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‘Seize the moment’ – Communitech

‘Canada is the best place in the world to invest in innovation and it’s time for all Canadians to work together to “seize the moment,” says François-Philippe Champagne, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

“We have everything we need,” Champagne told a packed house during a lunch-hour town hall at the Communitech Hub in Kitchener. “I really believe that the 21st century can be owned by Canada.”

Earlier in the day, Champagne visited the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo to unveil Canada’s new National Quantum Strategy. The strategy is backed up by a $360-million financial commitment, first revealed in the federal government’s 2021 budget.

“The National Quantum Strategy will support a resilient economy by strengthening our research, businesses and talent, giving Canada a competitive advantage for decades to come,” Champagne said during his visit to the Perimeter Institute. “I look forward to collaborating with businesses, researchers and academia as we build our quantum future.”

Later at Communitech, the minister took time to meet with tech leaders and tour the Communitech Hub in downtown Kitchener. He even spent a few minutes in an F-35 flight simulator in the RCAF Flight Deck Innovation Lab.

“Three loops!!! First try,” Champagne wrote in the lab’s guest book, which his colleague, Defence Minister Anita Anand, had signed just two days earlier during her own visit to Communitech. “Didn’t crash,” Anand wrote after her own successful, simulated flight.

The Innovation Minister’s visit to Communitech – a town-hall style event dubbed “Pizza and Champagne” – was a follow-up to a December announcement in which the minister unveiled the five regional partners selected to deliver intellectual-property programming through the federal government’s $90-million ElevateIP initiative.

Communitech’s share of the ElevateIP funding – $38 million over four years – is the largest portion of the program’s overall budget. It is also one of the largest projects ever awarded to Communitech, a founder-centred organization that excels at bringing partners together to advance Canadian tech.

Communitech has begun working with partners Invest Ottawa and Winnipeg-based North Forge Technology Exchange to deliver the ElevateIP programming on a regional basis. It’s also working with prominent IP groups, including Intellectual Property Ontario (IPON), the Innovation Asset Collective (IAC), eCampus Ontario, and Canada’s Tech Network (CTN) to develop and deliver the content.

During today’s visit, Champagne also praised Communitech’s Team True North initiative, which takes a systematic approach – much like Canada’s Own the Podium Olympic strategy – to identify high-potential Canadian technology companies and then provide them with the supports needed to scale and thrive in global markets.

The current roster of Team True North includes 60 companies with the potential to grow their annual revenue to $1 billion or more by 2030.

Champagne said he really “buys into” the True North vision, especially the purposeful own-the-podium approach, which sets goals and uses data to identify and support Canada’s most promising tech companies.

He even suggested going beyond the 60 companies currently on Communitech’s Team True North roster and striving to engage other companies that might not be on track to $1 billion in sales, but are still growing their revenues significantly.

“I think each and every one of you here can make a difference,” he told the town hall audience, adding that his question for them is: “How can we put the whole weight of the government of Canada behind your success, and how can I become your champion?”

To this end, Champagne said he would do what he can to promote the Team True North vision and broaden the strategy, to ensure Canada engages all of its resources and stakeholders and focuses them on a united goal to promote Canada as the best place in the world to invest in innovation.

The minister, who said Canadians are often “not ambitious enough,” said another reason he likes the True North vision is that “it’s about winning, it’s about leading, it’s about putting Canada at the forefront.”

From his travels and meetings with global business leaders, Champagne said that Canada has everything needed to attract investment in technology and to become a global leader in innovation.

Those things include talent, leading technology, an established ecosystem, and natural resources.

“I can tell you, there’s never been a better time to be Canada,” Champagne said with his trademark high-octane enthusiasm. “We have what the world needs in the 21st century. Let’s seize the moment; let’s be ambitious!”

He also emphasized Canada’s brand as a trusted, stable nation.

“Canada’s brand has never been stronger,” he said. “In a very uncertain world, a world that is challenged, people are looking for stability.”

In concluding his remarks, Champagne said he would like to carry on the True North discussion at regular intervals, to set goals and check in every six months.

“I hope today is the catalyst for us to really engage,” he said. “And let’s make sure that this is not just us, but that we involve every Canadian… (so that) this is us winning together as a nation.”

"Communitech helps tech-driven companies start, grow and succeed. Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to making Waterloo Region a global innovation leader. At the time it was crazy talk, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1400 companies — from startups to scale-ups to large global players. Communitech helps tech companies start, grow and succeed in three distinct ways: - Communitech is a place – the center of gravity for entrepreneurs and innovators. A clubhouse for building cool shit and great companies. - Communitech delivers programs – helping companies at all stages with access to capital, customers and talent. We are here to help them grow and innovate. - Communitech partners in building a world-leading ecosystem – making sure we have all the ingredients (and the brand) to go from a small startup to a global giant."

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