Comment 51234

By adrian (registered) | Posted November 06, 2010 at 13:57:22

There are a few positive developments taking place right now that may help. The Innovation Factory just opened up with a mandate to help create and assist startups and small and medium sized enterprises in various sectors. They'll offer advice, mentoring, access to investors, etc. Eight is another interesting initiative to make the city a leader in interactive digital media - several institutions including Mac and Mohawk are participating, and I just learned that IBM has recently joined in as well.

Ryan, you started off with a few ideas: "a regulatory environment that makes it easy to start a business and adapt a property, a culture of entrepreneurship, an open network of creative business and technical cofounders, a pool of angel investors and venture capitalists to give nascent businesses a starting push, well-defined pathways from local schools into business, and so on." I'd argue that we already have a regulatory environment that makes it extremely easy to start a business, and there are plenty of places to do it. We also have a culture of entrepreneurship, to a pretty significant degree; however, most entrepreneurs are not starting innovative businesses but are more service- and retail-focused.

We definitely need better networks, more access to capital, and improvements to our ability to keep graduates of our colleges and universities in the city. To this list I would add:

  1. Affordable places from which to operate a business (office space, commercial/industrial space, etc.) I think we do pretty well on this score.
  2. Affordable housing. I think we do great on this.
  3. Compelling entertainment options (and by that I don't mean a stadium in an innovation park).
  4. More opportunity for smaller players. There's a definite old boys network culture here in the city and it stifles new and young companies by preferentially awarding contracts and business to long-established firms.
  5. Access to clients.
  6. Vision and visionaries.
  7. Access to advanced technology that you don't necessarily have to own, e.g. the ability to access machinery that can do precision manufacturing. Entrepreneurs in Shenzhen greatly benefit from access to facilities that are manufacturing electronics and other advanced products.
  8. Access to research; commercialization of research. Better partnerships between McMaster and the private sector are key. Eight is a good start.

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