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The stapler problem in #CDNtech procurement

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Plus: Meet BetaKit’s new CEO.

Two weeks before #Budget2024, lobbyists are ratcheting up their proposals to the federal government. The BetaKit Newsletter previously touched on the sticky issue of pension mandates and the BetaKit Podcast did the same for proposed revisions to Canada’s $4-billion SR&ED tax credit. 

This week, Josh Scott covered a new report by the Council of Canadian Innovators calling on governments at all levels to rethink their procurement approach to bolster economic prosperity.

CCI splits procurement into two categories: staplers and ideas. Governments are already good at buying so-called staplers: solutions to a defined problem with well-understood dimensions. But when it comes to finding solutions for more abstract issues, current procurement processes are ill-equipped to guide a project from inception through development to deployment. 

Pursuit of a stapler solution can lead to wasteful spending. In a panel discussion coinciding with the report launch, Careteam Technologies CEO Dr. Alexandra Greenhill shared an example in which government officials consulted her to build a new section of a hospital. Digging further into the issue, she found that 30 percent of patients visited from out of town, meaning existing virtual care programs would have helped address capacity issues. Yet, the procurement department responsible said it was instructed to construct a new site with a “ribbon-cutting ceremony.”

“The problem with the way procurement works is… each side thinks that the other side is going to screw them,” said David Helliwell, co-founder of Thrive Health, adding that governments and entrepreneurs need to establish better trust and working relationships.

With trust low on either side, who must take the first step in changing Canada’s risk-averse procurement culture?  My inbox is open

Thanks for reading on and ‘til next week, 
Bianca Bharti
Newsletter Editor


POWERED BY: MASTERCARD

Learn more about emerging tech’s impact on financial innovation. 

From AI to biometrics, emerging technologies are set to transform all industries – especially in finance and payments. With this innovation, we can unlock growth, boost productivity, and improve quality of life, but how do we navigate, adopt, and tap into its potential?   

We sat down with Mastercard Canada’s SVP of Product and Solutions, Darrell MacMullin for a BetaKit Live fireside conversation to discuss how emerging tech, open banking, and evolving cybersecurity challenges are set to impact the future of financial innovation.  

Read the recap of the BetaKit Live here. 


Siri Agrell joins BetaKit as CEO

BetaKit is thrilled to announce that Siri Agrell has joined BetaKit as our new CEO.

There are very few folks in Canada who have a deep understanding of both the technology and media landscape, and Siri is one of them. She comes to BetaKit with experience as both a journalist at some of Canada’s top publications and as a leader across various vantage points within Canada’s tech ecosystem.

(Read more)


Federal government commits $2.4 billion to AI compute, startups, and safety through Budget 2024

Today, Canada’s Liberal government unveiled a $2.4-billion CAD package of measures designed to boost the country’s artificial intelligence sector.

In its announcement, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made at Scale AI’s offices in Montréal, the Government of Canada noted that while the nation has a “world-leading AI ecosystem,” other countries have been racing to catch up and made big investments in AI. “To maintain Canada’s competitive edge, and secure good paying jobs and job security for generations of young Canadians, we must raise the bar.”

Through its upcoming 2024 budget, the federal government plans to pump $2 billion into increasing the computing power available to the nation’s AI researchers, startups, and scaleups.

(Read more)


Meet the Y Combinator Winter 2024 cohort startups with Canadian roots

Y Combinator’s Winter 2024 demo day is currently underway, and Canada has made up a notable presence in this season’s cohort.

As part of the Silicon Valley-based accelerator’s 38th demo day, over 200 companies from around the world are pitching their ideas to a throng of investors and media.

For this cohort, at least eight of those participants are either Canadian or have a Canadian founder. That total is higher than the country’s representation in Y Combinator’s previous two cohorts.

(Read more)


Cohere’s Aidan Gomez talks scaling AI for enterprise, Vinod Khosla explores risk-taking at CIX Summit 2024

The summit’s opening night featured several heavy hitters, starting with OMERS Ventures’ Laura Lenz and MaRS CEO Alison Nankivell, both CIX co-chairs, who discussed the state of the Canadian venture. Following their opening remarks, the CIX Innovator of The Year award was given to Aidan Gomez, CEO of Toronto-based Cohere.

Gomez joined Inovia Capital’s Kory Jeffrey and KPMG Canada’s Seamus Blackmore to discuss the growth of Cohere and the future of artificial intelligence. During the fireside chat, Gomez laid out the specific attributes that make Cohere different.

(Read more)


Startup Open House returns to its roots after acquisition by MTL NewTech

Nonprofit MTL NewTech has acquired the rights to Startup Open House from Elevate and will bring the event back to Montréal this spring.

This year’s one-day showcase is set for May 23. Participating startups—such as Clinia, AI Redefined, and Stay22—will invite the public into their office spaces and innovation hubs for a rare look at how startups operate in 2024.

“An initiative like Startup Open House really represents us to the core of everything we try to do,” said Simran Kanda, executive director at MTL NewTech. “Part of it is just being involved, present, and supporting the ecosystem and the community, but also to help inspire new generations of entrepreneurs.”

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BetaKit Live: How Coinbase is growing crypto adoption in Canada

Coinbase announced it has obtained restricted dealer status from the Canadian Securities Administrators, making it the first international and largest cryptocurrency exchange to be registered in Canada.

In partnership with Coinbase, BetaKit is happy to present a live-streamed fireside discussion tackling the company’s focus on growing the opportunity for digital assets in Canada, the future of money, and Canada’s innovation opportunity.

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Hard Knocks: Marcus Daniels on creating impact over activity in #CDNtech

Marcus Daniels believes Canadian tech is facing an “Old Yeller” moment.

Well, not entirely. To Daniels, Canada does a fantastic job cheering for its triumphs, even those he considers to be “superficial wins.” However, he believes the real test comes when things aren’t going well, and it’s time to pull the plug.

“Our companies in Canada, I think, are going to be under immense pressure over the next 10 years,” Daniels said in a recent interview with BetaKit. “If we don’t galvanize the different elements of our ecosystem, and sometimes have the harder, not just conversations, but decisions, we are going to be left behind dramatically.”

(Read more)


Funding, Acquisitions, Layoffs


CGY – Carbonova – $6M
TOR – Brim Financial – $85M
TOR – Willful – $1M CAD
TOR – BeniPlus – $1.1M CAD
TOR– Eirene – $4.1 CAD
TOR – Helika launches $50M gaming accelerator
MTL – Nuvei taken private at $6.3B USD valuation
QBC – Quebec and Ottawa commit $16M to build AI supercluster
STJ – TrojAI – $7.75M CAD


The BetaKit Podcast


Is Québec Canada’s quantum province?

“The quantum computer itself, the one that we would classify as sexy … has such a huge disruptive potential that we cannot really comprehend how much of an effect it’s going to have.”

Fresh off a $20 million fund close, Quantacet managing partner Martin Laforest joins to discuss quantum tech’s “degrees of sexiness,” its path to commercialization, Québec’s commitment to quantum innovation, and why it’s centred in the city of Sherbrooke.

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