Canada's tech sector: more protection needed?Click image to enlarge

Two prominent Canadian policymakers – one Conservative and one Liberal – have joined up to call on Ottawa to do more to protect the country’s technology sector.

Sean Speer, a top economic adviser under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, and Robert Asselin, a longtime aide to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the main policy adviser to Finance Minister Bill Morneau for two years, believe Canada’s technology sector should be protected from the distorting effects of foreign investment the way the country’s banking, broadcasting and telecommunications sectors are.

As reported by Valley News, Speer and Asselin published a report last week for the Public Policy Forum warning about the loss of intellectual property to foreign players and potential harm to Canada’s competitiveness in an economy more and more dependent on and other “intangible assets.”

Speer and Asselin call on Ottawa to take steps to keep intellectual property and data in this country, while fostering the development of Canadian technologies protected from foreign takeovers.

Steps would include restricting the use of public monies for research by foreign tech firms, using public procurement to favour domestically developed technology and the application of tougher criteria for foreign acquisitions that could negatively affect the “broader innovation ecosystem.”

“Creating innovation assets and then divesting them before commercialization or losing out on the potential to grow companies to global scale is a failure of innovation policy,” Speer and Asselin say in the report. “This is the difference between being a landlord nation of the new intangibles economy or a tenant nation.”

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