Very interesting. These comments illustrate very well what is needed to aid innovation in Ottawa. One commenter illustrated what the problem was with his very comment – which we of course interspersed with dinosaurs.
Here they are:
Not sure why the author gives such importance to bureaucracy. The bigger problem with innovation is: a) There is not enough smart capital. Nobody here really understands mobile. Investors are still stuck in the Newbridge/Nortel telco mindset. b) The concentration of brilliant hackers is too low. Most people here are into web apps and ruby. Who is solving the hard problems? c) Risk averse/failure averse culture. These three things keep Ottawa (Canada in general) from creating the kinds of ‘shoot for the moon’ innovation that result in world beating companies.
- Rajiv Muradia
- November 06, 2013 – 09:24
I completely agree with Maher, having built two startups in the healthcare space, we had ongoing discussions with CCACs, LHINs, HTX, e-health Ontario to no avail. At the end of the day, we really don’t have many progressive thinkers willing to lead us away from the healthcare fiscal cliff we are about to encounter shortly…
Below is one post by a corporate dinosaur. It was so long and boring, it took two of our staff, taking turns, to read through it. So we decided to randomly insert dinosaur photos through out the post to keep it more lively. It is written in the fashion of a white paper- as boring as it is long! It goes on and on and on.
- Chad English
- November 08, 2013 – 10:03
With all due respect, this article sounds like a mix of sour grapes combined with ideologically snide remarks with no facts or reasoned arguments, and certainly no reasoning carried through to the end. Let’s take the SpaceBridge example. Perhaps those requests were denied for a good reason. Just because you thought these were good ideas does not mean everyone did.
If everybody was allowed to carry out all developments the way they wanted, companies would go bankrupt very quickly. You offer nothing in the way of recommendations for good, lean, efficient processes to recognize the bad from the good nor when to cut off failing projects and put resources on other options. Innovation isn’t about letting people just do what they want; it’s about being wise with finite resources to maximize probability of success. I
see nothing there about bureaucracy either, just denial of requests. On the Bitmaker example, perhaps it was a great training organization. But imagine if anybody was allowed to create a private college like that without regulation. You’d have snakeoil salesmen galore robbing the naive blind. In fact, that is very likely why there are regulations in the first place. You did nothing to address how
to deal with that. This isn’t to say bureaucracy isn’t ever a problem in innovation. It also isn’t limited to large companies or government; I performed and directed R&D at an SME and regularly had internal processes and organization get in my way. So I worked at changing them to be wiser. Not absent, as a “free for all” is not a good innovation environment either when resources are finite.
In fact, I would say this is the problem with innovation in Canada. Yes, there is insufficient capital; both venture capital and government funding are lower per GDP than those countries higher on the innovation list. But spending the government money wisely is the problem. That means putting it where the biggest risks and roadblocks are, which is often at the commercialization stage but depends on the industry.
Government has been more stuck in the thinking that investing in education of graduate students and investing in innovation are the same thing, aiming at funding mostly at up-front research in universities. Training and innovation are not the same thing; the same students
are far more productive at innovation inside companies 5 years later. This is a mistake made clear in the Industry Canada white paper leading the Review of R&D in Canada that led to the Jenkins report, which did a better job of addressing that particular problem. Bureaucracy isn’t a bad word. Done right it helps weed out the unwise
and reduces risk. Poorly designed bureaucratic processes are indeed harmful, but so are no processes at all. I’m more interested to hear what processes you think are good ones, not ones that got in the way of your own pet projects, which may or may not have been a good thing. We readers can’t know.
Cartoons are from College Humour’s “Dinosaur Office”. That’s right, guys like him are such dinosaurs that College Humour even paid to cartoonize them!