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Feds offer NATI full support and $513,000 in tech funding

The province’s advanced technology sector is being provided roughly half a million dollars in fresh financial support from the federal government.

Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Technology Industries (NATI) board chairman Chris Dillon speaks during a news conference at NATI’s office in St. John’s Wednesday morning. — Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

Public support of this kind will speed growth in the sector, according to Camouflage Software president and CEO Kevin Duggan, ultimately paying dividends to the local economy.

“Over the years ACOA has invested nicely in Camouflage. But in return for that, locally, we’ve spent over $10 million in salaries and local contracting, just since our inception since 2008,” he said, attending the funding announcement in St. John’s this morning.

“That’s big dollars, in terms of the return to the community.”

The new funding is being supplied through ACOA, in two separate injections, totaling just over $513,000, to the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Technology Industries (NATI) for programming.

To start, $332,000 will be provided to help with the development and launch of a Commercialization Officer Internship and Directed Research Program — supporting work opportunities at local technology companies for college and university graduates, while also providing advisory services to companies looking to commercialize their technologies for sales in the international marketplace.

The program will be targeted to small and medium-sized enterprises.

The second batch of ACOA funding, $181,000, will go to the core operations of NATI, to help deliver “innovation programming” in 2016, bringing industry companies together and developing export market opportunities.

“This announcement today is a terrific example of the momentum and energy we see in our sector,” said NATI chair Chris Dillon.

“The programs we deliver with the help of our partners have a huge impact on these businesses, in driving growth, productivity, competitiveness and helping build a stronger future fir our industry here.”

After making the announcement, on behalf of minister responsible for ACOA Navdeep Bains, St. John’s South-Mount Pearl Seamus O’Regan was asked about NATI as a target for the new funding.

“They’re doing exactly what we need them to do, which is represent the industry,” he said. “The thing is many of these companies have similar problems and similar advantages and similar opportunities, but they need an organization that can speak for them and NATI does that very well.”

He said the local advanced technology industry has a strong foundation, with 170 companies or so and roughly 4,000 people employed — comparing its value “right alongside” the fisheries and tourism.

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