COVID-19 ‘exacerbating’ Canadian startups’ ability to innovate: report

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As the COVID-19 crisis applies further pressure on Canadian startups, a new report warns the nation’s innovation sector risks permanent middling status behind other countries.An October 15 report from the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) is urging governments on all levels to step up with incentives that would boost research and commercialization of technology and other innovations from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

One such possibility floated by the not-for-profit national centre of expertise is a tool familiar to some B.C. businesses: a patent box.

It functions as a tax policy allowing regional corporations to receive reduced effective tax rates on income from qualifying intellectual property (IP), such as patents and software copyrights.

B.C. was the only province to have such a tool before it was scrapped in 2017 after 11 years.

“COVID-19 is exacerbating the barriers and challenges faced by SMEs seeking to create new IP and obtain formal IP protections,” the council stated in the report written in partnership with Ontario-based ventureLAB.

“COVID-19 has created a situation where SMEs have to refocus their priorities—often toward basic elements of survivability such as maintaining staffing and customer bases. This incurs external costs, such as those associated with …

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