Sir Terry Matthews sent out a rallying call to more than 200 people at the Mayor’s Breakfast Thursday morning.
The Wesley Clover International and Mitel chairman, who received a standing ovation from the crowd, had a clear message.
Invest in Ottawa tech now.
Mr. Matthews, founder or funder of more than 100 tech companies in the region and beyond, professed his love for Ottawa as “a great place to live,” with top-tier technology talent. When Nortel and other tech stars in the city faltered, he insisted, that talent didn’t disappear.
“Some of you may say, well, these are icons and now they’re down. But this is a nice place to live, and (talented workers) stayed here,” Mr. Matthews said.
The city is, however, failing to retain many of its post-secondary students who see the shores of Silicon Valley as a more attractive place to head after graduation.
“That is clunko,” bemoaned Mr. Matthews.
The technology magnate highlighted recent Ottawa-led advancements as proof that there is a renaissance in the industry. Mitel’s voice over wi-fi developments and Alcatel-Lucent’s optical fibre advancements are two cases where local tech is flourishing.
“This is an outstanding year of change,” he said. “I have never been this busy because there’s a revolution going on.”
That revolution is reaching markets around the world. Mr. Matthews made it clear that any business hoping to make it in Ottawa needs to make it internationally, too.
“Tech companies have to be global. Go global fast,” he said.
The last piece of advice Mr. Matthews offered? If you’re not in tech, get into it. Because that’s where Ottawa's economy is heading.
“I highly recommend that you recognize what the future of this city is.”