On May 15 the Atlantic Growth Strategy Subcommittee on Innovation released a report on findings from their Atlantic "Innovation Tour". Our office was one of the stops on this tour. During this visit we wanted to highlight the amazing youth in our province, paired with shining examples of social enterprise, two factors that if we can support well, will be powerful drivers of innovation and growth in the Atlantic provinces and across the country.
Below are the five recommendations (summarized):
1. Support throughout the Innovation Lifecycle: Create a pre-seed capital fund to encourage earlier stage entrepreneurship and fund the ideation and piloting, with a focus on decreasing barriers to entry, without diminishing existing federal government support for initiatives in other stages of the innovation lifecycle, including those delivered through ACOA and BDC.
2. Expand or Improve Existing Government Supports: Expand the Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP); implement a pre-qualification process under the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Incentive Program; and improve the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) to better meet the needs of applicants in the fast-paced innovation sector.
3. Improve Government and Intergovernmental Communications: Develop and fund an innovation portal maintained in real time under the Government of Canada domain to consolidate all aspects of government support for innovation, in ensuring businesses can access such support as efficiently as possible.
4. Support for Clusters: Support the established pan-Atlantic oceans cluster in its bid to become a supercluster under the new superclusters initiative announced in Budget 2016. The Atlantic oceans cluster currently operates with 1) nodes throughout the region, including in smaller municipalities; and 2) partners around the world, yet has significant growth potential for the benefit of the entire region.
5. Support for Social Enterprise: Provide social enterprises with access to funding commensurate with that offered to for-profit enterprises, and develop a strategy for this emerging sector, to include funding the infrastructure required.