Digital Orphans

This is the inaugural post for a new blog we intend to use at the Canadian Media Production Association or CMPA to promote and discuss the successes, opportunities and challenges facing our creative industries in Canada. The CMPA is a trade association representing hundreds of independent film, TV and digital media content producers across Canada, contributing about $5.5 billion a year and more than 128,000 jobs into the economy.

Why “digital orphans?” Well a while back when I was competing for my new job as President and CEO of CMPA, the thought struck me that the future for many of our most creative human resources, particularly for a younger generation, is not necessarily that bright. It’s only a perception at this point and I hope I’m dead wrong, but I just get this sense that while we have an incredibly creative and entrepreneurial pool of talent in Canada, the options to source levels of financing, particularly development monies and venture capital required to sustain Canadian success stories in a globally competitive digital economy, are limited. The loss of Nortel, and Nortel IP, and the decline of RIM reinforce the fear that it is getting harder to nurture, sustain or grow indigenous digital content whether in traditional or new media businesses. A recent report released by the CIAC and partly funded by the CMPA entitled “New Directions for the Financing of Interactive Digital Media in Canada” highlights some of these financing challenges.

To me, problems financing development in digital and traditional media in order to access international markets is a big challenge. How do we to enable a transition to a digital economy that includes indigenous content creation broadly defined from software development to on screen production? Obviously our roots at CMPA are anchored in content creation in film and TV but increasingly media is part of a bigger technology evolution.

If we don’t have the right mechanisms in place to generate and exploit our own intellectual property in Canada for sale to global markets, we may be less competitive as a country. We will, therefore, also be less able to create and sustain the types of jobs and opportunities that will incent our most creative resources, our children, to pursue their future in Canada. Hence the idea of “digital orphans–seeking opportunity abroad because we didn’t value and invest in intellectual property in the same way we value traditional resource based industries like mining.

The result. Canada loses both jobs and those creative minds.

To me it’s an point worth debating just like the shape and direction of a digital economy strategy is a discussion worth reigniting. Because if content from software to media are the currencies of a digital economy we are going to face a trade deficit if we can’t exploit our own products.

It is time we figure this out together, before it is too late for our children and economy.

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One thought on “Digital Orphans

  1. guest says:

    I think one important point is to quite participating in a “competitive” economy. Competitive business is a dead model. Creative economy is a much more sustainable outlook. Looking at things as a competition implies a limited supply which is inaccurate in todays world of digital technology and access to “broadcast” work is unlimited. The future is bright and there is more than enough to go around.

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