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Can start-ups get what they need from Canada's venture capital ecosystem?

In recent years, an increasing portion of the growth in Canada's tech industry has come from small, nimble startups. Quietly, cities such as Toronto and Waterloo are producing some of the hottest smart phone app developers and Web 2.0 firms in the world.

With companies such as Research In Motion and Google setting up shop beside the University of Waterloo, and startup incubation chambers such as Ryerson's Digital Media Zone in Toronto, it is becoming easier for young, hungry entrepreneurs to turn their visions into reality. But such companies still face difficult challenges: Canada's venture capital ecosystem isn't nearly as robust as it is south of the border, and brain drain is still a serious concern.

But the growing trend of startups raises an important question for Canada: are small, nimble app developers and digital media companies the future of the country's technology industry?

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Ray Sharma is well-positioned to know. Mr. Sharma is founder of XMG Studio, an award-winning mobile games company, and is chairman of Xtreme Labs, a Toronto-based mobile and web application developer. Mr. Sharma spent more than 11 years in wireless technology investment banking research where he was the top-ranked wireless technology analyst for five of eight eligible years.

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