Scorecard and Existing Reports

November 10, 2019 17:32 By Aaron

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:

This article will focus on the Innovation Compass and the EACOS Position Paper as they are the most relevant and in-scope for Rainforest.
Innovation Compass

In this blog post, we examine how the Innovation Compass Recommendations align within the context of the Rainforest Pillars. The Compass Report concludes with 14 recommendations that their efforts determined would support tech-based entrepreneurs in Edmonton:

  1. Encourage pools of private investors from all sectors to move off the sidelines and start investing in local tech 
  2. Find ways to deploy government funding and support of the ecosystem in ways that better align to the needs of entrepreneurs.
  3. Make it extremely easy for innovators to benefit from and build on the IP they develop at post-secondary institutions.
  4. Facilitate more direct mentoring by entrepreneurs who have recent experience successfully founding and building tech companies.
  5. Invest in the establishment of a tech accelerator with a model proven in other jurisdictions.
  6. Reshape the mandates and governance models of service providers to be as agile as possible with the goal of meeting the evolving needs of the ecosystem.
  7. Foster an environment where companies can launch easily and fail fast.
  8. Develop a single window to communicate the entirety of services, programs and supports within the ecosystem available to entrepreneurs.
  9. Persistently communicate the ecosystem’s success stories – small or large – to both external and internal audiences.
  10. Establish funding and initiatives that encourage a predominantly relationship-based culture between entrepreneurs across the ecosystem.
  11. Facilitate opportunities for entrepreneurs at every stage to build applicable skills in practical areas (e.g., coding) and business skills (e.g., customer development).
  12. Shift the service provider focus to securing local, national and international customers for entrepreneurs.
  13. Formalize, fund and strengthen a mandate for an entrepreneur-led tech industry association.
  14. Focus the ecosystem around  supporting identified pillars of strength, rather than diluting 
EACOS Position Paper

Through community consultation and extensive discussion, EACOS have identified three main categories of need in order for the Edmonton tech community to grow:

  1. Strong Community
  2. Service Provider Alignment
  3. Entrepreneur Preparedness and Access to Capital

EACOS vs. Innovation Compass

Looking at the Innovation Compass recommendations and EACOS in particular, there is very strong alignment and overlap. In fact:

Only recommendation #3, "Make it extremely easy for innovators to benefit from and build on the IP they develop at post-secondary institutions", does not clearly and directly align with an EACOS Priority Area, although it could be argued that this might fall under Service Provider Alignment (by aligning U of A priorities with those of their researchers and potential entrepreneurs).

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

Strong Community

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.
They advocate for:
  • 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 Alignm​ent

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.

Next Steps

Help us gauge the success of the initiatives that have been undertaken, and update our score for the ecosystem by completing the Scorecard Assessment.

Get Started Now

Conclusions and Next Steps