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Innovation advisor talks about business support programs in Corner Brook

Peter Howell of the National Research Council Canada spoke at an Innovation Week event at the Sir Richard Squires Building in Corner Brook on Wednesday.
Peter Howell of the National Research Council Canada spoke at an Innovation Week event at the Sir Richard Squires Building in Corner Brook on Wednesday. - Diane Crocker

Traditional job opportunities in Newfoundland have meant that people go to work for the government, the university or so some large established company.

For people around the Corner Brook area the latter most likely meant Corner Brook Pulp and Paper.

But Peter Howell said that’s changing.

“People want to control their own destiny,” said Howell, an innovation advisor with the National Research Council of Canada.

“They see companies that are established and think ‘why can’t I do that?’”

It’s Howell’s job to show them that they can do that. He works with companies that are using technology and innovation to help them find the right programming at the right time in their business.

Howell was in Corner Brook, his hometown, on Wednesday to speak at an Innovation Week event at the Sir Richard Squires Building. The event was hosted by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation.

His audience as a mixed bag of people — representing businesses and support agencies — with a vested interest in seeing entrepreneurship grow in the community.

Howell’s specialization is in technology and one of the key insights he gives people on starting and growing a business is to start with a customer who wants what you’re doing. That means they have to address a pain (something that’s lacking) in the market.

“If you can identify a product or service that addresses a pain in the market then you have an opportunity. And if it’s a really good idea you can find funding to support it.”

Howell said there are a large number support programs available today, much more than in the past. He helps businesses — from startups to established companies — to connect with them through the wide network of contacts that he has across Atlantic Canada and nationally.

Howell said there is a lot of sector specific things out there that offer different forms of support and he encourages people to talk to those agencies.

He listed off agencies like the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), groups like the Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE) and the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Technology Industries (NATI) and consulting agencies like Navigate and the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship.

(Edited to add information)

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