What Good is OCRI?

I had an interesting discussion last week regarding OCRI with a few local entrepreneurs.   The general issue being “What good is OCRI?” for entrepreneurs in Ottawa.

There was a lot of negativity about the lack of relevance and the fact that OCRI has increasingly become something of a joke around town due to its public fights with politicians (“The City does not own OCRI!”), lack of transparency and general lack of  results.  OCRI has serious issues, there is little debate on that point.

However, it is worth noting that OCRI does/has run some programs that, in the past, I have personally found of value and which are worth highlighting:

  • OCRI Awards – The annual award program is a great help to local companies from a marketing perspective.  It raises awareness of local companies in the region, and for the winners offers ongoing value for marketing as well as during fund-raising and talent recruiting.
  • Market Research – It is not generally well-known, but OCRI can offer free market research reports (covering competition, market sizes, market trends) from major research firms.  These research reports typically cost thousands of dollars per report and are out of reach for most entrepreneurs at the early stages.   The OCRI membership fee alone is worth the value of the marketing reports that OCRI can offer for free.
  • Trade Shows –  In the past OCRI has co-ordinated international trade show participation where they have provided shared booth space at discounted prices for local companies.   For an early stage company this sort of assistance is very valuable as trade show participation is generally costly to plan, execute and fund.   In the case I was personally involved in, we were also able to receive partial re-reimbursement for our travel expenses from another government program OCRI was co-ordinating with.
  • Venture Capital Forum – I have participated in two forums over the years.  I found the preparation for the events and pre-screening coaching provided by OCRI to be constructive and valuable.  While no financing came out of the events, there was value to the networking and experience in presenting.   The resulting improvements to my pitch were helpful in subsequent VC pitches I gave.
  • Entrepreneurship Center – Early on in my entrepreneurial journey, I used the online resources of this program extensively.  The material was well-organized and practical… and saved me a ton of time.
  • Events – In the past, OCRI has co-ordinated some very relevant, inexpensive and useful networking and educational events.   In particular, the Bill Gates events were world-class.
  • Job Board – In the past, I have posted jobs to the OCRI job board.  Having a job board that is regionally oriented and which doesn’t have outrageous fees associated with it can be very useful to an early stage company when recruiting.

Government Grants, Loans and Financing

Yesterday I attended the TiE event on “Leveraging Government Funding – Sources and Strategies”.  It was a good session.  For any aspiring entrepreneur in Ottawa, I highly recommend joining the TiE organization.

For those entrepreneurs looking for alternative sources of capital for their start-up, a very good site which provides comprehensive information to help you find available programs from Federal and Provincial governments is http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/search/sof/.

Ottawa University #8 in Research Income in 2008

Research Infosource published a report titled “Canada’s Top 50 Research Universities List 2009 Analysis“.

researchuni Ottawa University came in #8… unfortunately Carleton University didn’t make the list.

Pharmaceuticals to Replace Telecom as Canada’s Top R&D Spenders?

RESEARCH Infosource released a report last week titled “Canada’s Top 100 Corporate R&D Spenders List 2009 Analysis

Canada’s communications/telecom sector was the number one R&D spend – with 2008 research spending on associated products and services representing 40% of total industrial R&D.  Of the top 100 R&D performers, 15 were from the communications/telecom sector.


In 2008, Nortel was the number one R&D spender.   Nortel spent more on R&D than number 2 Bell and number 3 Magna combined.

Next year’s report will likely see the pharmaceutical sector replace communications/telecom products as the leading performer of R&D in Canada.  According to RESEARCH Infosource –

The full effect of the deteriorating world economy will be reflected in next year’s Fiscal 2009 corporate R&D spending results. It is hard to envisage better overall performance than in 2008. For one thing, it appears that Canada’s perpetual R&D spending leader (Nortel Networks) will be absent from the list in 2009. In consequence, total corporate R&D spending will undoubtedly be affected – in a downward direction.

The full report from RE$EARCH Infosource is available here and is worth reading.

Automated Testing Tools for iPhone

I recently asked some friends for their insights into automated testing tools for iPhone.   Based on the feedback (special thanks to Kevin Burr!) and some research, it turns out there are a few expensive commercial services/tools and some emerging and very interesting open source applications, including:

DeviceAnywhere (commercial)

Cucumber (open source)

A good overview of integrating Cucumber with the iPhone –

Here is a video of Cucumber driving an iPhone application –

Google Toolbox for Mac (open source)

UIspec (open source)

Some good blogs with current information on iPhone GUI testing include:

GUI Mock Up Tools for iPhone

I posted some information back in August about GUI mock-up tools.  Since then, I have tried a variety of tools, including the hosted Protoshare and the multi-platform desktop application Balsamiq Mockups.    In the end I selected Balsamiq Mockups as the preferred tool to use.

The following shows an example of the type of prototyping that Balsamiq Mockups can deliver.  It also provides the ability to automate the navigation to more easily show the flow and intended behavior of the application.

The following video provides a good overview of the tool and its features:

The reasons for selecting Balsamiq Mockups:

To make it easy to share the mock-up files within the team, we also decided to use dropbox.com.    Dropbox allows seamless sharing of files with a team, provides backups of the files, allows multiple computer access…


This blog entry has some good pointers to various templates and stencils that are useful for doing iPhone mockups – http://iphoneized.com/2009/03/roundup-iphone-stencils-graphics-templates/, as well as additional insights into iPhone mockup tools (both computer and pen and paper!) – http://iphoneized.com/2009/11/21-prototyping-mockup-wireframing-tools-iphone-app-development/

Social Networking + Mobile = Next Killer App

Morgan Stanley recently published data on key economy and internet trends.  The presentation is available online at various locations, including SlideShare below:

Some key highlights:
  • Mobile internet usage will be bigger than most think
  • Apple Mobile share should suprise on upside near-term
  • Next generation platforms (social networking + mobile) driving unprecedented change in communications + commerce