Steve’s Week in Policy: February 25, 2016

Steve Higham is a policy analyst with Mitacs. On the blog, he’ll frequently share links to interesting innovation policy-related articles, videos, podcasts, or websites. This week’s topic is entrepreneurship and start-ups in Canada.

Currently, the Canadian economy is facing some challenges, so figuring out strategies for growing our most innovative businesses (and subsequently creating jobs and attracting investment) makes good economic sense.

But how do we do that? Do business accelerators and incubators produce meaningful, measurable results? The federal and Ontario provincial governments commissioned a study to evaluate Canada’s start-up ecosystem and identify strategies for supporting entrepreneurs and growing start-ups.

The study (summarized in a Maclean’s article) found that there is room for improved collaboration among Canada’s many accelerators, incubators, and hubs. It also suggested that an increased emphasis on internationalization could help start-ups grow. It’s fitting, then, that a new joint initiative called Canada House will create a collaborative workspace for Canadian startups in Silicon Valley.

Although fostering international connections is a great idea, a low-value loonie and the state of the economy may stir fears of brain drain, where entrepreneurs leave Canada and take potential jobs and tax revenue with them. But at least one entrepreneur thinks that Canada remains a great place to start a business, citing strengths from outstanding access to top talent to the fact that we’re so gosh darned polite. 

Another important —but often overlooked — issue in entrepreneurship is the lack of female representation. Yes, it’s 2016, but men still outnumber women in the world of entrepreneurs and venture capital-backed startups. So what’s the deal? In a podcast interview, Ethan Mollick, management professor at Wharton Business School, discusses his research, which looks at how women and other underrepresented groups can overcome barriers to success.

Want to contribute to Steve’s Week in Policy? Send your feedback, ideas, or suggestions to shigham(at)


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