Will The U.S. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program work in Canada?

Posted on July 11, 2017

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“Many Canadian startups say it’s harder to sell to Ottawa than to foreign customers . . . Current procurement approaches are geared toward big, established firms and [are] cumbersome and complicated for smaller firms to navigate.” – December 27th, 2016 Globe And Mail article

Tech Start-Up

It is said that recognizing a problem is half the battle.

While I agree that you can’t fix what you don’t accept has been broken, the real challenges when it comes to government engaging small business is far more complicated than an acknowledgment that something needs to change.

What I am saying is that well-intentioned announcements, budget requests of $300 million and tinkering with the Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP) so that it becomes more like the U.S. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program in and of itself may not be enough.

What is really needed is a collaborative framework involving all stakeholders in which a bonafide methodology of engagement can be implemented on an everyday practical level.

As we have seen in the past, without such foundational elements in place, overarching initiatives such as the one being proposed by Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains tend to collapse under the weight of its lofty expectations.

I will be following this story closely in the coming months, including the review of a series of NAP books on SBIR starting with the 1999 publication The Small Business Innovation Research Program: Challenges and Opportunities through to a 2016 update by the Department of Energy regarding the DoE SBIR program’s operations.

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