Alberta business leaders are coming together this week to unpack Alberta’s “scale-up gap,” devise new ways to generate jobs and drive economic growth.
Officials of Mount Royal University’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship 2019 Small Business Growth Roundtable on Thursday say that while half of Alberta startups survive for more than five years, only 0.1 per cent of small firms become mid-sized, and only two per cent of mid-sized firms become large.
“It all starts with ambition — an unwavering desire to grow your business. But beyond this, where do leaders focus to scale their small businesses? This is the sweet spot for this gathering,” said Simon Raby, assistant professor in entrepreneurship at MRU.
“This event is part of a 12-month consultation process which started with a roundtable last October and we’ve also undertaking some detailed cases and research with companies experiencing what we label as growth episodes.
“Fundamentally we want to better understand how companies are scaling up and what they need to successfully scale. Understanding in greater detail what triggers a ‘growth episode’ and how such an episode is sustained is a central part of this.”
He said all this work will contribute to a report on the Scale-Up Challenge which is scheduled to be released in the early part of 2020.
High Growth Firms (HGFs) contribute disproportionately to job creation and are rare. Between 2009 and 2012, HGFs accounted for 1.24 per cent of all Canadian firms and delivered 63 per cent of the total net job growth. The troubling fact is stagnant or declining firms actually destroy more jobs than they create, say officials of the roundtable event.
Raby said that firms on average experience a growth episode of between three to six years so it’s not a sustained process. What are the conditions that have led to a growth episode for an organization and how can the probability be increased for other firms can experience a growth episode?
The roundtable will gather successful small business leaders, policy-makers, researchers and students to consider the nature of leadership talent required to grow more Alberta small businesses. Keynote speakers include Mark Hart (director for Goldman Sachs U.K. 10,000 Small Businesses program) and respected entrepreneurship scholar and educator Norris Krueger.
Raby said 60 are registered for the event which takes place between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m Thursday at the Lincoln Park Room at Mount Royal University.
Mario Toneguzzi is a business reporter in Calgary.
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