It’s no secret that Edmonton’s technology and innovation industry is poised to become a major player in the global market. With companies like BioWare and Scope AR already known around the world and many more throwing their hat into the ring each year, the possibility for Edmonton’s technology future is quickly expanding.
One major problem, however, is foreign intervention — be it from America, China, or anywhere else outside of Canada. All too often, small tech startups’ biggest goals are to be acquired by larger companies like Google or Huawei. As good as this may seem on the surface — with the higher-ups in these startups walking away with a cool million or two in their pocket — there are plenty of issues that arise.
In an article from the Globe and Mail, writers Neil Desai and Graeme Moffat have this to say:
“The growing presence of foreign multinationals has devastating effects on scaling Canadian tech companies. Our companies already face higher hurdles in accessing capital. Now they are facing an increasing talent crunch. Ultimately, the increased presence of foreign giants in our own backyard restricts their ability to grow to a scale that sustains meaningful technical and non-technical job and wage growth for Canadians. Under this reality, early acquisition seems to be the preferred business strategy for Canadian tech entrepreneurs. This will have long-term consequences to our national prosperity and maintaining our standard of living.”
In other words, selling out to large multinational corporations will cause major problems for our local economy, and is just not sustainable. Nor does it promote real growth in the city we love. On top of that, it gives foreign investors power over a city they have no real interest in besides making a profit.
A good example of this is the Vancouver real estate industry. According to stats Canada, non-residents own 7.1% of Vancouver’s property, and this may be one of the major reasons why Vancouver is so unaffordable to live in. The benchmark price for a detached home is just over $1.5 million, and an average apartment is around $667,800—and that’s not something we want to see in Edmonton.
But what does that mean for local investors? At its core, it means that we as Edmontonians need to band together and foster support for these local companies, be it through investment or others ways. For Edmonton’s technology and innovation market to grow and be sustainable, it needs support from the local community. In the long run, local investment not only benefits our city itself, but also pays back to local investors instead of faceless foreign companies that will never return the favour.