SMC to merge with ITAC

The voice of one of Canada’s largest IT industry lobby groups became a bit louder last month.

The Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) announced Nov. 21 that it intends to merge with the Strategic Microelectronics Consortium (SMC), a Kanata, Ont.-based not-for-profit association that promotes the microelectronics industry in Canada. ITAC, in Ottawa, represents the interests of 1,300 Canadian IT companies.

The two organizations initially crossed paths last summer while SMC was involved in a project called eMPOWR, designed to triple the number of graduates in the areas of photonics, microelectronics, wireless and radio engineering and opto-electronics by 2005. After hitting a wall in Ottawa, ITAC was called in.

“The (project) brought us together to communicate more (about) microelectronics and to support and grow small- to medium-size enterprises in Canada,” said Gaylen Duncan, president and CEO of ITAC. He added that the merger will improve the voice of the microelectronics industry in Ottawa, as there are now more resources from which to draw.

ITAC will remain committed to addressing the skill shortages in the industry, he said. “We’ve been working with governments and universities to increase seats they have in computer science and electrical engineering,” Duncan said. And on the government front, Duncan said ITAC is conducting surveys that are providing insights into the labour market.

Under the merger, all 43 members of the SMC are expected to join ITAC. Also, the former will not completely disappear; ITAC will create the strategic microelectronics council where all of SMC’s services will remain intact. Prior to the agreement, ITAC’s 300 member companies included only three microelectronics companies. The deal bolsters that contingent by 40 members, according to ITAC.

“We are doing this to help ensure the long-term health of an industry. The people that hold the levers in the economy understand what the benefits are of the sector we represent,” said Nick Deeble, a member of the board at the SMC in Ottawa. He added that the decision to merge was put to a full vote, and received overwhelming support.

Deeble said he recognized that the organization had to make a decision to ensure its survival, and that the merger with ITAC will improve its voice in Ottawa. “We had reached a turning point in our evolution and we weren’t sure if we (could) sustain an agenda that was valuable to our membership. The opportunity to merge with ITAC gives us the best of both worlds.”

He was referring to the creation of the council, because it will continue to give the microelectronics industry a voice within ITAC. The number of electronics members on ITAC’s 30-seat board will grow from one to four.

The merger is expected to take effect Jan. 1, 2002, with all legalities and financial details to be completed by the end of April 2002, according to ITAC.