Nfld. & Labrador

Startup leaders optimistic about N.L's future, despite grim poll results

A new poll may have some Newfoundlanders and Labradorians feeling gloomy about the future, but two high-level workers in the province's emerging tech industry are more optimistic.

Genesis Centre and Sequence Bio CEO's feeling hopeful about where province is headed

Chris Gardner and Michelle Simms remain hopeful about the province's future. (CBC/Bruce Tilley)

A new poll may have some Newfoundlanders and Labradorians feeling gloomy about the future, but two leaders in the province's emerging tech industry are more optimistic.

Chris Gardner of medical startup Sequence Bio and Michelle Simms, president and CEO of the Genesis Centre, both said Friday that they'd have pegged themselves among the 29 per cent in a much-talked about Abucus poll who said they are hopeful for the province's future.

The survey, which polled residents of N.L. on where they see the province heading, has been making headlines this week after 53 percent of those surveyed said they believe the province is likely to go bankrupt within the next decade.

But Gardner and Simms are offering a decidedly sunnier view of the future, especially for their industry.

"There's some really exciting things happening right now in the technology sector," said Simms.

"Over the last 3 years we've seen an explosion of technology companies."

$4 million in new investment

As CEO of the Genesis Centre, a St. John's incubator for technology startups, Simms said she sees new ideas come through every week.

In the past 12 months, she said the centre had a role in the creation of 227 new jobs, and brought in more than $4 million dollars in investment.

The above graph, provided by Abacus Data, shows what people surveyed said are the issues facing N.L. (Abacus Data)

For Gardner, the past few years have also seen explosive growth for his company Sequence Bio.

Founded in 2013 with just two employees, the business, which studies illnesses and aims to come up with new medicines, has 23 employees today.

Simms and Gardner believe the technology sector is an area that the province should look to for growth and young people for a bright future. 

"I would tell them to get engaged in the technology sector, think big, get creative," said Simms.

"We're not done yet. We're Newfoundlanders. We're feisty and strong and we can come back fighting."

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Genesis Centre had a role in 227 jobs being created in the past three years. In fact, those jobs have all been created in the past 12 months.
    Feb 12, 2018 2:08 PM NT

With files from Anthony Germain