystem could support such a group.

    I do envision an association as being so much more then a group to organize a feel good golf or hockey tounament… An association should serve as the principle advocate for the sector to help promotion of it throughout the province and abroad, advocate for better policy(Education, Taxes, Immigration) and help forster proffesional and organizational growth.

    Why can’t we can learn from past experiences and work together on finding solutions that are threatning our sector? How are we going to overcome labor issues like immigration, recruitment and retention if we aren’t even at the table advocating better policy as a united group? I ask you how can we increase the success rate of start-ups without helping them build a network of customers and partners through a formal network of peers they can draw on?

    There’s something to be said about the fact that we are the only province in Canada without an association… What are we missing here?

    I have spoken to some who were involved in the past attempts and they tell me that some things have changed that would now support the incubation period of the new association.

    Our first step is to bring stakeholders together to brainstorm and set a moving forward agenda…if “we” decide to go ahead with the idea.

    I have heard from skeptics that do not beleive that an association is viable in NB, I ask them how is it that PEI and Nova Scotia can sustain one? I welcome the debate in an open environment like this one.

  3. mikel says:

    We had this conversation before and I”m not sure what has changed. I’d debate the ‘needing 20 corporations paying 10 grand a year’. What exactly FOR?

    Might as well look at a local success story, namely in PEI, where FULL membership costs $300. I think the highest membership rate is $750. So I”m not surprised nobody would pay ten grand. Hell, the chamber of commerce doesn’t charge one tenth of that and they pretty much keep a gridlock on municipal politics.

    In PEI that includes a real mix of members, some are guys you never heard of, some are the big banks, and even Aliant, which probably joined more for its members. They also have considerable sub-sectors, from biotechnology to computer sales.

    A big success story there was getting Softworld in 2002. That involved partners getting together in 2000 and preparing a bid that took two years.

    So I suspect that what is lacking is simply the people to put it together. Big companies would probably join, if asked, but I don’t know the details of the old organization. Like a lot of things funded by government, they may have just seen it as a cash cow and really didn’t do much.

    In NB, large companies know that all they need to do is call or get an article in the paper and money comes in from the province.

    You can just go to http://www.itap.ca and read all the details of the PEI organization. NB has all those types of companies, IF somebody simply put together such a website association with similar services then maybe the association would exist. Perhaps this is just another example of the lack of entrepreneurial talent. Easiest thing to do is find out the history of ITAP and then copy it. There is no reason it can’t get $750 from some of the big players. And $300 is chicken feed.

    Smaller companies usually join for the opportunity to network with the larger companies, which is why you don’t charge the larger companies ten grand. Networking doesn’t need to even be expensive golf mixers, they can be ANYTHING. Hell, invite everybody out for mini golf and tell them to pay their own way. People don’t network for the chance to play hockey or golf, they can do that anytime, they do it for the socializing and for the business.

    I think David would be a prime guy to do it. He’s got the brains and now he’s an ‘entrepreneurs’. He’s got the weblog and the lobbying already started. Again, just go to ITAP and see what they are doing, its not anything that anybody can’t do. So the problem isn’t the government, the government may well be reading stuff like this and saying to the public “Jesus, stop TALKING about it and DO something for chrissakes”. Paralysis by analysis indeed.

  4. mikel says:

    More updates, I just checked out Waterloo’s ‘communitech’, the regional technology association. Here’s the membership costs:

    0-5 employees: $300
    6-10 : $500
    11-20: $1000
    21-40: $2000
    41-60: $3000
    61-100: $4000
    101+: $5000

    So ten grand is way out of the question. This association represents over 400 companies, here’s the breakdown on their finances:

    Membership fees $ 504,044
    Seminars,conferences and special events 665,320
    Business and education partnership funding 189,000
    Municipal support 135,000
    Business Accelerator grant 166,133
    Recruitment strategy 95,300
    Research funding 257,700

    You can read up on them here:www.communitech.ca.

  5. Philippe Gauthier says:

    The question of funding is an important one but its not the biggest hurdle.

    With strong leadership on the local level that reflects regional needs and interests how do we get everyone rowing in the same direction? Do we have common goals and needs in a world where economic development is truly a regional affair.

    An other important question in my mind has to do with the existing structures (KIRA, Rising Stars, Geeks on Ice, etc..) that would normally be part of the activities that an association would organize to generate awareness and collect funds. Is it even conceivable to see some of them being folded into a provincial association in order to make it a strong and viable endeavor?