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2022 federal budget digest

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2022 federal budget digest

How the 2022 federal budget will impact the startup and innovation economy.


Last week, the federal government unveiled their long-awaited budget for 2022, which outlines a number of commitments for the Canadian tech and innovation economy.

The first budget since the Liberal’s re-election last fall, the 2022 budget focuses on growing the Canadian economy while aiming to make everyday life more affordable. Working to reduce its projected deficit, a majority of the government’s new commitments are program-focused, rather than large cash injections. 

We thought we would help out our community by breaking down the budget to highlight what should be on your radar, and how it will impact the startup and innovation economy.

The full federal budget can be found here.

AN OVERVIEW: BIG TICKET COMMITMENTS

  • Canadian Innovation and Investment Agency: $1 billion over five years towards the creation of a new agency designed to invest in innovation, research, and development. 
  • Canada Growth Fund: A $15 billion growth fund to encourage private sector investment to meet net-zero climate goals and strengthen supply chains.
  • Intellectual property: $96.6 million over five years to build a world-class intellectual property regime, by building on previous investments.
  • Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED): A review of SR&ED to eliminate paperwork needed for the program for startups. 
  • Accelerator to increase housing supply: Accelerator fund to encourage municipal governments to zone for more housing over the next five years. 
  • Dental-care and pharmacare: Plans to cover the cost of dental care for lower income Canadians and plans to create a national pharmacare program. 

INNOVATION INVESTMENTS

A new Canada Growth Fund to encourage private sector investment to meet net-zero climate goals and strengthen supply chains.

  • $15 billion in public capital over five years designed to incentivize private-sector investment in emissions reduction, economic diversification and supply-chain projects. The new program will  run at arm’s length from the government. It will make investments in businesses in firms for equity stakes, loan them money or issue financing guarantees. 

A new Canadian Innovation and Investment Agency to invest in innovation, research, and development.

  • The new agency, modelled after programs in Finland and Israel, will operate independently and will be funded with $1-billion in new spending over five years. Moreover, the government will consult further with Canadian and global experts in finalizing the design and mandate of the new agency. Furthers details will be announced in the 2022 fall economic and fiscal update.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

The government has committed more investment into Canada’s national IP initiatives, including:  

  • A new national lab-to-market platform to help graduate students and researchers take their work to market;
  • Investment for the CanExport program to help Canadian businesses secure their intellectual property in foreign markets;
  • A new survey to assess the government’s previous investments in science and research, and how knowledge created at post-secondary institutions generates commercial outcomes;
  • Expanding ExploreIP, Canada’s intellectual property marketplace, so that more public sector intellectual property is put to use helping Canadian businesses; and,
  • Expanding the Intellectual Property Legal Clinics Program, which will make it easier to access basic intellectual property services.

SR&ED REVIEW FOR STARTUPS

A review of the scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) tax incentive, assessing whether it’s effective in encouraging R&D that benefits Canada will be done. Additionally, the government is considering instituting a patent-box regime to ensure ideas generated domestically turn into IP that stays here.

  • Startups have long complained about the amount of paperwork involved with accessing SR&ED, and the assessment could translate to startups receiving higher payouts from SR&ED, or at least less paperwork to complete. 

SUPERCLUSTERS REBRAND

The federal government is extending Canada’s Superclusters and is rebranding it to be called Canada’s Global Innovation Clusters. The budget proposes an additional $750 million into the program over six years. 

  • The Superclusters was originally created to focus on projects leveraging plant proteins, advanced manufacturing, AI and oceans. With the rebrand, the government hopes to see the Global Innovation Clusters play a role in greater projects, such as climate change.

TAX RATE EXTENSIONS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

Taxable capital for small businesses is increasing from $15 million to $50 million. 

  • Currently, the government taxes small businesses at a reduced rate of 9% on the first $500,000 of taxable income. However, small businesses lose the reduced rate once they hit $15 million. The new budget plans to increase the taxable income limit to $50 million. 

SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IN HEALTH TECH 

$30 million was committed to expand the CAN Health Network, which is a national partnership comprised of leading Canadian health organizations that work to introduce new solutions into the health care system. 

  • The government hopes to expand the program nationally to Quebec, the territories, and Indigenous communities.
Are you a founder trying to navigate the startup ecosystem? Learn more about programming the DMZ offers here.

The biggest wins for Black entrepreneurs in the last year

Black founders who are killing it in the Canadian startup ecosystem


It’s no secret that wins in the startup ecosystem are tough. Whether it’s securing a grant, closing a round of funding or landing your first big sale, making it takes grit and determination. But, do you know what’s even harder? Doing it all as a Black entrepreneur. 

Black founders face systemic barriers in accessing lucrative entrepreneurship opportunities in Canada. Starting and growing a business is hard, and as a result of the added challenges and obstacles Black founders have to deal with, Canada’s startup ecosystem has a massive underrepresentation of Black-led ventures. 

In light of Black History Month, the DMZ wanted to share the biggest wins for Black entrepreneurs in the last year. While the wheels of change are beginning to spin, we recognize much more still needs to be done and are committed to empowering Black founders with the coaching, mentorship and resources needed to take their business to the next level. 

So, let’s dive into some of the biggest wins for Black entrepreneurs from the last year.

Tunde Omotoye won $20,000 at the DMZ’s inaugural Black Innovation Summit

Black Innovation Bootcamp Alumni

CEO and Co-Founder of HumanSquad, Tunde Omotoye, came in 1st place winning $20,000 at the DMZ’s inaugural Black Innovation Summit.

HumanSquad helps newcomers navigate immigration and their career paths by connecting them to licensed immigration consultants in Canada.

“Before joining the DMZ’s Black Innovation Bootcamp, we didn’t understand concepts like ‘user journey’ or ‘OKRs’. Now, we understand customer profiling and engagement, and key client-related key performance indicators to look out for that can impact our bottom line and boost our top line.” – Tunde Omotoye, CEO and Co-Founder of HumanSquad


Lola Adeyemi secured $180,000 on Dragons’ Den
Biggest wins for Black entrepreneurs from last year: Lola Adeyemi

AMEX Blueprint Alumni

Lola Adeyemi, Founder and CEO of It’s Souper, pitched her hearty and spicy Afro-fusion soup and sauce line on the iconic CBC show Dragons’ Den.

Recognizing the void for ready-to-eat Nigerian packaged foods, Lola was inspired to bring West African herbs and spices to the North-American market.

 

TruLocal acquired for $16.8 million


Biggest wins for Black entrepreneurs from last year: Marc LafleurTruLocal, a market-leading, locally sourced meat subscription service in Canada, was acquired by Canadian e-commerce Emerge Commerce for $16.8 million.

Founder and CEO Marc Lafleur introduced local farmers, producers and suppliers to the power of e-commerce, connecting them with thousands of loyal, health-conscious consumers across the country.

 

 

Tony Colley named a top social impact founder

Biggest wins for Black entrepreneurs from last year: Tony ColleyBlack Innovation Program Social Impact Stream Alumni

The Founder and CEO of Be One to Give, Tony Colley, was recognized as one of Future of Good’s top 21 social impact founders. The list recognizes founders working on a promising solution for a more equitable, sustainable, caring post-pandemic Canada.

Be One to Give is a food redistribution app for businesses that eliminates avoidable food waste in daily operations.

 

The Urban Guide secured a partnership with the City of Toronto

Black Innovation Program Social Impact Stream Alumni

Biggest wins for Black entrepreneurs from last year: Peter OdlePeter Odle, Founder of the Urban Guide, secured a partnership with the City of Toronto, for a special city-based game called ‘ShowLoveTO Urban Game’. The game encouraged players to use their mobile devices to explore Toronto on New Year’s eve and win prizes.

The Urban Guide is a digital solution that uses self-guided city tours to reconnect people to their cities.

 

Adewunmi Akingbola awarded the Diana Award

Black Innovation Bootcamp Alumni

The Founder of HealthDrive Nigeria, Adewunmi Akingbola, was awarded the Diana Award, which recognizes inspirational youth from around the world who have demonstrated their ability to inspire new generations to serve their communities.

HealthDrive Nigeria, an initiative in the South West of Nigeria, aims to raise awareness, test and vaccinate people against Hepatitis B.

 

 

SmartTerm expanded its services to Canada and is now serving Canadian clients 

Black Innovation Incubator Company

SmartTerm, an education management platform, officially expanded into Canada.

Their solution digitizes school processes leading to improved efficiencies for governments, school administrators, teachers and students.

 

“Being able to incorporate our business in Canada was one of our biggest achievements with the DMZ so far.” – Jayme Hoyte, Co-Founder of SmartTerm.

Reeddi selected as a finalist for Prince William’s Earthshot Prize

Black Innovation Bootcamp Alumni

Launched by Prince William and the Royal Foundation, the Earthshot Prize is the most prestigious global environment prize in history. Further, the prize aims to turn the current pessimism surrounding environmental issues into optimism, by highlighting the ability of human ingenuity to bring about change.

Founder of Reedi, Olugbenga Olubanjo, was a finalist for the award; his solution provides portable rechargeable battery units to consumers from a vending machine powered by solar panels.

 

Reyts,Welkom-U and Be One to Give secured their chance to pitch at the DMZ’s upcoming Black Innovation Summit

Black Innovation Program Social Impact Stream Alumni

oluwatosin-tosin-ajibola-e in grey blazerAyobami Macaula and Abimbola Adegbite, Co-Founders of Reyts, Oluwatosin Ajibola, Founder of Welkom-U, and Tony Colley, Founder and CEO of Be One to Give, from the DMZ’s Black Innovation Program Social Impact Stream came out on top at their cohort’s demo day.

abimbola in maroon coatWhile all of the startups are working with a social mission and purpose, the three companies are zeroing in on different societal issues. Reyts is a marketplace that allows individuals to swap currencies in a seamless and secure way. Welkom-U focuses on improving the experience of immigrants to Canada so they can become contributing members of society faster, and Be One to Give is a food redistribution app for businesses that eliminates avoidable food waste in daily operations.

The three companies will have the chance to pitch their startup for funding at the DMZ’s annual Black Innovation Summit.

“Trying to launch a payment service with [Black] skin is almost impossible and because of the help of the DMZ we are so close to our goal after one-and-a-half years of trying, trying and trying. It’s hard to [be told] no, and it’s hard [to be told no] because of who you are. We are now 1 email away from everything we have been working towards.” – Ayobami Macaula, Co-Founder and COO of Reyts

The celebration of Black founders in the ecosystem doesn’t end here. On February 24th the DMZ will be hosting its second annual Black Innovation Summit to showcase Black innovation in Canada. Plus, we’ll be giving away $50,000 in total funding to Black-led startups at the DMZ.

 

Want to tune in to see the next generation of Black founders pitch at the DMZ’s Black Innovation Summit? Register here

Learn more about the DMZ’s Black Innovation Programs here.

How Canadian newcomers can land a new job in tech

DMZ guest blog by: Janey Buzugbe, Head of the Black Innovation Programs and Partnerships


Introducing Janey Buzugbe, the DMZ’s new Head of the Black Innovation Programs and Partnerships


The tech industry across Canada has been booming, and despite challenges presented by the global pandemic, the sector continues to demonstrate immense potential and strong job growth.

As a country that encourages immigration and offers professionals and entrepreneurs various methods to migrate, Canada provides a great pathway for newcomers looking to start a new journey in the sector.

In Canada, tech employment increased by nearly 60,000 positions in 2019, a growth rate of 3.6 per cent over the previous year, and now totals an estimated 1.72 million workers. Being surrounded with great opportunities at innovative companies can help newcomers to Canada find their footing faster and adjust to their new surroundings. 

However, navigating the tech job market as a newcomer in Canada can be overwhelming and is not a straightforward path. As a newcomer myself from Nigeria, I can speak to this firsthand. I hope my career experiences and learnings will be useful to newcomers looking to break into the industry. Here are a few tips on how you can land a new job in tech.

Build your brand and activate it 

Your personal brand is tied to your professional brand, and learning how to activate it is essential to landing a job in tech.

Branding yourself can be just as important as the technical skills and expertise you bring to the table. Employers and recruiters can easily forget about what qualifications you have from a pool of similar candidates, but what they will remember is your energy (some people call these interpersonal skills). Being uplifting, positive and warm will stick in people’s minds. Think about what is unique about your energy, and let it shine.

Not sure what aspects of your personality stand out? Try taking online personality tests, like Myers-Briggs, to provide yourself with empirical evidence on what personality traits you bring to the table and ask people who know you what they notice!

Another great way to activate your personal brand is to write yourself a brag book and always update it! List out all of your accomplishments that speak to the type of employee and person you are. Have you won any special awards? Any notable achievements from your personal or professional life? Has anyone ever pointed out anything nice about you, or what you have done for them?

We can often forget about our wins over time, so starting a running list to remind yourself of the great things you’ve done will allow you to shine during interviews, coffee chats and networking events.

Remember that every interaction you have, whether it be at a formal networking event, dinner with friends or encounters with your neighbour, serves as a networking opportunity. We never know what an interaction can lead to, so it’s important to leave a positive impression. Try to leave any meaningful interaction you have with a call to action. Let any new connection you make know that you’re looking for a job in tech and to let you know if they are aware of any promising opportunities.

This can open more doors than you may think, as many jobs today are fulfilled through internal recommendations and connections! But don’t forget to lend a hand, as the best way to get is to give.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to showcase your side businesses and passion projects. Being involved with volunteer organizations, or working to create an online presence via social media is a part of you that should be front and center. Employers in Canada want to see that you have interests and hobbies outside of work. It speaks to your character, your ability to hustle and you come off as a well-rounded professional, so make sure to include your side activities on your resume and LinkedIn! 

Networking 

As mentioned, a lot of organizations today hire based on internal recommendations. Applying online via company websites can still be effective, but having a connection willing to vouch for you can make a world of a difference.

A really great way of connecting with others and catching wind of opportunities is community support groups and professional networks, such as the Black Professional in Tech Network and ACCES employment. Being able to lean on others in similar boats is a great way to share lessons learned and best practices.

LinkedIn groups are also an excellent way to connect with the community. For instance, there are groups catered for Nigerian IT professionals in Canada. Look for groups that would make sense for your circumstances as a newcomer and professional and use them to your advantage. 

Another great tip when it comes to networking is doing your homework before connecting with someone new. Conversations will be much more effective if you have common ground to speak to. Find a few similarities between the two of you before connecting. Maybe they volunteered at the same organization as you, also immigrated to Canada or share a similar interest. Whatever the connection is, it will allow you to have an unforced conversation that flows naturally. Plus, who doesn’t like to be complimented?! 

Handling Rejection 

Rejection is a part of life and is something that all professionals need to get comfortable with. Do not get discouraged if you are told no. Remember that each no you receive from a potential employer is one response closer to a yes. “No” means you get the chance to look forward to the next opportunity.

Try asking yourself, how many passes does it take before you get a yes? If you gamify it this way, it allows you to not take things personally. There are many different reasons why you could be rejected, some of which may be completely out of your control. Instead of being discouraged, use your learnings for the next opportunity that comes your way.

Canadian nuances 

It’s important to recognize that every country has its own business culture and customs. Brushing up on the norms and nuances in Canadian business culture will ensure you don’t have any blindspots. 

For instance, in Nigeria, having respect for authority figures is of the utmost importance. Oftentimes individuals will not ask questions or question an authority figure because they have fear of retribution. Whereas in Canada, asking questions and rethinking the way things are done is highly praised. Furthermore, in Nigeria, people often tend to keep their head down and focus on simply getting the work done. In Canada, connecting with colleagues, joining special committees or volunteering for a special opportunity is very well regarded. 

The job market in Canada is certainly competitive, but with the right mindset and approach you will be able to land your dream job in the industry. Remember to not give up, and keep trying – something will come up! 

Want to learn more about Janey and her advice to newcomers? Check out her YouTube channel for more lessons, tips and resources to navigate working and living as a professional in Canada. 

For more information on how the DMZ is empowering the next wave of Black entrepreneurs through our Black Innovation Programs, check out our website. 

The best techy holidays gifts for entrepreneurs

Finding the right gifts for loved ones can be tough. If you’re stuck on a budget, buying the perfect present — that’s both useful and functional — can seem almost impossible. Thankfully, we’re here to help.

Whether you’re shopping for a banking billionaire or a teenage mogul in the making, these gifts are bound to please. Take a look at our list of top suggestions for $50 or less below.

Camkix universal 3-in-1 camera lens kit
Gift guide lens_kit

This affordable kit is the perfect present for entrepreneurs who rely on their camera for professional-looking pictures for both work and play. It’s high-tech band and lenses are compatible with smartphones and tablets and easily sync to Bluetooth so users can share photos wherever they are.

Price: $12.49/Amazon

Satechi desk charging hub

gift-guide_satechi
If you’re in need of a fashion-friendly USB port look no further. The Satechi charging hub can accommodate up to seven devices at one time and includes velcro straps to prevent cable clutter. It’s sturdy enough for even the clumsiest entrepreneur and comes with surge protection, anti-scratch silicone pads and a five-year warranty to guarantee you’ll only be one outlet away from a full charge.

Price: $29.99/Amazon

Flic

gift-guide_flic
This Bluetooth-enabled button may look unimpressive at first glance but can automate almost any function or device in the office and home. Once placed on a wall or hard surface it can be programmed to regulate everything from control temperatures to dim lights and even send texts using the device’s mobile app. Bonus: It’s weather-resistant exterior and comes with a two-year battery life. 

Price: $34/Amazon

Amazon Fire 7 tablet

gift-guide_fire-tablet
Looking for a cheap tablet that does it all? Enter: Amazon’s Fire 7 tablet. The device is thin and lightweight making it more than suitable for busy entrepreneurs on the go. It also boasts a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, eight hours of battery life and access to Alexa, the company’s digital assistant.

Price: $49.99/ Amazon

Seagate 1TB external hard drive 

gift-guide_seagate
It’s never been easier or cheaper to find dependable external storage for your computer. If you’re willing to spend a bit more this season, the Seagate 1TB external hard drive is a gift any entrepreneur will appreciate and works with both PCs and Macs. It features a solid-state drive (or SSD), which uses flash memory to store data faster, and provides 1 terabyte of space for all-important documents, movies and other media.

Price: *$49.99 /Amazon

*limited-time holiday offer

Is Canada the next global leader in tech? Yes.

Some of today’s biggest game-changing startups call Canada home these days. This includes local high-growth companies  like Shopify, WattPad and Element A.I., which secured an eye-watering $135 million investment earlier this year.Even America’s top tech companies have pivoted north in recent years; lured by Canada’s thriving tech scene.Google, Uber and Microsoft have launched new satellite offices this year, while Amazon — the godfather of e-commerce — is considering Toronto for its new North American headquarters.

Canada on the world stage

 
These new developments may come as a surprise to some, but it really shouldn’t. Canada has one of the most liberal immigration policies in the world and some of the top tech incubators — which churn our new talent and companies every day — are located in the city. However, Toronto’s greatest strength lies in its talent base. Tech innovators attracted by our world-class institutions that include Google’s artificial intelligence lab and million-dollar Vector Institute bring with them investors and venture capitalists that help transform the city.

Of course, Canada’s quickly maturing tech landscape can be confusing. Enter: The DMZ. The startup incubator’s new podcast entitled BusinessCast powered by the DMZ tackles the latest in tech news and innovation.

The first episode in the series investigates Canada’s winning tech streak. Chartered accountant and host Robert Gold chats with DMZ Executive Director Abdullah Snobar about the state of tech entrepreneurship and, more importantly, why the world should care about Canadian startups.Make sure to check out our BusinessCast podcasts here. 

Fujitsu Canada: Corporate innovation through collaboration

For years, companies looking to boost their bottom line would all too often rely on buying out their competition. It became trendy for big-name firms to acquire emerging startups in an effort to grow their market share.

Today, all of that is changing. The days of blockbuster acquisitions are on the decline. In a world where established companies face competition not only from Fortune 500 rivals, but from early-stage startups, purchasing the newest innovation at every turn isn’t enough.

So, what should large corporations do to stay ahead? Focusing on collaboration is key. It allows both startups and established businesses to leverage their best assets to thrive in today’s cutthroat business landscape. Startups bring with them new technologies and ideas that more-resource heavy corporations can then use to accelerate innovation. A practice that Fujitsu Canada has perfected over the years.

Collaborate to innovate

 
The company is certainly no stranger when it comes to innovation. Fujitsu is one of the oldest IT companies in the world, having undergone numerous breakthrough transformations over the years.

These days, Fujitsu invests about $3 billion annually in research and development, but behind the scenes the company is also solidifying partnerships with top startups around the globe.

“We understand that no one company, including Fujitsu, exclusively owns innovation across this broad range of industries,” explains Craig Smith, vice president of Fujitsu Canada. “It makes great business sense for us to collaborate with startups where we can jointly explore new markets and grow in existing ones.”

These types of partnerships can be incredibly beneficial. A 2016 study by Boston-based nonprofit MassChallenge and software company Imaginatik found corporate-startup partnerships were important tools for finding new talent, among many other things. Working with “scrappy young firms” the report said was “mission critical” to a business’ success.

Tech opportunities in Canada

 
The Canadian startup landscape is ripe and ready for the type of big partnerships that are often found south of the border. Fujitsu Canada knows this and is taking an active approach when it comes to finding the best Canadian startups.

Fujitsu’s current list of collaborations extends from coast to coast and around the world, including the company’s worldwide network of innovation labs and its Canadian Student Innovation System program, where more than 600,000 students, educators, and administrators work together to improve learning outcomes. The company’s relationship with the DMZ’s Innovation Immersion program also allows it to meet dozens of high-potential tech companies eager to showcase how their market-ready technology can help Fujitsu’s products.

“We view engaging with the startup community in Canada as an exciting and complementary innovation channel,” Smith explains about the company’s startup relationships. “The Canadian tech startup community is burgeoning, with venture capital more than tripling in the last six years.”

The future of tech

 
At the end of the day, new technology is making it easier and cheaper to do things that were once thought impossible. Like the Wright brothers — who gave birth to modern-day flight — or Drs. Watson and Crick — who uncovered the structure of DNA — amazing things happen through collaboration. Partnerships between big companies and small startups will become increasingly important in the near future and change life as we know it today. For Smith, how companies accelerate innovation in their business and the entrepreneurs they co-create with will help influence the Canadian tech scene.

“The ability to innovate is crucial. Technology is transforming innovation – it isn’t necessarily making it better but it is making it quicker, cheaper and easier. In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in digital co-creation, as businesses continue to transform to stay competitive in this quickly changing industry,” Smith adds. “… Digital transformation is becoming increasingly a core element to societal and economic stability and in order to thrive, businesses will need to accelerate the pace at which they bring technology and new ideas together.”

How to lure and hire top talent before your competitors do

Canada’s tech scene is on the rise.

Toronto, its largest city, is home to a booming artificial intelligence ecosystem. It also boasts an enviable research center that includes the country’s first technology supercluster and an entrepreneurial drive that’s second only to the U.S.

It also doesn’t hurt that Canada’s Global Strategy program helps fast track immigration for talented workers. The new law makes it one of the most liberal programs in the world. In as little as two weeks workers can get visas and working permits — making the talent search that much easier.

But, despite all this good news Canadian startups still have a difficult time finding tech leaders to help them grow. While the country has the right people on hand onboarding them isn’t always easy. That’s why recruitment strategies are playing a much bigger role than they ever have before.

Engaging with talent before they apply

For Dave Savory — co-founder of a startup called Riipen that connects young jobseekers with companies — finding the best talent quicker and more efficiently means shaking up how HR engages with talent. The old-school recruitment method that requires applicants to fill out page-by-page forms online just won’t do anymore. Engaging with emerging talent sooner through games, brain teasers or social media yields better results.

“Having a new entry point based on merit and skills instead of how many buzzwords you can fit in your cover letter is what you should look for. People are now trained on how to get passed automatic resume filters that companies set up,” he explains. “It ends up making more work for people at a company because they spend time interviewing people who may not be a great fit or miss out on really great people.”

Savory knows better than most about what companies look for in employees. Riipen, founded in 2013, works with 140 post-secondary schools and 7000 companies in North America to help students find work. His clients vary and include tech giants, like Microsoft, and food businesses, such as restaurant chain Joey Restaurants.

“It’s all about how good companies authentically engage with emerging talent,” he adds. “Companies know [young people] are an important demographic as older workers retire, so they need to find new ways to get their attention before their competitors do.”

Check out the weirdest interview questions Fortune 500 companies asked prospective employees last year, courtesy of GlassDoor.

Businesses suffer without HR innovation

Robert Sher — who works in San Francisco, a city with an unemployment rate of 3.5 per cent — put it best. “Flawed hiring processes” play a role in hiring and retaining the best people, which impacts a business’s bottom line.

“Companies that can’t find creative ways to find the employees they need can’t grow,” he explained. “Business leaders who can win the talent war (and it is a war) will be able to say yes to new business opportunities while their talent-strapped competition will have to walk away.”

Bryan Rusche, Soapbox’s marketing director, believes the hiring landscape has changed in recent years. While his company doesn’t directly work on recruitment processes, their platform allows employees to share ideas and feedback that can impact how companies attract new talent.

“The best strategy for attracting talent is having a reputation for being an amazing place to work,” he says. “The slickest recruitment strategy in the world isn’t going to work for you if your employees don’t back up your claims that you have something special,” he explains.

As times change, businesses will be forced to change their hiring policies as well.  They’ll increasingly need to rely on better ways (and platforms) to connect with talent if they want to succeed. “This will be the new normal in the next three to five years” says Savory. “Engaging talent through skill-based assessment or challenges will be the new starting point of the recruiting process.”

How Canada became a hotspot for artificial intelligence research

Canada’s dominance in the artificial intelligence space is drawing attention from techpreneurs around the world. The country, probably better known in recent years for its pop music exports and human rights record, has become a hotbed for the computer algorithm-powered technology over the last five years.

Toronto’s startups making waves

 
Last summer, Montreal’s Element AI raised an eye-watering $102 million from investors and earlier this year Toronto-based Integrate.ai secured a $5 million seed round. That’s on top of other notable moves being made by some of today’s more entrenched companies, like Royal Bank that will employ AI for its customer operations and DeepMind, a Google-acquired intelligence company, opened an office in Alberta last summer.

Not to be outdone, General Motors said it was going to launch one of its self-driving research hubs in Markham, Ontario. Thomson Reuters last year announced it would open a Toronto center for “cognitive computing” that would create 400 “high-quality” jobs.

How did this happen?

 
So, how did we get here and why now?  It doesn’t hurt that Canada has become famous for its liberal immigration policy. Just recently it opened its doors to tech talent willing to relocate to Canada.

The fast-track visa program offers up permanent residency and is designed to woo talented innovators from around the world. The Canadian government has also committed about $125 million to A.I.

Officials at all three levels are also lending a helping hand. In late 2016, the federal, provincial and municipal governments joined forces to launch the new Toronto-based Vector Institute.

The non-profit is focused on A.I. research and helping startups get funding for ongoing work. It also has backing from tech giants like Google and Air Canada — making it a force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile Montreal is home to its own deep learning expertise thanks to Yoshua Bengio (one of the co-fathers of deep learning) and the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms.

Future outlook

 
But Canada faces a tough (and unpredictable) road as it battles for AI superiority. Compared to the U.S., Canadian startups receive a fraction of the investment dollars that their counterparts in the U.S. do.

For example, last year $69.1 billion was invested in America found the National Venture Capital Association, while Canadian companies received $3.2 billion. But, things are now on the rise. Last year represented the seventh straight year of growth for VC investment in Canada and the largest since 2001.

While only time will tell how far Canada’s A.I. scene will fare in the future. Although, its current booming outlook signifies that things for the country (and Toronto especially) look bright.

“Toronto’s tech industry is booming right now, so it’s no surprise that it’s also emerged as a hub for AI job opportunities.”

Daniel Culbertson, an economist at job-seeking website Indeed, shared with BetaKit.

24 hours with real estate startup Casalova

The real estate startup is located in downtown, Toronto — one of Canada’s most competitive real estate markets — which means employees have to always be on their toes since local listings can change in the blink of an eye.

Unlike some of its competitors, Casalova is a one-stop shop that brings together prospective renters, landlords and agents all in one place. Users who sign up get access to new homes and a certified agent, while landlords have their properties listed and also get a $100,000 insurance package so they can rest easy knowing that if a tenant damages their homes they won’t go into debt to fix it.

Here’s an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of Casalova’s team and their founder.

The agent: Jennifer Meade (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

jennifer_meade

Jennifer Meade, one of the company’s newest agents, knows all too well how volatile Toronto’s real estate market is these days. She’s seen up-close-and-personal the city’s property market jump more than 20 per cent in the last year, and more importantly, the impact it’s had on prospective renters and buyers.

“Everything moves so fast now,” she explains. “If you want something in this market you have to be ready to move quickly because property can go just like that,” she says while snapping her fingers for added effect.

For Meade, most days involve checking her email to see which new clients she’s been matched with through Casalova or connecting with new renters through her own personal network. Today her client, a nurse moving from Barrie to Toronto, is looking for a condo to call home in the downtown core, which Meade confesses “can be tricky” since the prospective renter’s 14-hour job makes it difficult to view properties during normal hours.

Today her day starts at 7 a.m. when she scours local listings for new condos. When she finds one that matches her client’s needs (in this case parking and access to shopping and entertainment) she calls the property manager to book an appointment and waits for her client to make the long drive downtown.

Two hours later she shows the nurse around a lovely condo near the city’s waterfront while rattling of its impressive amenities — inclusive gym, pool and hot tub, to name a few. It’s a one bedroom, 778 square feet, home that overlooks Lake Ontario. While Meade thinks she may have found her client the perfect home although she isn’t so sure and wants to look at a few other places before making a final decision.

Keen to see her client view as many places as possible she hails a taxi that will shuttle both of them to their next destination. She also informs the condo owner over the phone that her client is interested in the property but needs a little more time to make a decision. “It’s important to keep every door open,” she says with a smile while juggling two phones.

Two hours and three condo viewings later (a cancelled showing due to a lost lockbox means the day ends early) just reinforces how much her client loved the first apartment she viewed earlier in the day. Meade later makes an official offer that day with help from Casalova’s customer service team and then make plans to meet tomorrow to follow-up on signing details.

“It always feels good when you find the perfect home for someone,” Meade explains.

The front-line staff: (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.)

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Naveed Marzook, Casalova’s vice-president of customer success, loves his job. It’s easy to see that he and his team shoulder most of the face-to-face customer and agent work the company deals with on a daily basis. Any questions about properties, or payment requests go through his team.

The customer service team also helps customers navigate the website if necessary and add new homes to the company’s growing list of real estate options almost hourly.

For all intents and purposes, Marzook and his team are like the swiss army knife of the company, although he refers to his team as the startup’s “helpers”. They go “above and beyond” what they’re expected to do all the time, he explains. “Everyone pitches in and we appreciate it.”

Marzook and his team believe that the company’s success boils down to the fact the team actually like working together. In an attempt to prove his point, he holds up a golden owl, fondly named Hooter, which is given to the employee who happens to “pitch in the most.”

Today it might be him, and the next day it could be Jess Shulist — one of his colleagues whose computer is decorated with Rihanna stickers and works with agents to get client documents ready.

“It’s a fun place to work,” Shulist says while looking fondly at Hooter. “I think it’s cool how we never forget to recognize how hard each other is working.”

The co-founder: Ray Jaff (3 p.m. to 8 p.m.)

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Ray Jaff wakes up at 6 a.m. everyday to workout. He works through company problems while running on the treadmill and brainstorms new solutions while lifting weights. “It’s what gets me through the day,” he explains.

The entrepreneur is dressed in a fitted oxford shirt and pleated pants, but says he would be just as comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt.

This afternoon he’s focused mostly on checking in with team members, going over the website’s latest updates and the company’s plans to move to a new office on the westside.

At a meeting with the team’s engineers, Jaff and the developers hunker down at their desk to come up with solutions and a tentative timeline for new product updates. Forty-five minutes later they’re done and the founder is already on his way to his next meeting. His phone blinks throughout the afternoon proving just how in-demand he is these days, especially now that the company has launched its services in Vancouver.

It’s a real coup for the startup, he says. “We’ve been working towards this for a while.” When asked how he manages to avoid burnout, Jaff merely laughs and shrugs. “It’s a team effort, we’re all working on this together and we aim to only hire A-players who are dedicated to the Casalova mission. It’s makes everyone’s life a lot easier.”

Later on the company’s real estate agents, front-line staff and Jaff convene to celebrate their quarterly wins at a complimentary lunch while munching on sushi, chips, cupcakes and champagne. Despite its seemingly small team, the event is an important way to show employees how much their hard work is appreciated.

“Casalova is like a family. We value everyone and just because the agents aren’t in the office with us doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be here with us to celebrate.”

The award categories include ‘Rookie of the month’, ‘hardest hustler,’ and ‘MVP of the month.’ After the awards are given out, Jaff motions for people to move to the front of the room for photos with the honourees.

Once the meeting is over, it’s back to meetups with staff, responding to more emails and later one-on-ones about Vancouver. It’s almost 8 p.m. by the time his day is finished.

As he readies his things to leave for the night the entrepreneur’s eyes are still glued to his smartphone.