The House

The House Road Trip: Day 3 (plus the midweek podcast!)

On our third day on the road, we explore the idea of an innovation budget. What do entrepreneurs in Kitchener-Waterloo need from the federal government? We also ask RIM founder Jim Balsillie if he thinks Ottawa is heading in the right direction when it comes to innovation. Finally, Chris Hall and House senior producer Nick Gamache bring you a special "road trip" edition of the midweek podcast.
Jim Balsillie, co-founder of RIM. (Reutrers)

This week, we're doing something different on the show. We're leaving the so-called Ottawa bubble and touring parts of southern Ontario to hear what Canadians want to see in the upcoming federal budget. We're also getting our colleagues across the country to do the same. Every day we'll publish a travel log about some of the things we're hearing.

Day 3 10 a.m. 

Is the federal government heading in the right direction when it comes to innovation?

The founder of the Centre for International Governance Innovation says talking about encouraging innovation doesn't mean much if the government won't heed calls to implement an intellectual property strategy.

"Innovation without a national IP strategy is philanthropy. You invent it and invest in it and others get the benefits," said Jim Balsillie, the former co-CEO of Research In Motion, the Canadian company responsible for Blackberry.

The persistent critic of the government's approach to innovation said a national IP strategy is the base of a bucket.

"If you don't have a strategy for protecting and owning your intellectual property it doesn't matter how much input you put into it, it will always leak out," he said from his home in Guelph.

"Canada has put hundreds of millions of dollars of inputs into innovation over the past several decades and we've had zero growth, and we have to ask the reason why."

Day 3 12:15 p.m.

Kurtis McBride, CEO and co-founder of Miovision shows The House the equipment used to track traffic. He's invented a way to adjust an entire network of traffic lights in real time, according to real traffic conditions. (CBC)

Helping new companies scale up...

Making it easier for them to expand.

That was one of the key recommendations included in Dominic Barton's second report.

While the chair of Canada's Advisory Council on Economic Growth is pushing the Liberals to act on that front, entrepreneurs in Kitchener-Waterloo have the wrestle with reality on a daily basis.

Kurtis McBride, the CEO and co-founder of Miovision, echoed Balsillie's point that thinking needs to change in Ottawa.

His Kitchener-based company has created a way to adjust an entire network of traffic lights in real time, according to real traffic conditions. 

He says Canada has hundreds of start ups, but those waiting to jump to the next level need different kinds of assistance

"Rather than saying, 'Well if we we do things eventually scale ups will emerge, we need to say, 'What are the top 100 companies that are already in Canada, that are already winning globally and how do we make a slight change to procurement, to regulatory environments, to trade rules so that those companies expand rapidly," he said

"And ultimately the country benefits."

Day 3 15:00 p.m.

Adam Belsher, the CEO of Magnet Forensics, also had a few thoughts on what the federal government could do to help companies like his.

Magnet Forensics develops software that recovers data on hard drives and the internet for investigations by police, military and intelligence agencies.

Belsher is looking to partner with co-developers like the Canadian Border Service Agency and the RCMP as they continue to develop products to uncover child exploitation and terrorism quickly.

"There's a lot of risk for us, we have to invest a lot of money I would love a partner...There are lots of government agencies to partner with us who will go arm and arm with us, share the risk and help you build a solution that you can not only sell to Canadian companies and Canadian public safety but take it to the U.S… and sell the solution globally," he said from his office in Waterloo, Ont.

"Work with your indigenous Canadian companies to make them more successful. The Americans do this very well. The South Koreans do this well. The Israelis do this well. They help you get stronger so you can compete on the global stage in an effective way."

Midweek podcast

​After three days on the road, Chris Hall and the senior producer of The House, Nick Gamache, discuss what they have heard so far about Canadians would like to see in Finance Minister Bill Morneau's next budget.