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INTERNET LEADERS URGE CANADIANS TO ACCELERATE E-BUSINESS INITIATIVES

Source: Canadian Broadcast Corporation

Posted on February 24, 2001

      Canadian businesses have made impressive gains in e-business but have not moved far enough to capitalize on global Internet opportunities, says a report of a roundtable group of industry leaders. The second annual report from the Canadian E-Business Opportunities Roundtable, released Friday, suggests Canada needs to accelerate Internet business activity or risk falling behind other countries.

      "Canada has made some impressive gains over the last year," said David Pecaut, president of iFormation Group, who co-chairs the roundtable along with Nortel Networks chief executive John Roth.

      "There are now more people and more businesses online, venture capital is rising, and there have been significant improvements in our taxation environment.

      "But if we're serious about building Digital North, we have to move at e-speed or risk other countries leaving us behind."

      The report warns that Ottawa's online initiatives appear to be losing steam and suggests that as governments worldwide race to foster better e-business environments, it becomes even more important to push these issues to the top of the Canada's agenda.

      "The combined forces of globalization and the Internet revolution mean all businesses will have to become e-businesses," Roth said in a statement. "For Canada, there is no more business as usual. The Internet revolution has changed everything - not just for dot-coms, but for all parts of the economy."

      Venture capital investment is rising, increasing to $2.7 billion in 1999 from $1.7 billion the previous year - a 59 per cent increase. But U.S. venture capital investments were 35 times larger than those in Canada by the end of second quarter of 2000.

      However, the report suggests more Canadian businesses are moving online. Mid-size businesses narrowed the gap with the U.S., while the percentage of large businesses online in both countries remained roughly equal. Small businesses in Canada continue to be under-represented online.

      Canadian Internet-related initial public offerings are still dwarfed by the number in the U.S. Given the size of our economy and population relative to the U.S., Canada should have seen between eight and 12 Internet-related IPOs in 2000 but fell short of even those expectations, according to the report.




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