How Do the Various Reports on Innovation Compare?
This article will take a brief look at the various reports on innovation that have been published in Edmonton over the last few months. We will explore how their results align and differ, and consider their alignment with the Rainforest Pillars.
First, What Are These Reports?
There have been many recent reports on how the Edmonton innovation ecosystem is supporting entrepreneurs and innovators. These reports identify various gaps in services, concerns about how these services support entrepreneurs and suggest opportunities for improvement. The most recent reports include:
- The Innovation Compass
- EACOS' Position Paper dated September 10th
- The Downtown Business Association (DBA) Report: Accelerating Technology in Downtown Edmonton
- The Auditor Report on Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC)
EACOS vs. Innovation Compass
Looking at the Innovation Compass recommendations and EACOS in particular, there is very strong alignment and overlap. In fact:
- the EACOS Priority of Deployment of Capital align with Recommendations #1 and 5
- the EACOS Priority of Service Provider Alignment align with Recommendations #2, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 14
- the EACOS Priority of Building a Strong Community align with Recommendations #4, 7, 9 and 13
Where the EACOS priorities do differ from the Compass is relating to the EACOS suggestions for activities of the entrepreneurs. As this blog post observes, the Compass is focused on building a list of recommended new initiatives to fill gaps in the ecosystem, primarily relating to Resources and Frameworks. In particular, issues related to Leadership and Culture are not addressed.
Indeed, past scorecard assessments have identified a trend that entrepreneurs do not undertake to be engaged and lead the ecosystem that is supposed to exist for their benefit. EACOS tackles this topic head-on, suggesting actions that they believe entrepreneurs should take to improve and get the most out of the ecosystem.
EACOS, In Greater Detail
Highlights from the EACOS website
EACOS believes in an entrepreneur lead ecosystem.
They suggest that:
- Entrepreneurs should be willing to invest time to instigate and attend events and also invite others from outside the community.
- Entrepreneurs should be willing to devote time to mentorship, advising, offering feedback, and educating.
- The ecosystem requires a sustainable amount of recurring informal events that allow people to casually come together and get to know each other. These events should not all involve alcohol.
- Initiatives that encourage entrepreneurs to connect and build meaningful, fulfilling relationships with peers, mentors, and friends.
- Investment in the promotion and attendance of entrepreneur-focused events in the city that foster relationships by all members of the community (as described above).
Service Provider Alignment
EACOS believes that the service providers (government-funded entrepreneurial support organizations) have a critical role to play in the growth and success of startups.
They suggest that service providers should:
- Clearly, transparently and consistently communicate their mandate, metrics and success stories, and how they align with the needs of the entrepreneur
- Assess their offerings, mandates and metrics, on at least an annual basis, through consultations, town halls, etc.
- Collaborate and align funding with other service providers and funders to ensure that the system is efficient, simple, has minimal and justified overlap, and has KPIs, mandates and visions which, although unique, are compatible and drive towards the goal of both increased throughput and growth of the startup ecosystem.
They suggest that entrepreneurs should:
- Be actively engaged and open-minded in discussions with the service provider community
- Strive to represent the collective interests of the community in discussions and consultations vs. their own company’s specific needs and issues
They suggest that government funders should engage current entrepreneurs in broader discussions on the objectives, goals, and purpose of the service provider community as a whole and encourage the service providers they support to:
- Be more communicative, transparent, and inclusive of the entrepreneurial community
- Proactively involve current entrepreneurs in their goal-setting and metric-setting exercises
Entrepreneur Preparedness and Access to Capital
EACOS believes that Increasing the Deployment of Private Capital is vital to the success of early-stage technology-based businesses.
They suggest the following:
- Create or attract an accelerator to Edmonton
- Increase access to mentorship, education, training and feedback for entrepreneurs seeking investment to make them more investment ready
- Educate tradition investors about investing in technology businesses
- Create more opportunities for investors to access opportunities in local entrepreneurs
- Increase risk reduction vehicles like the investor tax credit, Alberta Enterprise Corporation and others
- Attract external investors to Edmonton and showcase local entrepreneurs and tech-based companies
- Develop a strong pipeline of investor roadshows, events, education, and social opportunities. Service providers, C100/A100, and others can assist by enabling these activities for both local and external investors.
Help us gauge the success of the initiatives that have been undertaken, and update our score for the ecosystem by completing the Scorecard Assessment.