Lobby group calls for federally funded R&D accelerator

A Canadian innovation lobby group is calling on the federal government to create an accelerator for startups that want to commercialize research and development from government scientists, engineers and technologists.

The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance wants the facility to be built in the National Capital Region so it can benefit both the public and private sector R&D that is already happening in the area.

“Canada has a well-known commercialization gap in which R&D does not get translated into commercially viable products,” CATA chief executive John Reid said in a statement. “There is an opportunity for the Canadian federal government to demonstrate leadership in addressing the commercialization gap through the launch of a Canadian government R&D accelerator.”

In a release issued Monday, CATA listed a number of potential benefits from having such an accelerator, including creating a technology commercialization test bed for policy makers in Canada’s public service. The organization said the proposed facility would also be “a vote of confidence” for government scientists and a showcase for “Canadian innovation in action.”

CATA said such an accelerator would also create a core of entrepreneurs who know how to work with the government and contribute to “urban revitalization.”

Software and digital media startups would be a natural fit for the startup, CATA said, and Mr. Reid said the facility shouldn’t require a lot of federal investment to launch.

“One of the beauties of accelerators is that they typically operate on a shoestring budget,” he said.

Mr. Reid will have the opportunity to lobby directly to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains when Mr. Bains appears May 26 at the 31st annual  CATAAlliance Innovation and Leadership Awards Gala at Carleton University.

Mr. Bains addressed the issue of commercializing the country’s research and development efforts during a speech at the Mayor’s Breakfast last Thursday. The Mississauga MP told a sellout crowd at City Hall Canadian industry needs to spend more on R&D and do a better job of turning that research into products it can sell to the world.