There have been a notable number of firms that end up in the second category. From the Fredericton elearning software firm that became Skillsoft to Radian6 (Salesforce.com), Whitehill (now Thomson Reuters), Genesys (Alcatel) and now Q1 (IBM) – although the last one as I understand it was already mostly owned by Yanks.
Obviously it would be nice to have RIM-type start ups that grow and keep NB as their HQ. But that is unrealistic for the most part. The ICT ecosystem is more like the Serengeti Plain than any other industry (with the possible exception of pizza which I have blogged about before). It is a brutal industry. From patents to VC to the war for talent – if NB firms can get hooked up with bigger players like Salesforce.com – I say this is a very acceptable outcome.
Of course the onus is on us to make sure these firms stay here and grow. There is no doubt locally owned firms have more loyalty to their local community but I would rather have an IBM here than a small tech firm that grinds out.
I think we should be churning out more of these firms – some will sell, some will try to make it on their own but the key is to be an ecosystem that is incubating new ideas, new entrepreneurs with products/services for the export market.
Nova Scotia recently announced a start up competition in the green energy space where the winner gets $100k financing, incubation space and other support services from Innovacorp. They are specifically making this competition open to companies all over the place – not just in Nova Scotia.
I love it. We spend all our effort trying to attract mature firms – why not try and attract some entrepreneurial startups? Goodness knows we have lost thousands of entrepreneurs over the years to other jurisdictions – I am happy to see efforts to try and bring some back.