Gerry Pond is right. The ICT industry needs to focus on companies that are building products and services for the export market. This is a variation on a theme that we have talked about many times here. If the ICT industry is just jockeying for position in the New Brunswick market, that won’t drive a lot of growth. It is important to have a competitive market for ICT in the province. We want our firms to have multiple options for hosting, web development and services. We want multiple providers of telecommunications services. And, certainly, there are potential productivity gains from more adoption among our local firms of IT. There may be some import substitution potential if local firms can grab business that is currently going to the big IT shops outside NB.
But that is still primarily about sloshing the same money around and not growing the pie.
We grow the pie through exports. We get exports by either attracting in export-based firms or by local firms building and selling products/services into export markets. That means new money flowing into New Brunswick and it means growing the economic pie.
But it is hard to grow an indigenous export-based ICT industry. Small firms suffer from access to capital issues, attracting management talent, investing in R&D, lack of scale for market development, etc. There are a number of successful examples, however, and they need to be studied.