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Showing posts from May, 2008

Waterloo startups finding money close to home

Toronto lawyer Suzanne Dingwall Williams wrote a piece for the CVCA blog this week lamenting how often the startups she works with choose to seek investment from American VCs over their Canadian counterparts.

If that's the case, it sounds like another significant difference between the Toronto and Waterloo startup communities. In these parts, if you go much farther than Toronto to look for early stage capital you risk being accused of being exotic. It happens, but not often. Of the six seven-figure seed/early-stage deals we saw last year, I think only one involved a foreign investor. That seems to be consistent with the national statistics, which saw most foreign investment being put into later stage deals.

In the same post, Dingwall Williams also writes about the reputation of Canadian VCs being tarred by American brushes, but from a Waterloo perspective, I'd be shocked if one startup founder in ten here knows anything about Blackstone and Stephen Schwarzmann, to use the exampl…

BlackBerry fund looks to startups for innovation

With the new BlackBerry Partners Fund, RIM is putting its money and brand behind an initiative to look for innovation in the entrepreneurial world of startups, helping fund new companies that will create and develop innovative technologies and products.

RIM is Canada's largest company by market value and is now one of the 10 most valuable companies on Nasdaq—a list headed by Microsoft and Google in the top two positions. With its size and resources, it could have pursued any approach to innovation that it wanted, and it chose to put its support behind startups.

It could have allocated the money to university professors and told them to stop what they were working on and focus their efforts on coming up with a bunch of patents ... which RIM might then incorporate into its products.

Or it could have invited companies to rummage through RIM's patents—particularly any that aren't being used—to see if there was something there that they'd like to try to commercialize.

But it di…

Best Canadian business blogs ... and mine

Just wanted to thank Andrew Willis of The Globe & Mail for including this blog as one of his five picks for Canada's best business blogs. Most of my favourite blogs aren't even on the list -- I think the Wellington Financial blog is the only other one I often read (also a Willis pick) and many of the others are ones I've never heard of. I'll have to take a look to see what I'm missing.

There's a poll where readers can choose their favourites among the ones nominated by the Globe's writers. I don't imagine too many Globe readers will be voting for a site that focuses on Waterloo tech news -- and I doubt that I can clear my cookies fast enough or log on to enough proxy servers to have much impact. :-) But it was nice to be mentioned when so many deserving others weren't.

UPDATE: Now that I read things more carefully, it says "finance and investment" blogs -- which mine really isn't, although there is a monthly stock section. That ex…

Ontario's innovation agenda shows progress

The Ontario government released its innovation agenda last week -- outlining directions and priorities for achieving a "high and sustainable level of prosperity" for residents of the province. For the most part, these kind of documents are views from 50,000 feet and aren't particularly contentious -- not many people are going to oppose easier access to capital, building business skills, and streamlined government processes, for example.

But I was pleased to see that there's been a lot of progress made over the last couple of years. I wrote a blog post in December 2005 taking issue with the language of government "commercialization" policy at that time, and all of my key complaints were addressed in last week's document.

It shows an awareness of the primary role of markets and products -- something almost unheard of in 2005. There's no mention of "receptor capacity" or any of the other artifacts of innovation theories generated by wonks and a…