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Tax incentives for individual innovators

Question:How can Canada become the best country in attracting and developing talent?
on 10/27/2016 1477539031
From the airplane and the liquid-propellant rocket, to modern computers, software and social media, many of the technologies that have shaped and cont .... Read more

From the airplane and the liquid-propellant rocket, to modern computers, software and social media, many of the technologies that have shaped and continue to shape our modern world have been the result of individuals, amateurs, and small groups of enthusiasts, often working in their spare time with extremely limited resources, rather than as part of a company.  

Not only does the work of such individuals sometimes lead to significant new technologies and viable companies, it also provides them an unmatched opportunity to develop their own creativity, skills and expertise in a hands-on way that can be of immense benefit in helping them to succeed and contribute to Canada’s economy. 

That success may come directly as a result of an idea they are working on, but it can equally come indirectly, as a result of the experience they have gained and the skills they have developed.  Such self-motivated innovation and experimentation can thus be both a means of developing talent and a means of encouraging innovative work that could lead to new products or companies.  

Yet they tend to face significant obstacles and there tends to be very little support available to them to pursue such work.  If those individuals are only able to pursue their work in their spare time, they may not have the means of incorporating a company and gaining access to the incentives that are available to businesses.

One way the government could lend its support to such self-motivated innovators would be through tax incentives, for example allowing any investments they make related to their innovative activities to be tax-deductible against their primary income, if they do not happen to have their own profitable business to claim it against.  If the costs they incur, for example purchasing a tool or piece of equipment, buying parts to build a prototype or proof-of-concept, taking a relevant course or joining a “hackerspace”, could be used as a deduction against their primary income, this would serve as one practical incentive to encourage and aid them in the pursuit of their work, and would help promote the idea that individuals who take the initiative to engage in their own innovative work and hands-on skills development are actively supporting Canada’s innovative economy and should be encouraged to do so.  

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Create a culture of innovation by creating a culture of risk acceptance

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 09/28/2016 1475078935
Innovation is an inexact science that attempts to navigate the many risks of trying something new. For innovations to flourish, innovators need to be .... Read more

Innovation is an inexact science that attempts to navigate the many risks of trying something new. For innovations to flourish, innovators need to be able to live with the constant risk of failure. If the risk or consequence of failure is seen as too great, many innovators may give up after their first attempt, or not try at all. The innovation ecosystem can do a number of things to help mitigate the risks of innovators. These include services provided through universities, such as introducing entrepreneurship and innovation in university curricula, and support programs for pre-commercial incubation activities within the university. Another key element is the creation of a culture of innovation, which is a culture of risk acceptance, where failure is seen as creating the learning and experiences that lead to success. Such a culture emerges largely from the tone set by the institutional actors in the innovation ecosystem—universities and governments. If these support institutions themselves are too risk averse, or are too punitive of failure, a true culture of innovation cannot flourish.

Federal innovation investment and programming should seek to balance diligence and risk management with acceptance of risk-taking and occasional failure.

Credit: Memorial University of Newfoundland

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Create an inclusive economy, including innovation support systems for Canadians in rural, remote, and Aboriginal communities.

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 09/28/2016 1475078639
It is growing increasingly clear that an economy in which only certain segments of the population participate in the economy and are afforded innovati .... Read more

It is growing increasingly clear that an economy in which only certain segments of the population participate in the economy and are afforded innovation support will underperform. As the Federal Government strives to make its Innovation Agenda as inclusive as possible it will be important to ensure that supports for innovation are not merely concentrated in the largest, most affluent cities, but also are developed to allow Canadians living in rural, remote, and Aboriginal communities—communities often facing the most difficult economic challenges in the country, not to mention being the site of the natural resources that continue to drive the national economy—to avail, including the supports offered by universities, ranging from academic programs, pure and applied collaborative research opportunities, and entrepreneurship training and support (i.e. incubation and acceleration).

Ensure that any new Federal innovation policies or funding programs, including those for incubators and accelerators, are developed to allow Canadians living in rural, remote, and Aboriginal communities to avail of the benefits of working with university, and other players in the innovation ecosystem.

Credit: Memorial University of Newfoundland

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Increase support for pure, applied, and interdisciplinary research excellence for students and faculty.

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 09/28/2016 1475078124
Driven, by and large, by universities, pure, or theoretical research helps to develop the knowledge breakthroughs that form the basis for new innovati .... Read more

Driven, by and large, by universities, pure, or theoretical research helps to develop the knowledge breakthroughs that form the basis for new innovations. Likewise, and often more immediately, strong applied research done in collaboration with community, industry, or government partners also leads to impactful innovation. And as the range of social and economic problems grow increasingly complex, both pure and applied research will require interdisciplinary teams to contend with the entire scope of these challenges and develop the innovations that are able to address them.

Federal support, through the three research councils, should be increased, and funding program policies should be adapted to facilitate interdisciplinary and collaborative applied research projects between university, community, industry, and government partners.

Credit: Memorial University of Newfoundland

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Four Ideas to Grow Innovative Talent

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/12/2016 1471029760
Canada needs a talent strategy for growth. Within our publicly-funded post-secondary institutions, we need to focus federal supports to produce &ldquo .... Read more

Canada needs a talent strategy for growth. Within our publicly-funded post-secondary institutions, we need to focus federal supports to produce “made-in-Canada” talent: the highly qualified and skilled workers that Canadian businesses and organizations seek.  Without better labour market forecasting, Canada cannot build an inclusive talent pool for the 21st century workplace.  We present four ideas below:

  1. Direct Statistics Canada to create, deliver and disseminate high-quality, current, relevant and comparable labour market information.

This information will benefit learners and employers and encourage informed choices about careers and jobs by providing data on skills-in-demand, employment outcomes by education type, demand for work-integrated learning, apprenticeship completion rates

2. Create a Youth Entrepreneur Seed Fund to support students enrolled in post-secondary institutions to acquire vital entrepreneurial skills.

Polytechnics and colleges offer many services, courses and centres to help young entrepreneurs. Current federal support for young entrepreneurs exists as repayable loans only; we propose a grant program for students working under the guidance of an instructor or mentor.

3. Create an innovation-focused internship program connecting polytechnic and college undergraduate students with firms and non-profit organizations.

This work-integrated learning initiative will build applied research and innovation skills, as well as enhance graduate employment outcomes, while also addressing employer need for workers with innovation skills.

4. Expand existing research talent programs at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to increase participation by polytechnic and college students.

Evidence shows that real-world research is conducted by collaborative teams, across the credential spectrum. Yet, programs designed to mentor the next generation of researchers are primarily open to graduate and post-doctoral researchers because of a narrow interpretation of terms and conditions. These programs should include the talent produced by polytechnics and colleges.

A polytechnic education builds resilient and resourceful workers for the 21st century economy.  These talented learners should be included in any government action for equipping youth with entrepreneurial and creative skills.

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Better Funding for Schooling

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 08/09/2016 1470748219
Tags: funding  education 
I suggest that there be better funding for schooling for young ones because many people are unable to further their schooling due to a lack of funds o .... Read more

I suggest that there be better funding for schooling for young ones because many people are unable to further their schooling due to a lack of funds or they end up having tons of student loans to pay off for many years.

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Use BI to Identify and Fund Innovators in Industry Canada Database

Question:How can Canada become the best country in attracting and developing talent?
on 08/01/2016 1470083338
Tags: funding 
Industry Canada needs to use business intelligence to identify innovative businesses (specifically Canadian businesses of any size building things fro .... Read more

Industry Canada needs to use business intelligence to identify innovative businesses (specifically Canadian businesses of any size building things from scratch), evaluate and figure out how to support (and maybe creatively fund) them.

The growing problem is that it is impossible to compete with foreign businesses in low cost of living zones as potential customers (of a product or service) will always seek to buy from the cheapest source, and quality of supply (and of live) will always improve over time.  Without tariffs to fix the problem, the alternative is government subsidies (a terrible thing for businesses seeking to operate independently). It is not possible to sustain a business without a growing customer base, and it is not possible to employ people without incoming funds.

We need to employ Canadians as a first priority.  They are well educated.  But the cost of labour kills the budget of a business.  So most owners of small innovative companies are forced to do the required labour themselves instead of focusing on running the business, resulting in stagnation and growing personal debt.  A huge personal sacrifice for must individuals committed to being an entrepreneur.

Note that

1.  in a competitive environment, small companies do not have the resources or time to wade through vast imprecise information sources for assistance (it is why the investment should go to Industry Canada to have the business intelligence to identify, evaluate and help struggling companies); and

2.  the loans from financial sources for business development (eg. BDC) are too expensive, and/or the funding for intellectual property (trademark, etc.) are non-existent.

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Bubble-up Fermentation, Not Cream-Skimming

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 06/23/2016 1466706094
Too often supporting entrepreneurs is done through an incubation process that involves a committee that selects 'promising' projects from a field of c .... Read more

Too often supporting entrepreneurs is done through an incubation process that involves a committee that selects 'promising' projects from a field of contenders. The statistics on such incubation approaches is clear - the results are poor, with very few succeeding beyond the support period, and fewer still still functioning after two years. 

This 'cream-skimming' approach is inferior to a bubble-up approach. This would entail a low-bar of acceptance into a 'co-working + resources' environment, where all have access to support, coaching and basic infrastructure. From this environment, the 'experts' can be as out of the way or as helping as needed. Strong entities will survive on their own merits, rather than weak entities with good schmooze-skills being propped up in a traditional incubator.

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