Cisco’s $100M Toronto innovation centre
This is another thought experiment for you.
If Cisco had announced a $100 million innovation centre to study the internet of things in New Brunswick would the headline be “Cisco boosts Fredericton’s tech credibility with $100-million innovation hub” or would it be “New Brunswick government gives Cisco $220-million”. Notice the G&M story buries that part in the middle of the article.
If that investment was made in New Brunswick, think tanks from Toronto to Vancouver would decry the corporate welfare. In Toronto this is considered a good strategic investment.
The second part of the thought experiment. How much of the New Brunswick government’s $80 million innovation fund will be used to lever innovation investments from national or international firms? It’s hard to say for sure but it is likely the vast majority will be carved up into small bits and distributed around to various small initiatives and firm-level innovation efforts.
I don’t have a problem with this in principle but in reality if we want to grow out tech cluster, we should also be thinking about attracting a few more big players. We have attracted several – notably through acquisitions – and that is okay – but if we want a thriving cluster I think we could do more and attracting centres of excellence such as the Siemens facility in Fredericton is a good example.