Words of wisdom

Words of wisdom

Investors and regional tech successes share their thoughts on what Atlantic Canada needs to advance its innovation game to the next level

Ashley Kielbratowski

“Pushing innovation to the next level isn’t always easy but I think that the most important thing for anyone building tech is to think really big, way outside of Atlantic Canada and Canada alone. You need to build something that is translated into global markets… A lot of people here in Nova Scotia get confused about how we are scaling. They assume we just built a product for local companies or general contractors only, when in fact the majority of our customers are in the U.S. and when you are selling software you need to be able to sell it anywhere.”
Ashley Kielbratowski, co-founder and head of product at Harbr

“In Newfoundland, our university and colleges are not graduating near enough to meet [development talent] demand. A significant change needs to occur in intake or course development to match supply and demand.”
Joe McKenna, partner and CFO, Killick Capital Inc.

“Increasing investment to support firms as they scale up and doing more to grow our talent supply is crucial for the tech industry, including increasing participation by women, immigrants, and indigenous workers. It’s an exciting industry with so much to offer. We need to double down on what’s been successful and work collaboratively to remove obstacles inhibiting growth.”
Cathy Simpson, CEO, TechImpact; founder, UP+GO

Chris Gardner

“Our region will not change by opinions alone but rather through action and execution. We need to stop talking about how we can fight but yet never step in the ring. It is time for us to start throwing punches. We owe it to the next generation.”
Travis McDonough, CEO and founder, Kinduct Technologies

“Atlantic Canada has always punched above its weight when it comes to innovation. We are full of great ideas and an unwavering passion to pursue them. If we want to continue competing on the global stage, especially in the health and biosciences sectors, we need to modernize our regulatory system. A regulatory system that is predictable, efficient, consistent and transparent can serve as a catalyst for new ideas and products, all while still protecting patient care. It’s been done in other jurisdictions and it’s time for Canada to do the same.”
Chris Gardner, CEO, Sequence Bio

“We need to make sure Atlantic Canada’s story is being heard around the world. Simply put, we need to brag more. There’s a lot happening in our region, but the tech industry is noisy. There are many companies doing incredible things all over the world, all looking to attract the same world-class talent and clients as us. The tech industry is full of stars but, by collectively working together alongside increasing support from government programs and initiatives, we can draw eyes to our region. This will help us continue to attract clients and give students and international workers reasons to come and stay. That way we can make sure we shine a little brighter than the rest.”
Mike Johnston, president and CEO, REDspace

Michelle Simms

“There is a gap in the investment ecosystem in Newfoundland and Labrador, and that is in angel investment. If you look at the $50,000 to $250,000 gap, I think that’s certainly an area that we’re looking to fill. It’s an area that others in Newfoundland are working on as well and I think we will be able to figure it out.”
Michelle Simms, CEO, Genesis Centre

“Get kids in grade school involved in programming or technology in general so they know that it’s an option. If that’s something you find cool, there’s totally a job here for you. You don’t have to go away.”
Scott Stevenson, co-founder and CTO, Rally

“As a pan-Atlantic accelerator, we see the need to improve collaboration among accelerators and incubators in the region. Not only will this will help to avoid duplication in programming, it will also maximize the benefits to founders. We also see tremendous opportunity in enhancing partnerships between accelerators/incubators and university accelerators/incubators so that the entrepreneurial talents developed in university academic programs have a path forward to remain in Atlantic Canada after graduating from university.”
Barry Bisson, CEO, Propel

Jan Martlik

“We need to develop a greater commitment to incorporate innovation into our medium and large businesses. In other jurisdictions, we’ve seen the corporate sector’s willingness to actively participate in the startup and innovation ecosystem dramatically increase the success of early-stage high-growth companies.”
Malcolm Fraser, CEO, Innovacorp

“We need more women in tech, period. Women are four times less likely to consider a career in technology… when they walk into a room and there’s 50 men and maybe a couple of women. It’s hard to find those mentors or those role models.”
Paul Preston, CEO, Nati

“There are a lot of companies looking for senior development ops and server management and stuff like that. Those are very senior positions that need a lot of experience so that’s a challenge.”
Jan Martlik, founder, Get Coding!

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