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small business briefing

The skyline of downtown Calgary taken Sept. 9, 2010.Chris Bolin Photography Inc.

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A new Canada-U.S. partnership emerges

Calgary-based Boast Capital has partnered with the Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley to launch Startup Camp Canada.

The hybrid accelerator program will provide Canadian startups time in Calgary and Silicon Valley, provide access to more than 180 venture capital firms and angel investors, including Accel Partners and Sand Hill Angels, and get them in front of entrepreneurs from companies such as YouTube and Skype, as well as a community of leading universities and corporate partners.

Startup Camp Canada will be launched in two phases:

  • Phase one is a 10-week acceleration program in Silicon Valley, beginning June 18, which includes workshops, speaker series, mentorship sessions and active coaching.
  • Phase two is a 16- to 18-week Calgary-Silicon Valley hybrid program that starts mid-September. In Calgary, startups will participate in a Startup MBA curriculum of weekly courses on topics such as market discovery, business model design, sales and marketing, project management, pitching and raising capital.

Startup Camp participants are eligible to receive an investment of $25,000 upon acceptance into the program with opportunities for further investments.

Boast Capital is made up of a team of engineers and finance professionals with a background in software and manufacturing and more than 10 years of experience with successful SR&ED claims. It assists organizations of all sizes within the software engineering, IT, and manufacturing industries overcome a number of challenges.

"The Canadian government ranks Calgary as having the highest number of tech startups per capita," says Alex Popa, founder and partner at Boast Capital. "That, coupled with a highly educated and motivated work force, strong tech ecosystem, low health care costs, better labour and facility rates, easily available government grants and a quick flight between Calgary and the Valley, makes Calgarian startups quite intriguing to Silicon Valley VCs.

"We have some great success stories like Veer, Stumbleupon and iStockphoto, to name a few. Our goal is to have many such successes by building a world class tech ecosystem in Calgary and driving startups from around the world to move here."

The application deadline for Startup Camp Canada is June 5.

Restaurant group critizes frozen pizza funding

Dr. Oetker Canada, maker of frozen pizzas, desserts and dry baking mixes for retail and food service, on Thursday welcomed federal funding for its frozen pizza production facility in London, Ont. The plant will act as a production hub for its North American pizza operations, and the company says it will create at least 120 permanent jobs once the facility is up and running. The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario's Prosperity Initiative, as well as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's AgriProcessing Initiative, are contributing a combined $12-million. But not everyone's happy about it. In an open letter to Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association argues that the country's restaurant owners are already disadvantaged compared with frozen pizza manufacturers because of "unfair" federal policies. "Our members are deeply troubled that your government is using tax dollars, paid by our members, as a direct subsidy to their competitors who threaten their market share and ongoing businesses viability," CFRA's president and CEO Garth Whyte writes in the letter. "This is on top of the $7-million subsidy this same pizza manufacturer received from the Government of Ontario last year."

SecureKey secures $30-million

Toronto based SecureKey Technologies Inc. has secured $30-million in funding led by Intel Capital, Intel Corp.'s global investment organization. It includes contributions from Discover Financial Services, MasterCard, Visa Inc., Rogers Venture Partners LLC, and Telus Corp. SecureKey plans to expand development of secure touch-to-pay instant checkout and strong mutual authentication. The company has previously worked with Intel and MasterCard to embed PayPass technology on Intel devices, and it recently launched a new authentication service for the Government of Canada that allows Canadians to use bank authentication credentials to obtain access to online government services. "The serious risks of privacy violations, fraud and financial theft have significantly increased as more services requiring secure transactions are offered online," said David Flanagan, managing director of Intel Capital. "SecureKey's next-generation authentication solutions address these risks by enhancing the security and convenience of m- and e-commerce, helping to provide secure access to critical services such as online banking, e-health and e-government."


'Best of the best' in Indo Canadian community

The Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) is holding its annual Awards and Gala Night on June 9, at 6 p.m., at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The event recognizes the 'best of the best' in the community and honours outstanding Indo Canadian achievers from across Canada. Achievers will be honoured in categories including humanitarian of the year, top female and male entrepreneurs, best in technology, and top corporate executive. This year's theme is Engaging Partners, Implementing Strategies, and Honorable Joe Oliver, Canada's Minister for Natural Resources, will be the chief guest, while Phaneesh Murthy, president and CEO of iGATE-Patni serves as keynote speaker. Cost for members is $150, and non-members $200.

What to consider before an IPO

Going public? Is your company prepared to deliver? There can be pitfalls and the stakes are high. Now more than ever, a strong corporate governance function, which includes assembling qualified independent board members, is critical for initial public offering (IPO) candidates. The Institute of Corporate Directors and Ernst & Young is holding a one-hour interactive webinar highlighting questions directors need to consider before an IPO and answer the question: "Are we prepared to deliver?" The session takes place June 4, at 13:00 EDT. To register, you need to provide an email address.


Canada's innovation gap: better or worse?

A stronger emphasis on development by governments and research-funding organizations may be helping Canadian entrepreneurs get their innovations to market faster. But experts say a stubborn innovation gap remains, particularly in life sciences. "An awareness of the need for enhanced commercialization has certainly grown in the past two to five years," said Daniel Muzyka, dean of the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. "But it's still unclear whether we're speeding up the process."


Physician melds research and entrepreneurship

In April, 2010, Dr. Calvin Stiller spoke to The Globe and Mail about the challenges of entrepreneurship, how to recognize a failing project, and the keys to being a success, whether or not you're in the field of biotechnology.

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