The rest of Atlantic Canada has a lot to learn from New Brunswick about developing startups.
That’s the conclusion that I came to after a quick visit to Fredericton this week. It’s an impression that’s been percolating for several years. All four Atlantic provinces can point to successful innovators and support organizations. But here are five features that make New Brunswick special:
1. Public-Sector Early Adopters. Finding early customers is utterly critical for young businesses and New Brunswick – Fredericton in particular – does a better job of helping than any other province. The region has too few established businesses to serve as early adopters, and most governments are resistant to new technology and can’t be bothered to assist local innovators. The New Brunswick government and City of Fredericton have been early supporters of such companies as HotSpot Parking, TotalPave and AppDigenous Development. I hear far more praise among New Brunswick entrepreneurs about working with the public sector than any other province.
2. Support for Indigenous Entrepreneurs. Fredericton is home to the Joint Economic Development Initiative, or Jedi, which runs the only tech accelerator for native entrepreneurs that I know of. It’s about to launch a new cohort in January, focusing more on scalable businesses than before. Plato Testing is employing First Nations people from across the country in its software testing business. Trevor Bernard, Fredericton-based CTO of blockchain company Braveno, was a finalist this year for the Startup Canada Indigenous Entrepreneur Award.
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