‘Tech’ is the Word

Technology has invaded everything.  Everywhere I look and everyone I talk to, ‘tech’ is the word.  We must be conscious of the rapid pace of innovation in all areas of business and industry – we must ask ourselves how we are doing at bringing innovative and technological solutions to the table and enhancing our ability to do so. That is the thought behind the AgInnovation Investment Forum EDR is co-hosting with our friends from the Saskatchewan Capital Network next month. We are inviting ag companies, tech companies, and investors to come together to find their areas of mutual interest. No matter how broadly your company or product might engage with that group, I encourage you to think hard about attending, and of course to Think BIG!


MLT Aikins Shows “Leadership’’ by Participating in Investment Partnership Program

By Bruce Johnstone

MLT Aikins – formed last year from the merger of MacPherson Leslie & Tyerman and Winnipeg-based Aikins, MacAulay & Thorvaldson – bills itself as “Western Canada’s law firm.”

While the new firm has offices in Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, Regina has the distinction of being the birthplace of one of MLT Aikin’s two founding firms.

Indeed, MLT was Saskatchewan’s largest full-service law firm, and one of the oldest, with roots in Regina dating back to 1920. MLT was also seen as leaders in terms of philanthropy, charitable giving and corporate citizenship.

While the name has changed, the firm’s prominent role in Regina’s legal and business communities hasn’t.

“We see ourselves as leaders in the profession,’’ said Don Wilson, managing partner of MLT Aikins since Jan. 1, 2017

“We hope that, if we step up, that might cause other professional services firms… to say that if MLT Aikins can do it, we can do it,’’ Wilson said in a recent interview for Think Big Regina!

Specifically, MLT Aikins is “stepping up’’ to contribute $30,000 over three years to Economic Development Regina’s Investment Partnership program. The program seeks to raise $1 million-plus from private sector firms, not-for-profit organizations and the City of Regina to promote EDR’s Regina Advantage campaign and other initiatives to grow Regina’s economy.

Wilson, who left his successful business law practice to become managing partner of MLT from 2002 to 2016, said the firm has always had a strong philanthropic presence in the community and the IP program fits with that. 

“We certainly don’t expect any kind of return to the firm for this (IP investment). We just hope that (having) a strong business community in the city and surrounding parts will be good for the firm and many other firms.’’

“It’s also a bit of a payback (to the community),’’ Wilson added. “It’s trying to be a good corporate citizen.’’

Of course, MLT Aikins has to spread its charitable giving and philanthropic work around all the communities where it does business.

But Wilson, who got his law degree at the University of Saskatchewan in 1977, said MLT Aikins has a relatively large presence in Regina compared with some of the other cities where it has offices.

“We’re in six cities in four provinces. But we’re obviously not the same in Vancouver as we are in Winnipeg, or Regina, or Saskatoon, where we’re a lot more dominant players.”

Wilson said MLT Aikins also has a responsibility to ensure that the community where it does business has healthy economic growth and good career opportunities.

“We don’t want (our kids) to have just a job here. We want them to have opportunities to have professions, or invest in businesses, or have leadership (positions).’’

“(The IP program) is an investment in the community. If we can do intelligent things to bring business investment to this city, it makes sense.’’

And Wilson believes EDR is doing “intelligent things,’’ like the Regina Advantage campaign, that will help bring economic growth and business investment to the city.

“We’re assuming that (EDR) having access to this incremental resource will actually help them to do this work. That’s what we are hopeful that this (IP contribution) will do.” 

Learn more at: https://www.mltaikins.com/contact/regina/


 New Opportunities in Agriculture Technology

The Saskatchewan Capital Network (SCN) and EDR have partnered with local innovation organizations to host the AgInnovation Investment Forum in Regina on March 7. The forum is a half-day event to discuss investing in the agri-value and agri-tech sectors and connect investors with entrepreneurs.

The event will be an ideal opportunity to for companies and developers to learn how to engage and profit from the agri-technology sector, identify potential partners, and learn how best to participate in the Protein Industries Canada Supercluster.

The forum will include:

  • Presentations from experienced agriculture and investment executives
  • An overview of how to engage with and partner with Protein Industries Canada
  • Insight into the Greater Regina Area Plant-Protein Supply Chain and Assets
  • Investment pitches from early stage companies to angle investors

By attending you can also:

  • Connect with potential investment opportunities with Saskatchewan companies
  • Expand your network
  • Learn more about angel investment and whether it might a fit for you
  • Support our local success stories

Event details:

Thursday March 7, 2019
2:00 - 7:00 p.m. (Registration opens at 1:00 p.m.)
AGT Lounge at Mosaic Stadium

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/aginnovation-investment-forum-tickets-55216577269


Economic Development 101: Growing from within

This is the second in a series of articles written by respected business journalist Bruce Johnstone about why we do economic development.

Many people assume that economic development means bringing businesses and jobs from other towns, cities and provinces to relocate in our town, city or province.

And, for many years, that assumption drove economic development agencies to expend much of their energy and budgets on persuading, enticing and even paying companies to move to their jurisdiction.

Accordingly, tax breaks and incentives, grants based on the number of jobs created and similar blandishments were used to uproot companies in one province in order to be transplanted into another. Existing businesses, on the other hand, tended to be ignored and taken for granted by economic development agencies.

But studies have shown that the overwhelming proportion of new jobs is generated by existing businesses, rather than out-of-province relocations. According to the Washington, D.C., think-tank, The Brookings Institution, only three per cent of job creation comes from out-of-state business relocations. Guess where the other 97 per cent of new jobs came from?

You guessed it: existing businesses. And many of those existing businesses are locally owned and operated, versus chain and multinational ownership. Locally owned businesses are generally more rooted in the community, less likely to relocate to another jurisdiction and more inclined to pay higher wages and benefits than their non-locally owned counterparts. Read more.


Setting a National Standard

Sometimes an unsuspecting city can set a standard for a national event, catching people off guard. Such is the case for the success of the CP Women’s Open last year in Regina. The local organizing committee of the event, quoted Golf Canada, saying: “Regina exceeded expectations and this is exactly the type of community we want to host.” Thanks again to everyone who worked so hard to bring the CP Women’s Open here, and for making it such a fantastic event.

Watch Ryan Paul, Tournament Director of the CP Women’s Open to hear more about the experience of the players and event staff. Click here. 


Connecting Government and Startup Technology Companies 

The Made in Saskatchewan Technology Program (MIST) connects the Provincial Government to Saskatchewan technology-based companies whose products may improve Government service delivery. Companies who are successful in the program are awarded a contract of up to $10,000 to have their technology piloted by Government.

Who is this for?

This program is open to technology companies that meet the following criteria:

  • Saskatchewan based;
  • Annual revenue under $500,000;
  • 30 employees or less;
  • Technology is ready to be implemented; and 
  • Company has the capacity to work with Government.

Submit applications to mist@innovationsask.ca.  Applications can be submitted at any time.

Application form