Ogle wants NB to focus on ET

Richard Ogle, who penned the book Smart World, says New Brunswick has done this before when it was a leader in creating a thriving call centre industry, and needs to get behind another new “big idea” if it wants to see another such boom.

He sees potential for New Brunswick’s next big thing in environmentally-friendly technologies, praising the arguments in Thomas Friedman’s book Hot, Flat and Crowded. “The opportunity for industrial development with really high-paying jobs in energy and environmentally related technologies is huge,” says Ogle. “I mean a huge upside including exporting to the rest of the world.” Friedman uses the term “ET” or environmental technologies to describe potentially hot new emerging industry.

“ET is like the IT of the 1970s,” says Ogle. “It is a huge hot spot and you can have a piece of that if you get it early.” But to capitalize on any breakthrough idea there are a number of forces that must work together: government investments, tax incentives, mobilization of work force, “you’ve got to alert the universities so that they get their research centres going and they’re turning out the right kinds of graduates” and “you’ve got to get the venture capital, the investments flowing in.”

First of all, in this industry, many of the technologies are well into development so I am not sure about ‘breakthrough ideas’. We are way behind the curve if we want to develop an ET sector.

But Ogle is right. It is about creating the value proposition (tax incentives, government investment, workforce, R&D as he states) and selling it “getting the venture capital and investments flowing in”.

But talk continues to be the cheapest commodity around. NB has been talking about “aerospace” development for 15 years and still is. Does this look like a growing sector to you?

Total Exports from New Brunswick
NAICS 3364 – Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing

Year Amount
2002 $ 61,534,906
2003 $ 5,324,029
2004 $ 2,103,844
2005 $ 13,436,021
2006 $ 3,290,869
2007 $ 3,514,565

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0 Responses to Ogle wants NB to focus on ET

  1. Anonymous says:

    There is far more potential with the environmental sector than it may first appear.

    NB actually has a strength in the environmental science and technology field, and its traditional resource based economy. We have some of the top enginnering firms in the country who are already engaged in international business; a good portion of this business is related to environmental technology (sewage treatment, water treatment, biomass, composting, co-gen etc.)

    The sector nicely complements the energy focus and allows for cross over with green energy.

    It has provincial reach with urban and rural potential.

    If this was packaged up properly, and as you suggest attracted some Federal support (at least on a per capita scale) like aerospace has done for Quebec and automotive for Ontario, it could be a winner.

    In defence of aerospace, it does keep the local NB travel agents busy booking all the government expeditions to various air shows and generates work for the trade show display and promotional material suppliers. Seriously, the opportunity has passed us up; NS and PEI are light years ahead. Why not let them have their cake and focus on our own? Is it always necessary to copy what others are doing? As the contact center example illustrates, we can be a leader for others to follow.

  2. Tim says:

    David, do you tire of the anonymous postings? I read a blog the other day where the policy was no anonymous postings. Would be interesting on yours and perhaps cut down on some of the bloviating. This is a good post, but others not so much.

  3. David Campbell says:

    Yes, I thought about disallowing Anonymous postings but there are actually some folks in the economic development biz in NB that would never post with their real names and I still want their contribution. In fact, I encourage all ED practitioners to contribute more but I don’t have much luck. Based on anecdotal evidence quite a few read the thing – they just won’t post.

  4. Richard Ogle says:

    David, I understand your slightly skeptical reaction to the article. We both agree it’s always complicated, there are no silver bullets, and talk is cheap. But check out Friedman’s analysis of the opportunities in ET. For one thing, he really understands the systems issue underlying the development of environmental/alternative energy technologies, which is crucial if you’re going to bring these in to help jump-start regional innovation. For another, he wouldn’t agree that it’s too late, given the array of new technologies he thinks we’re going to need. I’ll say more about this at the 21inc Ideas Festival.

    In preparing for the festival, I’ve enjoyed reading your very informative blogs. Thanks.