Innovation: Breakfast series speaker urges business leaders to let the world know what they're doing
December 20, 2010

Monday December 20th, 2010

John Reid, president and CEO of Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance, told members of the business elite last week they need to bring their success stories out for the world to hear. 'You've got some key leaders and some key technologies in New Brunswick, and the story has to be told.' Photo: Keith Minchin/For the Telegraph-Journal

New Brunswick companies looking to attract more companies or investment need to work harder at sharing their success stories with the world, says the head of Canada's largest high-tech association.

"You've got some key leaders and some key technologies in New Brunswick, and the story has to be told," John Reid, president and CEO of the Ottawa-based Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance, said.

"I think there are many success stories here that seem to be hidden, yet their marketplace is global."

Reid was one of two special guest speakers at the inaugural CEO Breakfast Series event hosted by the Carlisle Institute last Wednesday morning in Fredericton.

A distinguished crowd of roughly 100 people - including business leaders from across the province, members of the academia community and Premier David Alward - attended the event at the Killarney Lake Rotary Centennial Lodge, aimed at bringing speakers with interesting perspectives to an audience of New Brunswick's business elite.

Reid heads a national organization with more than 1,000 individual members nationwide who pool their expertise and share resources in an effort to help small and medium-sized businesses in Canada grow.

He held a question and answer period with those in attendance, focusing on ways New Brunswick businesses can get on board with CATA's "innovation nation" program, which looks to advance Canada's innovation performance from middle of the pack to a global leader.

For New Brunswick, growing the innovation sector will require companies to change their attitude and embrace the various resources that are available to them.

"I think it's a mixed report card," Reid said of New Brunswick's business environment.

"You may have some changes here; you've got a premier here who fully understands the value of innovation. The attitude is one of change, but the economics are difficult here. You're under a lot of competitive pressure, more so than the rest of Canada," Reid said.

"But the positive side of that is you can turn that around pretty quickly by just doing a few simple things correctly."

For starters, the tech expert said, New Brunswickers need to get better at marketing their products.

"The key is, when you have a successful technology, tell the story to the world," he said.

"Link to all the social media resources in order to get some more leverage for your business. It really is about embracing a new model of doing business. With social media, you can get this message out very quickly and very powerfully, and maybe that will lead you to a new customer."

Equally as important to getting successful stories out in the global forum is the need for businesses in Atlantic Canada to learn from other's experiences in order to expedite growth.

"Why do you have to learn it yourself? Benefit from people that have gone through those experiences and maybe you can be small part in providing some of those resources," Reid said.

That's where CATA comes into play. The national association officially launched its first Atlantic office last Monday. Headquartered in Halifax, regional director of communications Emily Boucher said CATA Atlantic will focus on opening up global opportunities for technology firms.

"There are so many smaller companies in Atlantic Canada that can be the next big one, and they can use the national and international resources we have to grow," Boucher said.
"At the breakfast we were able to see all the innovative thinkers that are in this province and the vision that they see for this province; it's really quite moving and I really see how CATA can help."