by Wendy Cukier, Vice-President, Research & Innovation
Ryerson is widely recognized as a leader in entrepreneurship education, with the largest program in the country. Ryerson’s Entrepreneurship Research Institute (ERI) is spearheading new research into entrepreneurial opportunities to look at how they can be encouraged. In addition to examining diversity, social entrepreneurship, and innovative training programs, Ryerson’s researchers are part of the world’s largest study of transnational entrepreneurship, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), acting as GEM’s lead for research in Ontario.
In anticipation of the release of Ryerson’s annual GEM Ontario 2014 report, which examines the state of entrepreneurship in Ontario, we can examine some of the key findings. The general survey of individuals is supplemented by an expert panel which assesses broad conditions shaping entrepreneurship including financing, policies, education and more. The principal findings of this year’s survey reinforce that, while Ontario remains a good place for entrepreneurs, more can be done to support growth and innovation among small and medium enterprises.
Several key findings from this year’s GEM survey also reinforce Ryerson’s strategy to drive entrepreneurship, innovation and economic development:
- The public’s attitude towards entrepreneurship in Ontario and the rest of Canada is positive. A substantial portion of respondents indicated that they personally know entrepreneurs, see opportunities for entrepreneurship, believe that entrepreneurship is a good choice and have a high level of respect for successful entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, Ontarians indicated that they are also somewhat risk-averse, with higher rates of fear of failure than Canadians in other provinces or in other jurisdictions.
- The level of early-stage entrepreneurial activity in Canada (13.1%) and in Ontario (13.0%) is higher than the average among Innovation Driven Economies (8.54%) and comparable to the U.S. (13.9%); Ontario’s rate of opportunity-motivated early-stage entrepreneurial activity is high (41.2%) although lower than the average in Canada (49.1%) or the U.S. (43.4%); Ontario’s rate of necessity-motivated entrepreneurship is also high. The national study also highlighted the growing importance of social entrepreneurship.
- Ontario’s entrepreneurs lag behind others in their investments in technology and technology-driven innovation. This is reinforced by expert concerns about low levels of Ontario investment in research and development (R&D) and the commercialization of technology.
- Ontario has a relatively high concentration of early-stage entrepreneurial activity among young adults in the 25-34 age range. Experts believe that while entrepreneurship education at post-secondary institutions is good, more is needed earlier – in grades K-12 – to develop entrepreneurial interests and skills.
- The experts also noted positive progress in government programs to support incubation, but continued to identify challenges in financing for new and growing firms and capacity building as important priorities.
- The results for female entrepreneurs in Ontario were significantly different than for male entrepreneurs, reinforcing the continued need to consider diversity issues, and, in particular, support for female entrepreneurs as well as aboriginal and immigrant entrepreneurs.
- The results of the GEM research for Ontario illustrates the evidence-based approach Ryerson is taking to advancing entrepreneurship and innovation. Whether through finding new ways to produce entrepreneurs or by creating the means to improve communities around them and abroad, Ryerson faculty are in the business of “doing”, and that is what being an entrepreneur is about.
For more information, read the latest issue of INNOVATION, Ryerson University Research & Innovation Newsletter