My premise is that increasing the capacity of Canada to innovate is predicated on realizing the value of public investment in science and technology and private investment in research and development. Often missing from this discussion is how to empower people to participate in the innovation economy. Understanding this requires us to unpack who does what to produce the research that in turn produces innovation. A review of the public and private actors that conduct these activities and how these activities are structured will reveal gaps in how we prepare people to innovate.
I have put together a Capacity and Contribution logic model for understanding the performer and funder of research, the type of research (as per the Frascati Manual) and the use of TRLs to enable a view to how the activities of R&D lead to outputs, and which outcomes each sector/actor seeks (Figure 1). This is one model for enacting what I call an Intentional Innovation; I have written about this previously as essential for enacting a full spectrum innovation.
|Figure 1: Capacity and Contribution: A Logic Model for the relationship between research and innovation actors, activities, outputs and outcomes
Figure 2 shows the typical path for invention by performer. In the higher education sector inventions will generally get to about TRL 3; the same is true for government research. While some commercialization does occur, on average this is difficult for a variety of reasons which I will unpack in a later column. The private sector will typically pick something up when it has been derisked (a point made very well by Marianna Mazzucato in The Entrepreneurial State).
What is lacking is a focus on the full spectrum of performers that addresses the full range of activities, often leading to the “valley of death” in the idea to invoice continuum (see Figure 2).
|Figure 2: Capacity and Contribution: Performer and "Valley of Death" in commercialization
In Figure 3 we see a model whereby P3RD is enacted. Public and private sector actors participate in activities designed to address this valley. This model helps to commercialize public science investments where appropriate, and to foster partnerships to support both market push (invention from lab to markets) and market pull (where industry accesses support from the public sector. This is, in my estimation, the supercluster model.
|Figure 3: A collaborative Capacity and Contribution model
- Collaboration Affinity/Intensity: Public+Public; Public+Private (P3RD)
- Regulatory Environment/Framework
- Data segregation by Filed/SubField; Geography; Institution
- Alignment of S&T and IR&D
- Not a linear process
- Funder vs Performer
- Push vs Pull translation models
- Industry-Academic porosity and aggregate performance
- Social and Economic Outcomes
- Time lines differ by discipline (c.f. engineering vis-à-vis arts and humanities)
- Projects and Programs of research
- How and with what supports does a project move from stage to stage
- Dispensation of Intellectual Property
Individual Skills and CompetenciesThis collaborative Capacity and Contribution model means many people working together. This assumes a multiplicity of skills, competencies, performers and partners can be oriented toward a common goal. The multiple individual skills and competencies as operationalized within Technology Readiness Levels can be understood as having three dimensions at each TRL:
- X Axis|Horizontal: Different disciplines;
- Y Axis|Vertical: Depth of skill or competency in a specific discipline;
- Z Axis| Diagonal: personal communication style or competency (cognitive, affective, psychomotor) required and capacity of individual to deploy skills.
|Figure 4: Horizontal and Vertical Skills/Competencies Matrix for TRLs
|Figure 5: A model for TRL skills/competencies matrix