This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Canadian government’s creation of the Information Technology Industry Association (ITIA), a nonprofit organization that has spearheaded the push for the country’s tech sector to grow.
Now, with the ITIA’s annual conference set to kick off in Toronto on Thursday, the organization has a new president and new chief executive officer, while also laying out its vision for the future of Canada’s tech industry.
The group, which has been at the forefront of lobbying the federal government on IT issues since 2009, is set to announce its new executive director on Thursday.
It’s the first time a government entity has stepped in to run an IT company since ITIA was created, said Kevin MacLeod, a University of Toronto professor who has closely followed the group’s history.
“The ITA is in a position to help make it more resilient,” MacLeod said.
The organisation was created by then-Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau in 2005, with a mandate to promote Canada’s technology industry and bring about an economic and social benefit to Canadians.
The ITA was created to foster collaboration between Canada’s government and industry to help Canada become more competitive in the global tech sector, said MacLeod.
“It was not a political organisation, it was a purely business organisation,” he said.
But in the years since the ITPA began, the group has taken a number of steps to further its mission.
It started to sponsor and organize conferences around the country, as well as hosting a series of “think tanks” in Ottawa that provide information to Canadian policy makers on a range of issues related to technology.
In 2011, it created the National Council of Canadian Technology Executives, a group that includes a number senior executives and government officials from various industries, including ITIA.
The organization has also stepped in as an advocate for the development of Canada as a tech hub and a hub for Canadian talent.
“When the government created the ITIIA in 2005 it was under tremendous pressure, given the huge growth in the technology sector, which was being driven by a number companies, including Microsoft and Facebook, which were all expanding into new markets and in some cases, with less-than-stellar results,” said Macleods wife, Jane MacLeod in a recent interview with CBC News.
“And it was really clear that there was going to be a big transition, and it was going be a lot of pressure.”
In 2017, the ITCA began its first-ever international conference, called TechStars, where it has also announced plans to host a series to examine the future opportunities for Canada’s young tech companies.
It is also planning to host another conference in 2019, this time in Dubai.
While MacLeod says he doesn’t expect the group to make any major policy announcements, he does anticipate that the ITTA will continue to push the government to support Canada’s industry.
“I think the ITAA has really come through in the past 20 years in terms of making sure that we’re not complacent in terms.
We’re not just waiting on the federal or provincial governments, we’re actively working with them, and that’s been an incredibly important part of the organization’s work.”
While Macleod believes the ITTIA will continue working to help promote Canada as an innovation hub, he also believes the organisation has a responsibility to continue to fight the fight against fake news and to push forward with Canada’s online policing agenda.
“One of the things that’s really important to us is we have to keep fighting,” he told CBC News, pointing to the growing number of hate crimes, online harassment and hate speech online.
“We have to continue working with all the partners in our industry to keep pushing forward and to see how to tackle this.”