Startup Canada  has provided a voice for entrepreneurs from coast-to-coast since May 2012, and today, that voice is strengthened with the launch of the Startup Canada Task Force. Startup Canada is a national, entrepreneur-led and volunteer-run organization working to enhance the nation’s competitiveness and prosperity by promoting a vibrant entrepreneurial culture. Its newest initiative, the Startup Canada Task Force, brings together key organizations in the national entrepreneurship ecosystem to increase the number of startups in Canada and accelerate their growth. It will do this by streamlining support for entrepreneurs through collaborative public education and government relations efforts.
“Entrepreneurship is a social activity wherein networks are everything,” said Victoria Lennox, CEO and co-founder of Startup Canada. “To date, while there are great support systems in place in our local and regional markets to support entrepreneurs, there is a lack of national coordination and knowledge-sharing. National collaboration is necessary to ensure Canada becomes and remains the best place in the world to start, operate and grow a business.”
The Startup Canada Task Force brings together Canada’s leading independent organizations representing venture capitalists, angel investors, business incubators, startup accelerators and university research parks. Fredericton-based entrepreneur Laura O’Blenis is the Chair of the Startup Canada Task Force, and its members include:
- Carol Stewart, President of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP) Canada
- Adam Chowaniec, Chairman of Startup Canada
- Richard Remillard, Executive Director of Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association
- Yuri Navarro, Executive Director of National Angel Capital Organization
- Michael Donahue, Senior Vice President of Canadian Association of Business Incubation
“The Startup Canada Task Force is a distinguished group of national leaders who both individually and collectively have a vision of advancing the national knowledge economy,” said O’Blenis. “The Startup Canada Task Force will advise decision makers and help to form better policies for entrepreneurs and startups. Our goal is to create top of mind awareness on issues that matter to our collective organizations so we may foster an environment that not only supports entrepreneurship as a viable career option, but provides access to the support network needed for entrepreneurs to thrive and survive in our economy from coast-to-coast.”
This supportive environment and network for entrepreneurs is becoming increasingly important as more young Canadians are considering entrepreneurship as a way to make a living. Millennials, who will represent 75 per cent of the labour force by 2028, are twice as likely as the average Canadian to start a business in the next year according to Startup Generation, How Millennials are remaking the Canadian economy, a report published in 2013 by Intuit, an independent financial management company for small businesses.
“This is a generational opportunity to increase entrepreneurship,” said O’Blenis. “Of particular importance to the Startup Canada Task Force are policies related to startup accelerators, startup communities, startup visas, social entrepreneurship and social innovation. Careful attention to all of these areas will enhance the nation’s overall competitiveness and economic success. Our ultimate objective is to fuel entrepreneurship and accelerate innovation.”
On Nov. 21 2013, Startup Canada will make history by bringing together the largest contingent of Canadian entrepreneurs ever to come to Parliament Hill, with the nation’s elected representatives for a national celebration manifesting the momentum, impact, and scale of the grassroots start-up movement in Canada, and a discussion on the crucial role government plays in maximizing entrepreneurial success. Held during Global Entrepreneurship Week, Startup Canada Day on the Hill  kick-starts collaborative action amongst entrepreneurs, stakeholders and government to advance the access entrepreneurs have to support systems and funding, and to foster a culture that understands, supports and celebrate entrepreneurial ambition.
Startup Canada will introduce O’Blenis as the Startup Canada Task Force Chair at Startup Canada Day on the Hill. O’Blenis will make a short presentation during the day’s Keynote Lunch in the Great Hall of the Government Conference Centre. The Keynote Lunch begins at 12 p.m. and O’Blenis will speak at 12:25 p.m. The Keynote Lunch also features remarks from Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney and interviews with leading Canadian entrepreneurs.
The Startup Canada Task Force will announce the addition of new members and rollout its 2014 priorities early in the new year. For more information, please contact Kathryn Forrest at 1-226-376-1895 or email kathryn-at-startupcan-dot-ca .