A vision for Yukon as a tech leader

A visitor from Moldova has a dream for the Yukon. He wants to see a strong information and technology sector here that would service big clients from around the world.

A visitor from Moldova has a dream for the Yukon. He wants to see a strong information and technology sector here that would service big clients from around the world while providing good local jobs for bright Yukon minds.

“People will not only rely on mining,” said Vasile Nedelciuc in an interview last week. “Young generations will not leave their location of origin. They will stay in Yukon, work in Yukon, provide different types of services and not rely only on one type of industry, like it was in Moldova in Soviet time.”

Nedelciuc was invited to the Yukon for the research innovation and commercialization workshop hosted by the Yukon Research Centre last week.

His dream is achievable within five or 10 years, he said.

And he’s seen it done before.

Nedelciuc helped to grow an unlikely IT sector in Moldova after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Before that, the primary economic driver was agriculture.

Moldova did have an information and technology sector before the fall, but it mostly serviced the Soviet military industry.

Their software was mostly pirated from the West, said Nedelciuc.

After the fall, the IT industry collapsed. With out-of-date tools, it could not compete on a global stage.

Nedelciuc was an associate professor of computer science before he joined the democratic movement that eventually toppled the communist regime.

He spent 11 years in politics, was a member of the Moldovan parliament and chaired the foreign policy committee.

But eventually he found that he could not accomplish his vision for the country through politics alone, he said.

“The new democracy is not easy to build in an area where for decades we had an authoritarian regime where people lost their links with real life and they were forced to live according to Communist regime rules.”

So with the help of a courageous investor from the United Kingdom, Nedelciuc started an IT company with the goal of providing good jobs to the brightest people in Moldova.

They eyed large U.K and U.S. companies and tailored training and services to those markets.

“They need people who respect deadlines, people who deliver everything in time, people who are very communicative, people who use modern tools and people who are very inventive.”

Staff received free English lessons and training in the most modern Western tools.

The government helped, too, waiving income taxes for employees with a diploma in information technology working in the IT sector.

The company had it’s first great success in 2001 when it co-ordinated the first pay-per-view Internet webcast, an Elton John concert live in Turkey.

Today, Endava employs 1,400 in four countries and has major global clients including top banks and stock exchanges.

Nedelciuc is sure that the Yukon could similarly become an IT hub, servicing major clients on the west coast of North America.

“I’m convinced that many companies located on the western coast of America would prefer working with Whitehorse if you establish good companies here.”

All it would take is some vision, a little government support and some gestation time, said Nedelciuc.

Yukon must first invest in its communications infrastructure, he said.

The government should also provide incentives to attract the best companies and the brightest minds.

It must also invest in training, partnering with the best IT schools to set up a campus here or provide courses online, said Nedelciuc.

“The government should recognize that this sector is important for the country, because now those who are working with IT tomorrow will lead the world.”

The scheme won’t pay off for about 5 or 10 years, he said. But after that, the Yukon would have a strong sector to not only help diversify the territory’s economy but give some of Yukon’s brightest minds a reason to stay home.

“I’m afraid that young people who have started in high schools, many of them dream of working with informatics, with electronics, with aviation, other fields.

“They will look for other cities in Canada or will immigrate to United States to fulfil their dreams. You should think about young generations. You should think about sectors which provide jobs which are very, very efficient, and profitable economically.

“People working in IT, they are not polluting the environment, they are using a very small electricity, and they are working in offices remotely sending different messages resolving problems for big customers.”

Nedelciuc said he hopes Yukoners will step up to make his dream a reality.

“I wish all the best to young Yukoners, and I encourage them to convince or force the government to hear their voice and provide more opportunities for getting jobs locally, and not emigrating. Because you have a wonderful territory. I’ve visited some places around. It’s so nice, very nice. Beautiful.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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