Perhaps we should be a little insulted. There’s a section in Wednesday’s federal budget that highlights how a multitude of measures aimed at accelerating innovation are supposed to work.
The government wants us to create innovation superclusters — “dense areas of business activity” capable of attracting the very best talent and companies from around the world. To give us an idea of what these look like, the budget lists four urban areas that have already achieved this distinction: California’s Silicon Valley, Berlin, Tel Aviv and the Toronto-Waterloo corridor.
A nod in the direction of the capital region would have been nice. While it’s true Ottawa and Gatineau long ago lost the distinction of being the planet’s most important supercluster in matters of telecommunications technology, the cities’ innovators are mounting an impressive comeback.
Ottawa remains the most tech-intensive in the country, meaning a higher percentage of its workers — eight per cent — are employed in the tech industry compared to less than six per cent in the Toronto-Waterloo corridor.
Yes, there are fewer numbers here — 44,000 compared to 200,000. But in these matters, density counts. And Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s budget looks particularly well-suited for the capital region.
For starters, it includes measures to expedite the immigration of skilled workers along with a sharp rise in the provision of venture capital through the federal Business Development Bank. Morneau has also earmarked nearly $1 billion to be spent over the next five years to help cities develop superclusters.
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