TORONTO, ON – Lisa Raitt announced today a national consultation series with entrepreneurs, angel investors, researchers, venture capitalists and academics from across the country to review major changes the Trudeau Liberal government is considering to several successful federal programs that support Canada’s Innovation economy.
During eight years serving as a Cabinet Minister, Ms. Raitt worked diligently with her colleagues as the Harper government launched a range of innovative strategies in support of this important component of Canada’s national economy.
“As I think about the kinds of careers that will be available to my two sons when they hit their 20s, it is clear to me Canadian politicians need to put more energy into fostering our Innovation economy,” said Ms. Raitt. “With the right economic backdrop, mentoring and access to risk capital, an entrepreneur-backed IT or Life Science start-up can grow from one employee to 50 in a matter of months. In many ways, it has never been easier to start and grow your own business. That said, I am confident our country can do a better job of capitalizing on the financial commitment taxpayers make each year to Research and Development,” Ms. Raitt added.
As part of her national consultation process, Ms. Raitt is reaching out to Canada’s job-creating entrepreneurs in the hopes of securing their best policy ideas. “I know the Venture Capital Action Plan is working, according to the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, while many questions remain about the Scientific Research & Experimental Development tax incentive, targeted immigration programs and the fact that innovation firms cannot access the tax benefits of Canada’s flow-through funding regime.”
“I’ve read the various reports by Red Wilson, BDC, McKinsey and Tom Jenkins, to name a few,” she said. “Frankly, Canada needs to move beyond report writing and into action-mode. I’m struck by the fact that Canada still punches substantially below its weight when compared to the amount of venture capital that entrepreneurs raise each and every year in the United States, our largest trading partner. The ideas currently being discussed by Bill Morneau’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth aren’t going to begin to reduce that walloping investment deficit.”
There are a variety of ways to help Canadian entrepreneurs succeed. British Columbia introduced an Angel Tax Credit. Alberta’s Innovation Corporation has tested numerous management and funding structures. Ontario has tried its hand with the Ontario Venture Capital Fund and Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund, after cancelling its labour-sponsored fund program. The Quebec government has gone to great lengths to promote its biotech and IT sector using a combination of tax policy and fund-of-fund investing while New Brunswick has successfully invested in tech firms from time-to-time.
“My goal is to bring together our best minds and develop an Innovation strategy that Canadians can rally behind in 2019,” Ms. Raitt continued.
Over the coming weeks, Ms. Raitt will be holding round-table sessions with entrepreneurs, angel investors, researchers, venture capitalists and academics in many of Canada’s key innovation regions, including Vancouver/Burnaby, Calgary, Waterloo and Montreal. She is meeting with entrepreneurs and risk-capital providers in Toronto later today, and has already conducted similar roundtable sessions in Kanata and Halifax.
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