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Can Windsor use a non-snub to energize a focus on innovation?

OMG, did you hear? There's a new $100 million "Innovation SuperCorridor" initiative from the province introduced in the budget ... AND WINDSOR'S BEEN SHUT OUT! Snubbed! All that money and Windsor need not apply.

Well, that was the story in the Windsor media, anyway—led by the Windsor Star, which rang the alarm bells, soon followed by other media outlets. The president of the University of Windsor, Alan Wildemanwrote a rebuttal, but to little effect. Apparently, the chamber of commerce is now preparing a lobbying campaign to make sure Windsor gets its fair share of the funds.

Which will be a challenge, since there actually is no $100 million initiative. Either the Star invented it or they cribbed it from someone who did, because it certainly wasn't in the budget.

It's true that the budget described an area it called the "Innovation SuperCorridor"—it "extends from London and Waterloo region [sic] in the west [I'm pretty sure one of those is…

Thumbs up for RIM book "Losing the Signal"

A couple of weeks ago, I Tweeted some comments about the book Losing the Signal: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff and wanted to have them in a more accessible form.

There's been a lot written about Losing the Signal and I won't duplicate what available elsewhere. I would definitely recommend the book. Whenever I read anything related to the Waterloo tech scene of the 1990s and 2000s, I expect to spend a lot of time rolling my eyes and muttering comments to myself, but that didn't happen here. (I have some minor quibbles, but you'll always have those.)

I followed RIM closely from about 1995 to 2010 and enjoyed that part of the book primarily for the retrospective quotes from people who were involved with the company—as insiders, partners, customers and others. And then I pretty much stopped following the company cold turkey in the fall of 2010, and continued to enjoy that part of the book for details I wasn't familiar w…

A lesson Adam Chowaniec helped me to learn

This was going to be a set of tweets, but ended up being a little long.

I'd been reading observations and recommendations from Adam Chowaniec for over ten years when he died a couple of weeks ago. He was one of the leading figures in the Ottawa tech community and had spoken at at least a couple of Communitech events over the years.

He was always worth hearing, and at the same time, would occasionally say things that made me think we lived in alternate universes.

It was an important lesson to learn. Tech communities—even in the same province—have different experiences and priorities. Chowaniec was very Ottawa, very telecom. Ottawa and Waterloo collaborate a lot, and aren't that far apart in distance, but are also very different.

You have to be cautious when drawing conclusions for the province or the country based on your one region. You can't avoid it—most of us live in one place, and that shapes our experiences—but you can watch out for your own overgeneralizations.

(At …

Zero to One: Some useful insights in a sea of dross

Many people have said good things about the Peter Thiel (with Blake Masters) book Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, and there were several parts I found worthwhile, but I can't add it to the recommended reading list for startup founders.

There's nothing particularly objectionable about the major theme—have a bold vision and a plan to get there—but there's very little in Thiel's underpinning for that theme that's going to be of much value. It's heavy on personal ideology—which may be enjoyable to read if you share the same views—but not so useful as a guide for startups.

I'm sure I could pull a dozen good tweets from the book (and will do, below ... 10 of them, anyway), but I found the first half to be largely a waste of time. Thiel's recollections of the late 90s dot-com boom are very different from mine. He looks back with nostalgia at a golden era characterized by big visions that he rarely sees these days. I remember the pe…

London, Ontario and its 20 to 44-year-old population ... is it really so bad?

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For its London X event this past weekend, Emerging Leaders republished some analysis from about a year ago of the 2011 Census that suggested London was doing a poor job of attracting and retaining people in the 20 to 44 age range when compared to other municipalities. At the time it was originally published, I looked it over and had some questions about whether London's numbers were really that bad, but didn't look into it more closely ... until now.

I'm going to use figures for the City of London rather than the London census metropolitan area (CMA), which includes eight municipalities, some of which are very different from London. London accounts for 77% of the population of the CMA, so there often isn't a big difference between the two, but the London CMA includes the farming-heavy communities of Adelaide Metcalfe and Southwold and the heavily working-class municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc, as well as St. Thomas. Looking at the CMA is worthwhile (and I have those n…

IRAP Q3 contributions for 70 organizations across 12 regions in SWOntario

The quarter ended December 31 (Q3 FY2014) was huge for IRAP contributions across Southwestern Ontario—way too many to go through individually. The long list of recipients includes Snapsort, Miovision, Renix, Akira Systems, Ortech, Digital Extremes, TecVana, LifeLike Biotissue, Pulse Infoframe, Magnet Forensics, Thalmic, Sand Plains Aquaculture, Fehr Machine, and System-On-Chip Technologies. Communitech, Innovation Guelph and the Canadian Innovation Centre also received contributions.

A few of these actually happened in Q2 and were disclosed late, but even so, it was one of the most active periods you'll see—particularly in London, where 21 companies received contributions. As I've mentioned several times, IRAP has long been a leading supporter of the London tech community. But it wasn't just London—there were contributions in 12 different regions of Southwestern Ontario. There are innovative companies across the region in a wide range of sectors. The largest contribution…

At first glance: Highlights of Budget 2014

Haven't read a lot of it yet, but these were some items that stood out from a innovation perspective ... and from a quasi-rural, living in Southwestern Ontario near the border perspective (a summary of my Tweets at the time):
Additional $40 million over four years to the Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program to help entrepreneurs create new companies$305 million over five years to enhance access to high-speed broadband networks to a target speed of 5 Mb/sUp to $30 million to IRAP to support youth internships in SMEsReallocation of $15 million annually within the Youth Employment Strategy to support up to 1,000 full-time internships at SMEs $3 million over three years to the Canadian Digital Media Network for the creation of the Open Data Institute in Waterloo $15 million over three years, starting in 2014–15, to support the Institute for Quantum Computing in WaterlooCreate the Canada First Research Excellence Fund with $1.5 billion in funding over the next decadeAdditional $15 m…