Canadian tech execs strengthening ties here
April 11, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
from Canada's Atlantic Provinces hit Chicago this week. It's part
of a broader trade mission to boost commercial ties with Canada's
Abridean Corp. is a successful Atlantic Canada-to-Chicago tech
collaboration. Abridean develops specialized software used by
large companies to manage employee access to computer networks.
The computer identity-management
software firm was incubated in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Headquarters
migrated to Chicago for better reach to global markets.
Sean Sears, Abridean's
44-year-old CEO is a delegate to this week's trade mission and
a proponent of the Atlantic Canada-Chicago connection. Sears sees
opportunity for more low-cost software development done near-shore
in Halifax, rather than in more-distant Bangalore, India, or more
expensive Silicon Valley.
"Chicago is a
great choice for Abridean," says Sears, who compared Boston
and the Windy City. "Chicago is a better market for reaching
the U.S. and global markets. It's less expensive. There's a terrific
talent base here."
According to Sears,
Halifax boasts five universities and a host of IT and biotech
startups. He'd like to see more startup companies incubate in
Canada and establish offices here.
Helping build bridges
to those startups is David Weinstein, president of the Chicagoland
Entrepreneurial Center, who chairs a panel on tech transfer this
week for the 45 Atlantic Canada trade delegates.
Other members of the
panel include David Gulley, University of Illinois at Chicago
assistant vice chancellor for research; Carl Gulbrandsen, managing
director of WARF, the University of Wisconsin patent-management
arm; Tom Thornton, president Illinois Technology Development Alliance,
and Neil Kane, co-founder of venture advisory firm Illinois Partners.
point man on economic development, Jack Lavin, head of the state
Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, outlined a five-point
economic development program for 200 people at the City Club of
Chicago last week.
In addition to traditional
investments in workforce development and transportation, the program
pursues technology industries of the future -- biotech and nanotech
-- as well as industries related to national security and energy
independence. A continued commitment to support entrepreneurship
is a cornerstone of the program.
the University of Chicago to "survey key leaders in the business
community and gauge attitudes on the economy in Illinois."
Lavin pressed hard
for passage of the governor's proposed capital budget saying,
"The state is at a tipping point where we can either promote
aggressive, progressive, forward-thinking strategies to succeed,
or we can rest on our laurels and watch our competitors pass us
Among the priorities
is $57 million in state funding to match $2 billion in federal
funding for Argonne National Labs. Also high on the list is support
for Northwestern University's Institute for Nanotechnology.
Lavin seeks backing
for the $200 million Illinois Opportunity Fund, which would provide
venture capital to Illinois entrepreneurs.
Lavin expects the program
to ultimately be self funding, and he adds, "The Illinois
Opportunity Fund will barely cost the taxpayers a dime."
Lavin stressed other Midwestern states are enacting similar legislation,
and warns Illinois will fall behind in economic development without
passage of the legislation.
Lavin also outlined
programs backing biotech and support for alternative energy efforts
in wind power, ethanol fuels and clean coal technology.
editor Mark Roberti brings the global leaders
of RFID technology (radio frequency identification) to Chicago
today at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers.
Thornton, president Illinois Technology Development Alliance,
and Tom Churchwell, managing partner, ARCH Development,
welcome three promising Chicago area startups at today's Monday
Morning Meeting at the Evanston Hilton.
are: Mary Jo Gorman, co-founder Advanced ICU
Care, a remote intensive care monitoring services provider; Garnet
Steen, founder RelyData which helps identity theft victims,
and Steve Gately, president, RND Pharmaceuticals,
an early stage biopharma firm exploring cancer treatments.
Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.