Focus, focus, focus on….!

The week has gotten away from me but my commitment to a weekly journal post remains in tact! These posts, pretty much reflect on, some of the things I experienced within our SH community and with members. Some times I’ll post things that reach outside of the community but merit you knowing about them. My theme, if you will, is all about focus. All of us, in my humble opinion, must focus on our collective success as Canadian entrepreneurs and professionals. 


Focus on Canadian Entrepreneurs and Local Ecosystems

Government’s View and Approach on Economic Development is Bass Ackwards!

The distraction of attracting Amazon to every Canadian city (no doubt with serious concessions) is just one example of how we aren’t focused on what matters. I’m not a nationalist and believe that partnerships with people and companies around the world should be encouraged. But, the focus has to be on how we, as a country (and a region), are building an entpreneurial and economic ecosystem that is based on self determination.

Made in Canada matters more today than it ever has. So, sorry Amazon, Google and [put non-Canadian company here being courted by politicians] we’re good. Yes, I up, a see a sense of irony in that we named our community Silicon Halton to emulate Silicon Valley but I like to think we have the opportunity to be better…. especially in the areas of social responsibility, inclusion and ethical use of data. 

We all know that it takes more time and money to acquire a new customer than to retain one. Then why is it that all levels of government are obsessed with attracting new companies vs. addressing the needs of local companies? Why is it that some of our Universities are developing IP for foreign companies and countries with no strings attached [read the story here]? While, a local Canadian startup is in a dispute with a Canadian University regarding rights to the IP they developed while in their incubator [read about it here]. This is crazy!  Why is it that our Prime Minister declined an invitation, twice, to visit a local technology company but was more than willing to fly to Silicon Valley and court the local technology companies about the quality of our talent [yup, this is true too]? 

“Well, for starters we need to see our government supporting more Canadian companies that are looking to build and grow at home.

 

We need our government to work with industry leaders to develop the right innovation growth strategy for Canada, a strategy designed to support our scale-up companies that are emerging on the world stage.

 

We need government to listen to and nurture our scaling companies here at home, instead of chasing giants from abroad.”

– Carl Rodrigues, CEO of SOTI, Inc.

How committed are we all to developing a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem that’s primary focus is on starting, growing and sustaining made in Canada companies? The recent Supercluster program is encouraging but it’s early days. So, I will continue to step up and do what I can personally and through my ventures to be focused on creating and supporting world class Canadian entrepreneurs and companies. In fact you need to as well. So when a local entrepreneur asks you for help and wants to partner talk to her. Be open and realize that if we don’t lead in the creating and growth of Canadian companies we won’t be able to control our destiny in any industry. 


China Will Lead in AI … but for the Wrong Reasons

Canada, supposedly is the leader in AI, or is it? Yes we have some well known pioneers in AI heading up labs and holding senior roles at Universities. But, how does one define “leading”. I would argue that China already leads based on investment, number of AI developers and outcomes. But, it’s for the wrong reasons, just watch the video below and you’ll see why. My question to Universities is will you being doing more research and development for Chinese companies for AI? Or, should you go “all in” and focus on Canadian companies exclusively? You know where I stand.

But, We Can Lead … for the Right Reasons!

I’m believe strongly that we have the best talent, the best entrepreneurs and the greatest opportunity available to us more than any other country. If we can do it in hockey why not building great forever lasting ventures?! But, I have to call out the things that concern me about whether we’re on the right path or not. And, we need to believe that there is an abundance of opportunity for us all and work together to create a path that will make us succeed as professionals, entrepreneurs and yup, human beings! And we need to step up and contribute. 

Last week’s TU20 Policy in Technology event is one example where people, in this case students, are choosing to lead and give a voice as to the path we should take. In this case it had to do with policy an AI. Below are some select tweets from the thread we published during the competition. Check the thread out here.

I was at the event and witnessed an amazing group of students who put forward policy recommendations as part of a case competition focuses on policy and technology. There were three winning teams and you’ll notice that five of the seven winning team members were women. Overall there were more male students participating in the event but we were encouraged with the number of female students participating and their result! Each winning team member received a plaque and the first place team $1500. 

 


Now It’s Your Turn

These journal posts are done weekly and I report on the things I’ve been up to. I try to get out three to four times per week. If you’ve got something going on that you’d like me to participate let me know. Any key announcements you’d like for me share I can do so here as well, subject to space and time availability. Those members and their businesses that are giving first to the community take precedent along with strategic priorities and partner sponsors. 


What’s Next in Our Community?

Lot’s of stuff happening in our community and there are many places to refer to regularly. Places to check out are: our newsletter, events page and blog posts. And, remember to check out what our TU20 team is up to as well.  

Some key activities I’d like to high lite are below. 

About Chris Herbert

Cofounder, Silicon Halton

Chris Herbert is a social entrepreneur. His current ventures are: Silicon Halton, Mi6 Agency and TechIgniters. He's a former squash professional and passionate about helping entrepreneurs, technology companies and professionals achieve success. He's a proud Canadian and plans to make Halton region the greatest place on the planet to live, work and play.

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