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Once Nortels Gone, Who Fills the Void?

Mark Evans at All About Nortel brings up a good point this week: What effect will Nortel Networks’ demise have on Canada’s startup landscape?

It’s an interesting question as Nortel continues to auction its assets and as pensioners fight for their benefits. Those issues have garnered the most attention amid Nortel’s bankruptcy chaos. But what about the environment for high-tech jobs and R&D activity?

“In Canada – and probably many countries around the world – one of the great offshoots has been Nortel employees who have left the fold to create their own startups,” Evans wrote on Nov. 10. “Armed with experience and expertise, these entrepreneurs have played a key role in fueling the start-up landscape … When Nortel disappears, not only will the company disappear but, sadly, the flow of entrepreneurs coming from the corporate mothership.”

So who will fill the entrepreneurship void? Evans speculates that workers from companies including Research in Motion, Microsoft Canada, Ericsson, Nokia or Open Text all fit the bill.

Keep in mind, though, that there are still plenty of Nortel employees, and, for that matter, ex-Nortel employees. Surely some of them have to be mulling startups as they watch the once-venerable Nortel sink. Indeed, the mindshare that fueled Nortel all these years has been and is its most valuable asset. Even though the likes of Bill Owens and Mike Zafirovski, and a blind-eye board of directors, let the company fail, the rank-and-file kept going, hoping against hope that Nortel would be resurrected. That’s not going to happen. But it seems a fair bet that we will see great startups from ex-Nortel workers, startups that could turn into the next Canadian high-tech leader.


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