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kets. Some grants are given for attendance at trade shows. The week previous to the focus group sessions, a major trade show on potatoes was held in Charlottetown.
Island producers are encouraged to market to the United States and throughout Canada. Many successful businesses, for example in information technology (IT), may have the capability, but they do not know how to expand their market and seek new capital. The government has some assistance programs, and for established businesses, capital may be available, but in IT that is not the primary need. A system of mentoring by experienced businessmen or women would be more helpful.
The new Information Technology Association of PEI (ITAP) has begun to play this role, but further emphasis might be helpful. Some participants thought budding entrepreneurs can become discouraged by having to contact many different agencies or offices to find out about compliance with regulations or sources of assistance, and "one stop shopping" for assistance with regulations or technical assistance would be useful.
Technology services are likewise in need of strengthening. There are no services for norms, standards, metrology, or calibration on the Island. With the exception of areas covered by the Veterinary College, there are no services providing technical information or assistance with technology choice, management, or quality control. There are no industrial incubators associated with the university, as in some other places.
One participant reminded the focus group that we can not understand the use of knowledge without considering the content, and the content will be the key to success. He noted that multimedia flourished in California because it was born of a marriage of Silicon Valley technology with Hollywood, which provided the content as well as the market. PEI must provide its own content, whether related to the arts, to knowledge of potato cultivation or management of mussels and lobsters, or the unique contributions of the different communities. The knowledge economy must not be associated with unattractive jobs like call centers, but be seen as adding value to tacit and embodied knowledge. Lifelong learning must become ingrained, and the communities must become "telecommunities" in the learning society.