Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation – “Next Generation of Jobs Fund” a McGuinty Debacle?

With all the talk of government stimulus and spending it is disappointing to see the government not using programs that have already been approved and rolled-out.

Last year, the Ontario Government’s Next Generation of Jobs Fund was rolled out by McGuinty with much fanfare and promises of how his government would be fast tracking the program to “Git’r Done”.    The Next Generation of Jobs Fund is a five-year, $1.15 billion fund intended to create new highly skilled jobs.

“We’re stepping up because Ontario is not going to let others steal our future out from under us – we will produce the next wave of clean technologies that create jobs and clean up the environment,” said Premier McGuinty.

“We’re sending the message to companies around the world that if you’ve got a project that will grow your business and create jobs, we’ll make it happen in Ontario,” said Minister of Economic Development and Trade Sandra Pupatello.

“This fund is about building on our strengths to ensure Ontario can compete and win in the global economy – and create a better standard of living for Ontario families,” said Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson.

There was also much noise made about how:

Companies are guaranteed a decision within 45 days of submitting a complete proposal.

So, since being announced a year ago….   nothing has happened.

Furthermore, last summer – Nortel, IBM and Carleton University submitted a proposal to establish and collaborate on a project called “Coral CEA”.  The group’s proposal was to setup an organization to focus on development of communications enabled applications with the objective of spinning-off companies and jobs.  In-spite of being under bankruptcy protection Nortel remained committed to the proposal because of it’s strategic value.

This was a proposal from two of Canada’s top innovators and Ottawa’s leading University… and nothing has happened.

In fact, worse then nothing has happened – good ideas have been submitted and no action has been taken.

It appears that the only jobs that the NGoJF is creating are jobs for government organ grinders whose purpose is to turn our “Creative Class” into dancing monkeys for the bureaucracy -

If McGuinty is serious about his commitment to innovation and the NGoJF – he needs to roll up his sleeves and take direct personal action in his government.   Right now McGuinty and his government fall into the category of “Big Hat, No Cattle”.

UPDATE: The Strategic Opportunity Program (part of NGoJF) has been very quietly shut-down …

sopdone

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Nortel Shrinkage Continues… and Senior Executive Bonuses Expand

Current Staff Tally

30,000 – 1,800 (announced in 2008) – 3,200 (announced Feb 25th) = 25,000

Of the 3,200 – 1,000 in Ottawa are at risk according to the Ottawa Citizen.

The Citizen reported on a rather odd sounding bonus plan that Nortel has recently put in place – $43M goes to 1,000 employees ($23M of which would go to 92 senior executives), $3M to the rest.   This is intended by Nortel to motivate the employees – it is not clear if it will motivate as much as it will infuriate.

Ernst and Young, the court appointed monitor, has Nortel related reports published here.

Letters to Nortel from the Recently Severed Canadian Nortel Employees (RSCNE) are at http://rscne.wordpress.com/

Universities Benefit from Recession?

In the UK, University applications are up 8%, with some Universities are up significantly higher:

Applications to Oxford and Cambridge rose 9.9%. The University of Exeter said it had an 18% increase in applications from British students and 88% rise in those outside the EU. New universities and smaller specialist institutions also reported record rises. Bedfordshire University had a 24% rise in home applications.

Enrollment/application numbers for Universities in the US and Canada for late 2008/early 2009 are hard to find, however here is what has been published so far:

In Canada, there is concern that recession impacts on post-secondary institutions may include decreasing endowment funds, reduced/weakened fund raising, halted or delayed development projects and less government funding.

In US, Universities share similar concerns as in Canada.   In the US there is particular concern regarding  decreasing endowment funds which are due mainly to the stock market decline:

… the average college endowment lost 2.7 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2008, according to Commonfund, an organization that manages many colleges’ endowments. A follow-up survey found endowments lost another 22.5 percent in the five months that ended Dec. 1, 2008.

In the US and Canada, Universities are likely to be beneficiaries of the various stimulus packages, which should off-set some of the concerns that are currently being expressed.

Project Sun Spot… a Cool Idea with Loads of Microbusiness Potential

Sun has developed Sun Small Programable Object Technology (SPOT).  It’s an experimental platform to inspire developers to build the next great toy, sensor, communication device — who knows — using Sun technology.  The Sun SPOT devices make include a flexible hardware platform as well as the software and tools to make it easy to innovate, experiment, and prototype whatever a developer can imagine.

The Sun SPOT Device is a small, wireless, battery powered experimental platform. It is programmed almost entirely in Java to allow regular programmers to create projects that used to require specialized embedded system development skills. The hardware platform includes a range of built-in sensors as well as the ability to easily interface to external devices.

This little platform is full of potential for “Creative Class” people to base a microbusiness on.

SheevaPlug… a “Plug Computer”…a Cool Idea with Loads of Microbusiness Potential

A small computer in a wall-plug, running Linux.

Marvell is selling this “development platform”, targeted at the following applications:

  • Network Control Plane Applications
  • High-performance Storage
  • Single Board Computers
  • Enterprise Printers
  • DVRs, NVRs, Video Surveillance
  • High-volume SMB Gateways

For those of the “Creative Class” looking for new microbusiness ideas, it might be something worth looking at.