I had the opportunity to take part in a session today looking at the growth potential in one of the province’s most interesting industries – life sciences. There was an expert brought in from the U.K. to discuss her experience with cluster development. In chatting with her I was struck again at how important just a small handful of people and organizations can drive the growth of an industry. These are determined – like a dog with a bone – kind of leaders and I don’t know how many of them we have in New Brunswick.
There are successful companies – and organizations – but there are not that many cases of industries or specific sectors that have come together and fought passionately to grow something bigger and better.
Gerry Pond is a one man wrecking crew – but he is literally growing his own cluster of IT firms.
It takes more than government money. Or institutions. It takes more than a few successful firms. It takes some kind of drive from deep within to build something bigger and better.
Folks achieve their Maslowistic self-actualization in different ways. Some pursue wealth, some pursue music/arts, academics, teaching, community service – etc. Some folks are just happy to live life and they don’t feel a passionate desire for grander ambition.
It seems to me we need a few folks who want to take on this bigger project – of turning NB around and building a stronger economy for the future. I have come to the conclusion that this needs to happen at the specific sector development level. If we could get some private sector leaders to really step – really step up – someone from PEI today said they have a full time job and a part time job building the cluster.
Wouldn’t it be neat if there were hundreds of NB leaders with ‘part time’ jobs working on the New Brunswick Growth Project. We can’t just leave it to government. Government has an enormously important role to play but it has to channel the ambitions of the rest of society. It’s easy to step back and whine about ineffectual government. It’s harder to step up.