P.E.I.'s IT sector 'leaving opportunity on the table'
'It confirms some of the concerns that we've had'
There's more that could be done to support the information technology sector on Prince Edward Island, says the former head of the province's industry association.
A report from Statistics Canada issued earlier this month showed P.E.I.'s digital economy grew at a faster rate than the national average from 2010 to 2015, but that growth levelled off in the following two years.
The sector's GDP grew 29 per cent from 2010 to 2017. The number of jobs over that period was up 35 per cent to 1,876.
"The sector's still doing really, really well, but I think we're leaving opportunity on the table and there's more that can be done to support it," said Paul Lypaczewski.
Lypaczewski was the executive director of the Innovation and Technology Association of Prince Edward Island when it shut down in 2016, after the provincial government stopped funding it. He is currently with Island Capital Partners, which invests in early-stage companies.
"It confirms some of the concerns that we've had in general about some of the potential for the IT sector on Prince Edward Island and how we can make the most of it," Lypaczewski said of the Statistics Canada report.
Sharing best practices
He does not draw a direct line from the closing of ITAP to the slowing of the sector, but said that slowing suggests the IT industry needs more help than it is getting.
An industry association, he said, could help recruit new employees for the sector from off-Island, work with post-secondary institutions to train Islanders, and provide a venue for people in the industry to share ideas.
"There are a lot of people who can share those best practices and help raise the overall level of productivity of the overall industry," said Lypaczewski.
One area where P.E.I. has been lagging, said Lypaczewski, is in converting good ideas into commercial products.