Ashley and I attended the 5th Annual East Coast Toronto Alumni Reception downtown last night and had a fantastic time. It’s always great to catch up with former classmates and administrators, but we also got to meet some new (to us) faces. We heard remarks from Dr. Currie and Dr. Campbell, who spoke on the future of New Brunswick and UNB. I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Campbell afterwards and we had a great chat. He told me about a new incubator project at the University, the Pond-Deshpande Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This is exactly the kind of thing New Brunswick needs and I applaud everyone involved in making this happen.
Schools are perfect places to start businesses because they can spring out of classrooms. You can explore an area of interest for academic credit while trying to make a business out of the same effort. If I had known what Angel investors were or how equity worked, or had the support to start my own business as a student, I could’ve been my own co-op employer. If I had been teamed up with a business-oriented student or young alumnus in Fredericton, we could have brought wealth into the province from the global IT market.
The New Brunswick ICT field has some recent successes to celebrate. The recent acquisitions of Q1 Labs and Radian6 are astounding, and New Brunswick should be proud to have had fostered such successful companies. Unfortunately, these are exceptions; it’s a fact that most companies do fail, in any province. The solution is to provide startup funding to many companies because eventually you’ll have another Radian6, which is exactly what this Centre of Innovation and Entrepreneurship can provide.
Miramichi, of all places, is also in the spotlight today, as individuals there are creating an Angel Investment Fund. This is fantastic news, and I wish them the best.
Obliging young people to stay in New Brunswick isn’t the way to help the province grow. You can’t just expect young people, like myself, to stay and fix the province. These initiatives are encouraging young people to stay by giving them a chance at a prosperious future in the region.
This kind of proactive action is exactly what New Brunswick needs to turn itself around from a “potato and oil barron” province. I can’t stress enough how happy I am to see this, and I hope people involved reach out to students at UNB who might have the next $300 million idea.