UPDATE: This post from February 21, 2016, is being republished in the light of the announcement that Club Penguin is closing its doors in March. No amount of PR spin, arm waving, or equivocation can make the bitter truth of this post go away. I note that Lane Merrifeld and Accelerate Okanagan have been conspicuously silent. […]
Accelerate Okanagan should be commended for publishing a document, the stated goal of which is to “assist in attracting new talent, companies, and potential investors to the Okanagan, as well to inform policy makers and the media.” Such reports are commonly used to promote a community or region’s economy. However, as with the earlier 2015 report, there are persistent issues, particularly with the industry definition and methodology of the study. The result is questionable data and numbers that simply do not pass a basic “sniff test.” Accepting the results of this study as published may only serve to mislead community leaders on planning, and mislead prospective entrepreneurs considering relocating here.
The global agribusiness industry has recently seen a feeding frenzy of merger and acquisition activity. The announcement this week of Bayer’s proposed purchase of Monsanto after months of difficult negotiation is only one among other such industry consolidation deals. Dow Chemical and DuPont agreed last year to merge their crop science businesses, a deal currently under Justice Department review. Canadian fertilizer companies Potash Corp. and Agrium also agreed to merge this week. Finally, Swiss pesticide giant Syngenta AG agreed to a $43 billion takeover by China National Chemical Corp., a state-owned conglomerate that already sells generic agricultural chemicals. The bigger picture suggests severely reduced competition, higher prices for farmers and consumers, and increased global corporate control of crop seeds, particularly GMO’s. So what is going on here?
In 1981, Richard Feynman, probably the most famous physicist of his time asked the question: “Can we simulate physics on a computer?” At the time the answer was “theoretically yes,” but practically not at that time. Today, we may be on the verge of answering “yes” in practice to Feynman’s original question. Quantum computers operate in such a strange way and are so radically different from today’s computers that it requires some understanding of quantum mechanics and bizarre properties like “quantum entanglement.” Quantum computers are in a realm orders of magnitude beyond today’s supercomputers and their application in specific computational problems like cryptography, Big Data analysis, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and sub-atomic physics will change our World. Canadian quantum computing company, D-Wave Systems has been at the center of Google’s efforts to pioneer this technology.
There is a lot of hubris and fantasy here in the Okanagan that no amount of reality can kill. Contrasted with that is a political faction that wishes for nothing more than the status quo. In yet another example of Kelowna’s long-standing poor employment market, and bizarre claims of being a technology industry hub, high tech employment in the Okanagan is being curtailed by the mass exodus of qualified graduates to employers outside the Okanagan.
In the simplest terms, the concept here is how a company can potentially increase both revenue and market share by executing a strategy to work with direct or indirect competitor(s) to the benefit of both, a win-win. The old Arab saying, “My enemy’s enemy is my friend” also applies. It can also be as simple as joining an ad hoc collaboration among a group of companies or a standards group to create market order and simplicity from an overcrowded and confused market. Customers invariably respond to products that provide the greatest value and paths to long-term increased value and cost reduction. Collaboration or “Co-opetition” is one of the most effective means to achieve that goal, particularly in an economic environment where “flat is the new up.”
British Columbia and New Zealand share many economic similarities, except that New Zealand has way more sheep, are way better at rugby and are better sailors. Both economies are focused on natural resource exploitation, tourism, wine, and horticulture. Both economies have similar populations though we have more space and are not isolated in the South Pacific. The motion picture industry has been a major factor in both economies, but both are highly vulnerable to foreign exchange fluctuations. Both economies have made efforts to diversify into high tech, pouring millions into development of startups. Both economies have had modestly successful companies in high tech, which have been bought out and moved out. The crucial difference may be New Zealand’s pragmatism about how to deal with this economic reality. British Columbia could learn from New Zealand.