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Raphael Hofstein
Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation

Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation, was interviewed by Huffington Post Canada business reporter Rachel Mendleson for an article about Canada’s innovation gap and the shortage of Canadian venture capital:

One of the best ways to [raise venture capital], said Raphael Hofstein, President and CEO of Toronto-based MaRS Innovation, is to increase government investment, a lesson he learned while helping to create a life sciences early-stage fund in Israel several years ago.

“Everybody told us — institutions, industry — that they will not participate unless government has a piece of the pie. So governments have to participate, certainly in the early stage,” he said.

. . .

Without these more fundamental supports in place, experts say it’s more difficult for Canadian companies to evolve into major firms capable of acquiring — or fostering the growth of — new innovations. So when a tech startup shows promise, it’s not unusual for a foreign company like Microsoft or Apple to come knocking.

But despite these shortcomings, Hofstein said he can see “the budding of the seedlings” of positive change on the horizon for innovation in Canada.

The latest federal budget set aside $400 million to boost private sector investments and prop up venture capital funds. Meanwhile, Hofstein said several provinces are spearheading their own efforts to increase venture capital in specific sectors.

Becoming a hotbed of innovation “can happen in a relatively short time,” he said. “It’s just a matter of a collective decision to go about it, and to believe that everything that happened to Boston and San Francisco can happen [to a Canadian city]. There’s no reason why not.”

The full article, “POSH View Media, Calgary Startup, Courted By U.S. Firms As Canada’s Innovation Gap Persists,” is available on the Huffington Post Canada website.

Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, marketing and communications manager.

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