Charlottetown's Startup Zone, UPEI give federal budget thumbs up

Charlottetown's Startup Zone, UPEI give federal budget thumbs up

The chief executive officer of Charlottetown's Startup Zone, which supports new entrepreneurs and their businesses,  says she's encouraged by this week's federal budget and what it could mean for P.E.I. 

Christina MacLeod points to the more than $1 billion in the budget for innovation and training, including money to encourage the development of tech business hubs and to help entrepreneurs find investors and supports. 

MacLeod said there are a lot of startups on the island that could benefit greatly from some of that funding. 

"Looking forward at the new economy, it's vital for us. And it's not just tech in the budget, which is great," said MacLeod.

"They also talked about agri-food, where we have a natural advantage here on P.E.I..That strength has been shown here...and we have a strong gaming sector here in Charlottetown as well."

Natural target 

Phil MacNevin, who runs his digital marketing company 'Lift Media' at the Startup Zone, says he's seeing a growing number of young entrepreneurs like him, keen to set up shop on P.E.I.

He's hoping that will make the Island a natural target for some of Ottawa's innovation funds. 

"I think there's a lot of need for [more funding] from my perspective," said MacNevin. "The more I've gotten involved with other entrepreneurs in the Startup Zone, it's been great to see people who don't have the business background I do... get that additional support that they otherwise couldn't find."

University hopeful for more research funding 

UPEI is showing its appreciation for the federal budget as well. In a news release, the university's president, Alaa Abd-El-Aziz pointed to signs there will be more support for research at the university. 

"We are excited to hear of innovation opportunities in advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health/biosciences, clean resources, agricultural discovery science, and climate change — all areas in which UPEI has expertise," Aziz said in the release. 

It's not clear yet how much of the innovation funding announced in the federal budget will ultimately wind up in P.E.I. MacLeod said she plans to make a case for funding support in discussions with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the provincial government. 

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