Get in the game

You see that’s the difference between me and some others. They talk about ‘levelling’ the playing field. I talk about just getting on the field to begin with.

Vancouver video game developers think provincial government should counter Quebec tax incentives they say are luring away business.

A new provincial government trimmed Quebec’s tax incentives in 2003, but companies there can still receive up to a 37.5-per-cent labour tax credit.

Ontario is also in the incentive game, with an Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit that provides up to a 30-per-cent tax break (raised from a previous 20 per cent in the 2006 budget) to eligible companies.

I know that both Nova Scotia and PEI are aggressively targeting animation and have incentive programs in place.

The truth of the matter is that the video game development biz is an exciting one. It is known to be able to attract and retain young people in the community. The salaries are reasonably good and – importantly – the sector likes to ‘cluster’. The more the merrier.

It wouldn’t be too hard to imagine an animation cluster in New Brunswick. But as usual these days, we would be way behind the curve and would have to play serious catch up.

My mind is more preoccupied with how to get ahead of this stuff. Why can’t New Brunswick try to get in early? Why wait 25 years and then say we want to be in the life sciences biz?

Data centres are a relatively emerging opportunity (nowhere in Canada has staked this yet) but they require cheap power.

What about Web 2.0 stuff? User generated media? Collaboration? Could NB become the facebook province? Attract the Canadian bilingual development studios for FaceBook, MySpace, and all those new Boomer social networking sites? What would it take in terms of government policy, education, infrastructure to attract these firms?

I don’t know – this is not necessarily a real example. But I still think we need to get out front. Rolling out tired terms like ‘aerospace’ and ‘life sciences’ sound nice but they require hundreds of millions in government investment and a 20 year or more commitment. Are we that committed?

Are there other, bite-sized chunks we can tackle that are under the radar? Could we attract a couple of billion of Dubai investment before anyone noticed? Could we become a global leader in language translation services before Quebec got cranky and plowed us under? Could we become a North American hotspot for medical services – both back office and services – before anyone noticed?

Front end this stuff.