Think of this as PropelICT on a massive amount of steroids. Or better yet, PropelICT, the NBIF and the folks doing ICT development at BNB all rolled into one. Maybe something like NSBI but just for the technology-based industries.
The proof is always in the proverbial pudding but I like what I see with this model. The West Virginia Coalition for Technology Based Economic Development – TechConnect West Virginia is a private sector-led model that is supported by industry, government, university and other institutional partners. From what I can tell, it is fairly grand in its vision and relatively well financed. In addition, West Virginia suffers from many of the stereotypes that New Brunswick has over the years.
TechConnect West Virginia’s four strategies are:
- Build a culture that supports innovation and entrepreneurship and the creation and growth of technology-based companies
- Promote a pro-active business climate with incentives that will grow, attract and retain technology-based companies
- Ensure access to capital at all stages of firm development
- Grow West Virginia’s technology clusters by building R&D and commercialization capacity around the targeted technology platforms
I know that some of the ICT industry are calling for a government ICT Czar. Others are calling for the industry to come together into an industry association. I wonder if we will ever see the industry evolve to the stage of maturity where a model like this emerges? Imagine if the private sector actually played this direct a role in economic development? Imagine if the private sector actually took a direct proactive role in attempting to attract industries to New Brunswick?
I would like to see it tried. We haven’t seen any major changes to the ‘institutions’ of economic development in years. BNB has a similar structure as it did 7-8 years ago. The Enterprise Network is essentially the same (with evolving mandates of course). The NBIF is the same as it was years ago. ACOA is essentially the same (although I do see it moving away from economic development altogether into a regional delivery arm for an array of federal government programs).
Maybe a breakthrough approach like this – with Gerry Pond as Chair – would be a very interesting way to go.
Discuss amongst yourselves.