A series of articles in the Globe and Mail outline Canada's innovation policy and the context in which research and development (R&D) operates as a pipeline for innovation. The first article outlines the work to stand up the Canadian Innovation and Investment Agency. Many good points are raised about the need for clarity of purpose, but I would sum up the issue as a historical inability to differentiate R&D from innovation. Canada is the G7's highest per capita funder of research in the public sector and the lowest for business R&D. Compounding this is the fact that Canadian companies underinvest in education and training and new technology adoption. This is the three-legged stool of innovation and productivity.
The third article in the series offers a clickbait title that detracts from the main issues: the need to increase business R&D as well as receptor capacity in Canadian businesses for innovation and Intellectual Property (IP). This includes not just products (which are easy to patent), but also other forms of IP.
The continuum from basic and applied research through to experimental development constitutes the types of activities that make up the innovation carrying capacity of national economies: the ability to proactively create value from public investments in basic research by fostering private sector receptivity and engagement to the public S&T systems.
The bottom line here is that it is good to see innovation policy front and centre, it's just too bad that these reports did not unpack many important and related issues: diversity of actors, inputs and outputs; receptor capacity for supporting R&D and IP commercialization; and the role of reskilling for innovation to name just a few (check out two recent reports on the innovation literacy angle - one from Mitacs and the other from the Future Skills Centre).
Small companies that do R&D are more likely to survive and grow, hire more people, export more goods and services, and have a bigger economic impact in their communities. Startups, new companies, and small companies that are seeking to join the global economy in key sectors like health, IT, manufacturing and automotive – they need help finding supports to conduct R&D. The potential here is vast.