The following article is from Alberta Venture Magazine, published July,
Sphere of Influence: Technology
Interview with Susan Miller, President & CEO, Inno-centre Alberta
For 18 years, Susan Miller demonstrated a rare Midas touch in the
high-tech world, running successful companies in both Canada and Europe.
The former president of Compaq Canada now puts that acumen into creating
them as president of Inno-centre Alberta, a high-tech incubator with
offices in Calgary and Edmonton. And her reputation has spread beyond
high-tech circles as the federal government gave a $1-million grant this
year to help Inno-centre Alberta's fledglings turn into viable businesses.
But Miller eventually wants to replace taxpayer grants with private
investment as Inno-centre begins to turn its current crop of nine
nestlings into self-sufficient companies that generate healthy profits.
Miller also volunteers her know-how to the advisory committee at the
University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business and as a jurist in the
Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year program.
What single policy decision could the provincial government make to help
grow the high-tech industry in Alberta?
The key driver to Alberta's economic growth is converting R&D expenditures
into successful products and companies. This requires the patient,
knowledgeable money that venture capital (VC) investments provide, coupled
with experienced technology company managers. With 10% of Canada's
population but only 2% of Canadas VC funds, Alberta must create more
VC-friendly tax policies compared to other jurisdictions. We also must
fund programs that enable Alberta companies to attract and utilize
experienced technology company managers and advisors, who are often only
available from outside our province. This will dramatically increase the
opportunities for Albertas emerging technology companies to secure and
leverage VC investments.
What is your professional legacy?
After 20 years of leading five profitable high-growth technology companies
making many long-term decisions, within a framework of one-quarter's
earning forecasts, I sought a role with a longer-term view and a broader
potential impact. Inno-centre Alberta's definitely fits the bill. In our
first seven years, we anticipate providing business mentorship to over 100
emerging technology companies, creating many jobs and helping to raise
over $80 million in private investments in this vital sector. If
fully-funded during our initial seven years, Inno-centre Alberta has the
potential to also generate sufficient deferred income, to provide
sufficient ongoing funding that will support 15 new companies every year
thereafter, without any further reliance on taxpayers' money. Now thats a
legacy! We are well on our way, having reviewed 230 companies and accepted
nine. However by 2004, after accepting more companies and garnering
private investments for several, we will only be able to accept more
companies if we obtain additional funding of Inno-centre Alberta's
operations. So in addition to our efforts, our legacy still requires
continued faith and lots of community support!
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