The rationale for BCIC’s support of startups

by Greg Aasen and Danny Robinson
February 3, 2011

Training our entrepreneurs and helping them through the very risky early stages of a startup is a logical extension of our support for higher education. In fact it seems quite illogical to spend so much on their formal education and then lose many of the most aggressive and talented students to places like Silicon Valley. Economic growth, innovation, and jobs are driven by entrepreneurs, but only very few end up starting a company right out of school. We plan to put a strong entrepreneurial infrastructure in place in order to convert some of this great talent into local startups. This flow of startups is the source of our next great anchor companies. Many will fail but the talent will continue to contribute to our high tech economy. We need programs to fill the funding gap between NSERC university programs and Angel funding. Funding this gap is unlikely to give a direct financial return to an investor. But, as we describe below, the community benefits no matter the outcome. That is why government is the only entity in a position to get a return on this investment.

The SR&ED program has been extremely useful for startups who have some funding. IRAP and WD fund some of the early stage startups. NSERC has increased its emphasis on commercial partnerships. The provincial government of BC has started some pilot programs to fund early stage entrepreneurs through BCIC. BC also started a very successful tax rebate program to incentivize Angels to invest more. A proposal for a similar federal program looks good. We are seeing positive changes that we need to accelerate if we want to become the best place in the world to start and grow a technology company.

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