Reflections on Role for COINPacific in Developing an Ocean Information Technology Cluster
The Role for the Private Sector
There are obviously many more high tech firms involved in the ocean information technology sector in BC than were represented at the COINPacific Forum. Just a cursory look at the directory on the VIATEC web site ( http://www.viatec.ca/directory.php?operation=sector&area=list&id=25 ) reveals a host of ocean-related companies, many of them world class.
The private sector is the driver of the economy, and the high tech sector is the engine of the new economy. Governments can foster growth, but
Leveraging the Traditional, Resource Sector Economy
Embracing information technology in the new economy does not by any means amount to the rejection of the "old economy" as represented by fishing, logging, mining and other extractive industries such as oil and gas. In other words, we do not have to turn our backs on these sectors in favour of, for instance, renewable energy technologies such as wind, wave and tidal power. The economic future of BC is likely to be characterised by a healthy balance among all these sectors, old and new. In fact, high tech advances are already transforming the more traditional sectors, thereby adding value to the economy and making these sectors world-beaters in a competitive, global economy. In the decades to come, however, only those traditional sectors that have managed to adapt themselves to the knowledge-based economy will survive and prosper.
Overcoming a Mistrust of Business in BC in General, and on
For COINPacific to succeed in creating a vibrant, creative ocean information technology cluster, one of the big hurdles to overcome will be an abiding suspicion of the private sector and private sector initiatives. In
What COINPacific Is and Is Not
The BC oceans community is faced with a number of contentious public policy issues at the present time, and the author has himself been deeply involved in a number of these struggles. In a free and open society, debate on these issues is to be encouraged. However, COINPacific is not the most appropriate forum in which to conduct this debate. Rather, the primary purpose of CoinPacific should be to provide a forum for the:
- sharing of information and knowledge on ocean information technology
- identification of knowledge gaps and priorities for investigation
- exploration and development of commercial opportunities and technology transfer
- establishment of public/private sector partnerships to add value to ocean information technology products and services, thereby maximising the potential of the information databases at hand
The establishment of a COINPacific office housed within the Innovation and Development Corporation ( IDC ) [ http://web.uvic.ca/idc/ ] at the
From an industry perspective, the task will be to draw in ocean information technology firms which are often competing with one another, and which are therefore often sceptical of any initiative to share information, especially that which may or may not be subject to intellectual property restrictions. The trick will be to convince local partners that we are not so much competing against each other as working with each other in competition with the rest of the world, and that the more we collaborate, the better able we are to create a sustainable, world-class ocean information technology sector of benefit to us all- our children, their children, as well as society in general. Let this be our legacy to them all.