Economic Strategy - Digital technology table

Positioning Canada’s digital industries for economic growth


Tobias Lütke, Shopify


Federal Representatives:


November 21, 2017 Location: Shopify, Ottawa, ON


The table affirmed that technology has such a pervasive impact that it is more useful to describe a digital strategy rather than a digital sector. They would like to see a Digital strategy that supports and enables Canadian digital companies.

What we talked about

It was proposed that success could be achieving alignment across the education systems, business supports, social supports, and immigration practices around certain specializations by 2025. It was agreed that small course changes, over time, can have large effects.

  1. Scaling up—There was discussion on what size of firms have the most value, and what the right strategy(ies) would be for getting more firms to scale up. Could seed multiple start-ups then let the market play out or address gaps—financing, early markets, peer to peer ecosystem, incubation space, barriers to entry.
  2. IP and Data Strategy—Getting the policy environment right would be an enabler for global competitive advantage. The Canadian AI sector has deliberately taken an open IP approach, trading ownership for acceleration. IP ownership and non-Canadian firms vs using IP and data sets jointly to carve out a territory on a global scale. What are other countries doing?
  3. Digital Adoption—“Every company is a tech company; they just don’t all know it.” Identify and unblock the demand for new technology by Canadian incumbent firms. “Leapfrogging” generations was also discussed under this heading.
  4. Access to creative and digitally skilled talent—Discussions focussed on challenges in accessing certain key skilled talent, engaging and retaining more women and indigenous people in the tech sector.
  5. Making Canada the best place in the world for digital entrepreneurs—Entrepreneurial culture: how to ensure there are enough entrepreneurs with the transferable practical experience in growing firms. Inspiring entrepreneurs to grow vs having an early exit strategy. Building a Canadian cultural identity around digital entrepreneurship.

What we'll do next

Table members self-identified to join a taskforce for one of the above themes and to refine the vision for the Table. They will develop discussion papers by end of December. External engagement sessions will be planned for January to test these ideas and gather input from a wider audience. The January and March Table meetings will then take deeper dives to refine options.

The competitive advantage of any company is connected with their digital advantage. It’s not an industry, it’s a strategy
Digital Industries Table Member, November 21, 2017
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