In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we often become immune to how convenient and productive our lives have become thanks to innovation. What was once unthinkable even 10 years ago, like the way we binge watch entire series on Netflix, or using Waze to decide the best way to get to a meeting, is now commonplace and almost taken for granted.
Many people in corporate roles fantasize about breaking free and launching an entrepreneurial venture. Three years ago I took the plunge and did just that, leaving behind a senior role in management consulting to start a talent marketplace for freelance consultants. Unfortunately, my business model didn't gain traction, but the experience was the best thing that ever happened to me professionally speaking.
In the run up to next week's federal election who is really listening to the startups that make our economy healthy? While we like to think of ourselves as having a market economy it is virtually impossible to do a startup in Ontario without running into the distortion of a government funded gatekeeper.
Almost all innovation policy and spending by the Ontario and Federal Governments are focused on subsiding private sector risk. These kinds of government programs create artificial gatekeepers, arbiters empowered to make capital allocation decisions despite never having "been there and done that" -- or often being less qualified to evaluate a new billion-dollar-plus opportunity than the startup founders they are judging.
Last weekend, The Martian opened in theatres to rave reviews, a 94 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an industry-leading $55 million box office. It's THE fall blockbuster of 2015 so far. At first glance it seems like just another Ridley Scott action movie, but might it also be the future of Innovation?
Over the past two days, Canadian entrepreneurs and American venture capitalists met at Venture North, a conference that aims to introduce U.S. VCs to Canada's tech ecosystem. Mayor John Tory started off Wednesday's proceedings by stating that Toronto is a startup-friendly city, and its tech leadership is "simply a story we haven't told yet."
It's clear that as a society we need innovative new firms to step in and help solve our climate, health and social problems, while at the same time creating a profit for investors and jobs for all of us. The important question is: how can we assure that this happens?
While the concept of creating corporate incubators is sound, the numerous attempts at implementation have been beset by a number of issues, including lacklustre results. With so many of today's corporate incubators having significant problems creating positive results, what can be done to address these issues?
As innovation moves to the forefront of corporate agendas, corporations are attempting to capture the competitive advantages that result from innovation. While many believe that innovation can be captured with existing organizational processes, these are actually a severe impediment to innovation.
There's something to be said about spending a lifetime scratching that entrepreneurial itch and some may call you nuts along the way. In British Columbia, SFU's new RADIUS Ventures is a promising business incubator sure to nurture our next generation of do-gooders with bright solutions to everyday problems.