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The executive director of P.E.I.’s BioAlliance is furious that Atlantic Business magazine left the Island completely off its list of the top young entrepreneurs in the region.
“You’ve hit a hot button with me,’’ said Rory Francis. “I was absolutely gobsmacked. We’re very disappointed that what is happening in Prince Edward Island in a number of sectors and in innovation was not recognized in the Atlantic Business magazine in that edition. I just consider it a travesty that we’re not in there.’’
Francis is talking about the November/December issue of the magazine that includes profiles on 30 of the top entrepreneurs in Atlantic Canada under the age of 30.
But, Francis doesn’t stop at just the lack of P.E.I. representation in the profiles. He is critical of the entire edition which is entitled “Innovation Lives Here’’.
“I kept flipping page to page figuring, well, somewhere in here there has to be a P.E.I. story that kind of communicates a little bit of what’s happening here. Not even a scrap.’’
Francis said there is lots of innovation happening on P.E.I. in the areas of bioscience, aerospace, IT (information technology) and the food industry.
Francis said he had a very frank discussion with Dawn Chafe, the magazine’s editor and co-owner, over the omission.
Chafe told The Guardian it was no snub — no one from the Island was nominated for a top-30 profile and that the magazine did issue a call for nominations on P.E.I. the same way it did for the other provinces. She added the magazine also promoted the call for nominations on a number of platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and through its newsletter. In addition, the magazine contacted several organizations on the Island to make them aware of the 30-under-30 program and to request nominations.
“No one was more disappointed by the absence of P.E.I. from the list than we were,’’ Chafe told The Guardian in an email. “Unfortunately, none submitted a nomination. It is, unfortunately, a common experience for us with regards to P.E.I. There never seems to be much interest in recognition programs.’’
Patrick Farrar, CEO of the Startup Zone in Charlottetown, said he’s not surprised by the lack of attention in the magazine, saying P.E.I. never gets the recognition it deserves.
“We’ve seen tremendous growth over the past year of over 150 companies coming through the Startup Zone,’’ Farrar said, adding that up to 80 per cent of the companies are run by entrepreneurs under 30 while 60 per cent of the entrepreneurs in the accelerator program are under 30.
“There’s hard-working, dedicated, ambitious entrepreneurs here, some of the strongest I’ve ever seen across Canada and they have the Island’s best interests in their plans.’’
Farrar said young Island entrepreneurs have never been too worried about how they stack up on lists. They’re too focused on promoting and growing their businesses.
“People work harder here than I’ve seen in Toronto . . . there is enormous dedication and intelligence (here). There’s not enough people to do the work. They’re too busy building (their) business (to worry about nominations).’’