This is a good thing, on a number of levels. First there is considerable IT heft in Saint John and to have a provincial IT initiative led out of that city makes sense. Second, we need a provincial initiative.
Read the PropelICT strategic plan here.
It’s pretty good stuff but it would go a long way in my books if this organization would at least recognize the importance of both IT company incubation and attracting a few key anchor IT firms from away. They do mention in this strategy “attracting and growing IT firms”. Here are the three elements of the purpose strategy:
To develop the necessary community based infrastructure (Ideas, People, Capital) to expandentrepreneurship, innovation and economic activity in the sector.
To accelerate growth in the region’s ICT community by attracting and growing new ICT companies andfacilitating the growth and collaboration of the existing ICT companies, and
To influence government to adopt policy and practices that will foster growth of the sector,especially through business start-ups.
I think it is clear that the province has spent far more money and time trying to grow ICT firms than it has trying to attract ICT firms. How many national or multinational ICT firms has the province attracted here (not including a couple that came for government contracts)? Not many. Any? Probably a couple but I can’t think right off the top. As for supporting startups I can name you 50 without even thinking from Learnstream, Provinent, ContentAlive, JOT, Ithinkinteractive, Romunlin, Ecom, EHub, BKM Training I’ll stop here but you get the point. You will also notice they are all out of business.
I would like the ICT industry in New Brunswick to have a look at successful ICT ecosystems elsewhere and really understand the linkages between big and small ICT firms, education, association and government. It can be a highly complex ecosystem and the first step towards building a cluster is understanding this reality. For example, most successful small ICT firms never grow big alone – they are almost always bought by a larger firm or at least injected with equity from a large partner. The nature of ICT is that if companies want to expand beyond small local contracts, they need serious equity beyond short term cash flow.
But I have talked about this at great length before. For now, I wish PropelICT all the success in the world.