Monday, December 14, 2009

Just How Pressing Is the Immigrant Entrepreneur Issue?

There appears to be a widening gap between the rate of innovation in Canada and the rest of the world. The statistics should scare the bejesus out of you.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) reports that in 2008, 77,501 patent applications were filed in the US PTO by resident Americans.

To match the same rate of innovation as Americans, Canadian residents would have to file 8,488 patent applications during that same period. We fall short by a large margin: in 2007 a total of just under 5000 patent applications were filed in Canada, and 90% of those were filed by non-residents.

Now, there's a lot of challenges to these numbers that can be made- not all innovations are patentable, many Canadian companies file in the US and by-pass Canada, some of the non-resident applicants are really filing innovations by Canadian employees, etc. But as a raw measure of innovation, WIPO's numbers still highlight a compelling and troubling gap between inventions by Canadians versus others.

Let me put it another way (or more accurately, let me quote other WIPO data): For every million Canadians, 151 patents are filed. That's a low, low number when you compare it with the following:

Country : # patent applications/million residents
United States : 800.17
Germany : 581.67
Israel : 224.93
Ireland : 193.99
France : 238.58
Finland : 341.10

What is the rate of innovation that we need to maintain in order to be proportionately competitive with other innovation economies? That's somethign people who don't have clients can debate. Me, I'm just going to point out the yawing gap between Canada and Finland (Finland?!? This isn't hockey! On sheer numbers of daylight hours alone we should have more inventions than they). But the compelling fact for me about these numbers if they cry for a proactive immigration policy that will clsoe teh gap.

Monday, December 07, 2009

RIM Accessories I WOULD Buy

I remain mystified by RIM's accessories strategy. The Blackberry store is touting some pretty basic stuff as being "authentic" and, therefore, good. "Authentic" accessories apparently are smart looking and smart thinking. If these were, say, cowboys, I'd be intrigued.

Here's what I think RIM should do instead: send a big fat check to Newfoundland, care of Nonia knits, and have the ladies spend this year knitting trigger mitts. There are only so many moose hunters out there who need mittens that allow you to use your thumb and trigger finger. However, the number of Blackberry Storm users grows daily. Sell them next Xmas as Blackberry mittens, and even use a portion of the proceeds for another donation (money from sales by Nonia goes to local healthcare). They're black, they're fashionable, and they're fun. If the Bay can convince everyone that red mittens are a fun item, RIM can.

Start-Up Holiday Guide 2009

Still gift shopping? Here are our recommendations for the entrepreneurs in your life, gifts that not only show that you care, but also show your support for the Canadian innovation scene:

1. A Very Beta Xmas

Toronto's Cignias has launched its music station line of products - iPod- and iPhone-ready speaker systems with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless features. The Nao Symphony ($299) includes support for stereo Bluetooth streaming, plus traditional wired connections through an iPod-charging dock and an auxiliary input on back.

I tech news notes; "The novelty here is the Wi-Fi: an Infrared remote control is included to control the docked iPod, but if you prefer to have full library navigation access, you can use an iPod touch or iPhone from afar to control whatever's in the dock; a free MusicNao application can be downloaded from the App Store for wireless remote control purposes."

2. Mereadesso - Because Even Innovators Need to Exfoliate

MAC has turned out to be the Nortel of cosmetics; its alumni continue to spin out new and innovative beauty start-ups,and the latest, Mereadesso, will deliver just in time for Xmas if you act now. Mereadesso's first products comprise one of the best skin care lines I've ever seen. As well it should; its founder (a MAC alumni) has degrees in chemistry and botany, and past stints that include product development and senior roles at Estee Lauder.

3. Pre-HOHOTO: Support Canada's Social Philanthropy Pioneers

NONIA knits was established in the 1920s to raise funds for paying the salaries of public health nurses who provide health care to Newfoundland's remote communities. It's one of the earliest examples of Canadian social philanthropy: women providing products which in turn support other women. A non-profit, NONIA still works today with 175 knitters and weavers in Newfoundland producing all manner of handknit items.

My favourite? The trigger mitters, which are not only good for hunting, but also for attending to cell phones and blackberries in Canadian winters.

4. . Because You haven't Hugged Your Lawyer Today

I want one for our meeting room, I can't even describe for you how much. Captain James T. Kirk's chair comes with all the buttons and controls you could ask for, plus sound effects (photon torpedoes!) and even pre-taped commands ("Mr. Spock! Report!"). Only 1700 or so are being made, and one of them should be mine. Do me a favour, and send one to a lawyer who's helped your business so at least someone can live out my dream.