In a presentation to the Canadian Club of Toronto last week, Bill Currie,Deloitte Canada’s vice-chair and Americas managing director; and John Ruffolo, CEO of OMERS Ventures, highlighted the key obstacles to Canada’s improved productivity, including: a culture of complacency, a lack of Canadian investment capital, a disconnect between entrepreneurs and global markets, and more. They subsequently spoke with the Financial Post’s Dan Ovsey about some of the opportunities for Canada to improve its productivity in 2013. Following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Q In its 2012 budget, the federal government created a $400-million venture capital fund. What do you believe is the most productive way to use this money and do you believe the government should be in the business of managing a VC fund?
BC The opportunity with the $400-million is to lever it up and create joint partnerships where private money will come in on top of it and you protect some of that private money. While that may seem challenging, it’s actually good policy because it drives extra benefit because we create those gazelles (growth businesses) we’ve talked about. Unless you do that, money will stay on the sidelines. Money will not come into this space unless they can get a return. But we haven’t seen the government’s response. You kind of worry that that’s taking so long.
JR The fundamental question is the sustainability of limited partner investors over the long haul. This is really pension funds, corporates, financial institutions, coming back into the ecosystem and the real question is: can this stimulus be used to help resurrect it; to create a long-term track record of success. If it’s unable to do that, it really is just a one-time shot in the arm, and then you kind of go right back down again. That’s the anxiety that I have. But, I think the federal government’s response is extremely welcome and they’re taking it very seriously.