Google’s Go North conference examines the Canadian tech industry’s strengths and challenges

Betakit | | Nov 1, 2016

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Canadian entrepreneurs may have a reputation for not being the best at selling themselves, but there’s no denying that big things are happening here. With companies attracting more attention and large corporations becoming more eager to set up shop in the TO-KW corridor, many in the startup and entrepreneurship space wonder what’s needed to help the ecosystem continue its upwards trajectory.

On Friday, Google attempted to answer this multi-faceted question by bringing together 500 people from incubators, accelerators, government leaders, and investors for Go North, a one-day summit dedicated to hosting honest conversations about Canada’s tech industry.

The event tackled the Canadian government’s innovation agenda, comparisons between Canada and the world’s tech ecosystems, and attracting and retaining top talent. BetaKit rounded up some choice quotes from the afternoon’s conversations.

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The government’s role in fostering the startup ecosystem

“Fundamental research is something that can only be funded by the government and philanthropy. To be successful and punch out of the noise, we have to provide not just focus, but density. We have to pick something that we want to be good at, or something that we’re already good at. And we need to increase the density around that choice.”

– Mike Lazaridis, founder of RIM

“We want to turn this country into a global centre for innovation. In the past, Canada has relied on increased trade and high commodity prices to boost our economy during periods of weakness. We also relied on more people joining the workforce. But these options are no longer enough. The truth is, Canada is going through some challenging times, but it’s unfolding quietly.”

– Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

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The importance of hype (and why Canadians need to be better at it)

“I sold to an American company maybe a bit too early. I think that there’s a cool stat here that I remember as a CEO all the time, which is that when you look at a graph of all the different companies that have been sold and how much that company appreciated for the next buyer, Canadian companies are the most undervalued.

It means two things: number one, Canadians could be better negotiators and we should be a lot more upfront, and second, we’re allowing other people to take the value we created and leverage that. There’s an enormous opportunity. Canada is a group of exceptionally talented, hardworking entrepreneurs and we’re now building the next stage of the ecosystem.”

– Michele Romanow, co-founder of SnapSaves and Clearbanc

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