Call it the Terry Matthews credo: in high tech, timing is everything and there’s no future for companies that aspire to be number two. As the founder of several successful high tech companies, Matthews knows what he’s talking about. The runaway success of Mitel and Newbridge Networks are textbook examples of companies that succeed by identifying and dominating a market ahead of the competition.
If a company wants to succeed in a particular niche, it has to play to win or it shouldn’t bother. The same can be said for whole industry sectors and even nations where speed, agility and picking the right niches are essential success factors.
Biotechnology is a case in point. It’s essentially a technology platform underpinning a diverse range of industrial sectors and is widely touted as the successor to information and communication technologies in terms of global impact. Canada has a lot of biotech companies — close to 500 — but they’re mostly small, often poorly managed and inevitably underfunded and spread over too many sectors. It’s simply not sustainable.
A new report from the Conference Board of Canada asserts that Canada and Canadian biotech firms must reverse the trends of poor focus, mediocre commercialization performance and weak global presence (see page 4).
In other words the fundamentals of succeeding in a fiercely competitive global environment must be applied. Choose the right niche, listen to your clients, invest in the right technology and play to win. In today’s global economy, there are no also-rans.