Industry group presses for strong federal procurement strategy for Canada’s tech sector

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Canadian technology industry association Technation is urging the federal government to dedicate a strong procurement strategy to the country’s tech sector as part of its COVID-19 economic recovery plan.

“There is an urgent need for a new procurement strategy, and this should be a part of the government’s overall economic recovery plan.”

In a statement released this week, Technation called for a “reasonable proportion” of federal recovery funding to be allotted to government procurement and adoption of tech solutions. The organization also urged the government to ensure Canada’s small- and medium-sized businesses can access these contracts through what it called collaborative industry engagement, as well as more streamlined procurement processes.
 

The group highlighted that although Canada’s innovative tech industry is well-positioned to support the public sector’s needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, many tech businesses will not survive the economic turndown.

“There is an urgent need for a new procurement strategy, and this should be a part of the government’s overall economic recovery plan,” said Angela Mondou, president and CEO of Technation. “We know it’s achievable. We’ve seen government respond with aggressive procurement to meet the needs of Canada’s health crisis. This could be carried out in a way that benefits all sectors, citizens and government alike.”

Mondou argued that a new procurement strategy would support the growth and commercial success of entrepreneurs, startups, and scale-ups; serve government, industry, and the public; capitalize on the fourth industrial revolution; and drive the nation’s economic development and recovery.

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Government procurement has long been a pressing issue for Canadian tech entrepreneurs. Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council of Canadian Innovators has previously urged Ottawa to direct more work to homegrown firms rather than outsourcing to foreign companies. Alex Benay, Ottawa’s former chief information officer, acknowledged in 2017 that the federal government’s tech procurement processes “favour incumbents and don’t foster enough new entrants into the process.”

“Traditional government procurement has meant that Canada’s most promising technology startups and growth companies don’t even bother bidding for contracts,” Mondou wrote in a recent opinion piece for The Canadian Press. “They can’t afford to bid because the process is too costly, lengthy, and unpredictable.”

In response to the pandemic, the federal government has refocused its innovation and procurement programs to help businesses rapidly scale up production or re-tool their manufacturing lines to develop much-needed products. The government has also signed several procurement contracts with Canadian healthtech companies during the pandemic.

Recently, Technation launched the Tech2Gov Innovation Exchange, a platform aimed to provide a simple consolidation of technology solutions that can be used by both the public and private sectors during the crisis. Technation’s members include organizations like Communitech, Microsoft Canada, and Ryerson University.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast