Frustration boils over in Nunavut
Inuit small business owners in Nunavut took aim on Tuesday at government officials and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), a corporation established to ensure that the promises made to the Inuit under Article 24 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement are fulfilled.
The Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti (NNI) policy gives priority to Inuit companies when awarding contracts, and it was at the centre of Tuesday’s roundtable debate, reports David Murphy of Nunatsiaq Online. Inuit firms are defined by NTI as limited companies with at least 51 per cent of voting shares owned by Inuit, a co-operative controlled by Inuit, or an Inuk sole proprietorship or partnership
“What’s ‘Inuit Firm’ status? It’s a joke. It’s not defined properly,” said former Nunavut cabinet minister Manitok Thompson, adding businesses claim to be from Nunavut even when they operate from elsewhere.
A review of the Nunavut government’s contracting process is now under way. “I hear from contractors every week with the problems they’re having,” NNI secretariat executive coordinator Ron Dewar said. “I understand that it’s a policy that has problems, we know that.”
Mr. Dewar explained during the roundtable that his office is understaffed and as a result it is unable to do proper due diligence on contracts.
NTI policy advisor Travis Cooper told Nunatsiaq Online he hopes the roundtable will be a step toward a solution. The meeting continues Wednesday.
‘Patent trolls’ disrupt small firms
Non-practicing entities, or NPEs, also known as “patent trolls,” have traditionally helped small inventors profit from their work. But according to a Boston University School of Law study entitled The Direct Costs from NPE Disputes, patent assertions are becoming extremely costly not only to big firms in the United States, but also small and medium-sized businesses, to the tune of about $29 billion (U.S.) a year. The reseachers used information from defendants and a comprehensive database of lawsuits to determine the substantial costs of litigation as well as indirect charges such as such as diversion of resources, delays in new products, and loss of market share. The median company sued had $10.8 million in annual revenue, 82 per cent of the defendants had less than $100 million in revenue, and these firms accounted for 50 per cent of the defences. The study also found little evidence to suggest NPEs promote invention, and that while much of the litigation involves “nuisance suits” that settle for a few hundred thousand dollars, some NPEs are “big game hunters” who seek and get settlements in the tens or hundreds of million of dollars.
Record canola crop expected this year
In its release of preliminary estimates of this year’s field crops, Statistics Canada reports record canola acreage, an increase in wheat, rising barley seeding, and a boost for soybean and corn. Farmers in the Prairies had either planted, or intended to plant, a record area of canola and larger areas of wheat, dry field peas, and barley as of June 7. Manitoba and Ontario farmers also reported seeding record areas of corn and soybeans. The area seeded in 2012 has returned to levels seen before the 2011 floods in parts of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Estimates could change for the July report, to be released Aug. 22, because farmers have pointed out that seeding had not been completed at the time of the most recent survey, and seeding in some regions of the Prairies was delayed by rain and wet conditions from 2011. Good news for farmers so far, no matter how you slice it. For more information and to view the full report, check out the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters website.
EVENTS AND KEY DATES
Two companies chosen for startup camp
Calgary-based Boast Capital, which recently announced a partnership with Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley, has chosen two Canadian startups to join 13 other companies from the United States and Europe at a boot camp for entrepreneurs. Each business will receive $25,000 (U.S.) in funding, plus access to mentors and investors in Silicon Valley and Calgary. The companies are Pinerly, a marketing automation platform for Pinterest, and Willet, a social marketing automation tool that helps retailers convert social browsers into shoppers. The program begins in Calgary in late fall.
Accelerator program takes applications
Extreme Startups is now accepting applications for the next cohort in its Toronto-based accelerator program. Companies chosen will get access to resources, mentorship from successful serial entrepreneurs, $50,000 up front and up to another $150,000 upon completion of the 12-week course. The five spots are given primarily to technology-oriented companies with a focus on web or mobile-based software, but Extreme is open to applications in any space “with compelling ideas and solutions.” If you have a tenacious, fast-moving team, you have until Aug. 1 to apply.
EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS
The real question? “Why now?”
Most people take ‘build something people want’ to mean ‘pick a problem to solve and solve it well.’ This is not sufficient to build a world-changing company. ‘Why now?’ is the question entrepreneurs really need to answer, because it encompasses two important and closely related concepts: Why have previous attempts at this idea failed? What enabling factors have emerged that enable you to succeed today?
FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES
It’s tough up there
Forget New York city as the entrepreneur’s go-to success barometer. Making it in the Big Apple is a breeze compared with hanging out a shingle in one of Canada’s northern communities, as Kira Vermond discovered in this feature from February.
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