By Craig Bamford
Welcome to Notables for September 12, 2018.
First this week: CIX names their top 20 most innovative companies in Canada.
The Canadian Innovation Exchange, which hosts the CIX Summit – coming October 22-23 – has named the 20 companies they’re honoring as “game-changing companies on the rise”. A selection committee of tech experts and investors pored over hundreds of profiles from across Canada, and chose 20 companies based on their products, management depth, market opportunity and business model. The CEO of each company will present their story at the conference.
Laura Linton, CIX Executive Director, said that “these businesses join an elite list of hot Canadian tech companies that have made up the CIX Top 20 over the past decade”; including well-known Canadian success stories like Zoom.ai, Wattpad and Wealthsimple. Roy Pereira, CEO & Founder of Zoom.ai, said that “our brand awareness has shot up and we’ve recently closed our seed round of financing, in part due to that extra exposure from the CIX Top 20.”
Linton also highlighted that eight of this year’s Top 20 have women as founders and co-founder, including Borrowell, Canvass.io, Dialogue.co, and Irystec among others. For the full list, including links, click here.
Next this week: BDC and the SME hiring squeeze.
A new report from the Business Development Bank of Canada is highlighting the issues many small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are having finding talent. The report, “Labour Shortage: Here to Stay” details the growing issues that Canadian employers are having with worker scarcity. BDC says that there’s no relief in sight for employers, pointing to rising GDP in both Canada and across the globe as proof that they “do not expect labour shortages to get better for at least a decade”.
BDC lays out a variety of consequences for SMEs: firms with labour shortages are 65% more likely to be low-growth companies, existing employees are under pressure to work more hours, labour costs increase, and product quality can suffer. BDC points to Atlantic Canada, British Columbia and Ontario as suffering the worst shortages, but SMEs in manufacturing, retail and construction are “facing headwinds” across the country, especially firms with 20-49 employees. The report says that companies are recruiting younger workers, hiring less-qualified workers, and changing compensation; but, interestingly, a solid majority are not interested in recruiting immigrants.
BDC recommends that companies “develop an employee value proposition”. They should define their vision, values, and reasons people are “proud and motivated to work for you”, and having “strong HR policies”. They also recommend exploring newcomers, the differently-abled and retirees as potential sources of labour.
Finally this week: CIGI and IP strategy.
The Centre for International Governance Innovation’s (CIGI) Pina D’Agostino looked at Canada’s new intellectual property (IP) strategy, talking about why it’s important and what she thinks it should focus on. The IP strategy was announced in February as part of the Federal budget, and D’Agostino believes that it’s sorely needed: Canadian residents lag behind the rest of the world on patent, trademark and design registration, and “there are no Canadian companies in the top 100 patent applicants worldwide.”
D’Agostino identifies three “main mechanisms” in Canada’s new IP strategy. First is “IP awareness, education and advice”: ensuring that the government understands where Canadians’ knowledge of IP is lacking and working to resolve the issues. Second, “Strategic IP tools for economic growth”, including expedited IP resolution, a “patent collective” pilot project, a centralized IP database, and improving companies’ global competitiveness. Third, and no less important, are legal changes: new requirements for demand letters in patent and copyright law, a research exemption for the Patent Act to allow R&D of patented technology without the fear of triggering infringement notices, and expanding patent licensing protection to bankruptcy and insolvency law.
D’Agostino points to a specific success story: university-based IP clinics. They’ve provided “underserviced clients” the ability to recognize, protect and exploit technology “from the grassroots”, helping them bypass the potentially enormous expense of getting a patent, and helping creators from under-resourced and marginalized communities get the legal support they need to create, exploit and defend IP. And while D’Agostino notes that ‘there are not many such IP legal clinics in Canada”, the ones that exist – like the IP Osgoode Innovation Clinic at Osgoode Hall Law School – can set an example for others to follow.
Notables is a weekly collection of interesting science, technology, investment and innovation reports, press releases and other news bytes from around the web. Notables are curated and written by Craig Bamford.
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The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of RE$EARCH MONEY.