I talked with a couple of university based researchers this week (I won’t mention their names because it’s a relatively small community but they are not in New Brunswick) and received confirmation once again the bias against any attempt to attract large multinational firms to this region.
The example is the A.I.F. which has been biased towards small local Atl. Canadian firms. In two cases that were relayed to me this week, the small firms went bankrupt before the AIF project was even completed leaving the university partner scrambling to find a substitute. I was told by both researchers that the AIF prefers they partner with local firms rather than a big, established firm outside this market.
This is nuts. I am sorry but this reminds me of a conversation I had lately where a senior person in the federal economic development system in Atl. Canada told me flat out that they were there to help smaller firms that really need help not the big firms that are well established.
Many of these AIF projects had the potential to attract world class private sector research dollars and capacity to Atl. Canada but we would rather fund small start ups – at least two of which went under before the AIF project was even completed.
The AIF is supposed to be a catalyst R&D in Atlantic Canada. If a university researcher can get a world leader in a specific area of research to partner with them on an R&D effort in this region, we should be jumping for joy.
I am all for providing R&D support to great, small companies in Atl. Canada that have reall good ideas that need commercialization research. Sure. I am not opposed to that but I am deeply opposed to a bias against reserach projects that would end up familiarizing a world leading company with this region and give them a starting point for eventually investing in this region.
It seems to me we have a bunch of social workers posing as economic developers – and that is a dangerous thing indeed.