The Quebec government should be congratulated for learning from past missteps and opening up the development of its new research and innovation strategy to the broader industrial and economic community. After receiving sharp criticism in the past for not consulting on previous strategies, the Charest government has invited two outside organizations to handle the consultation portion of the strategy's development (see page 5).
The reaction has been extremely positive, with previously marginalized groups now afforded the chance to make the next strategy the most inclusive ever. There's a lot at stake. Quebec has spent billions on research and innovation over the past decade and currently enjoys the country's highest R&D to provincial GDP ratio.
Yet continuing high unemployment and growing weakness in sectors such as pharmaceuticals suggests the policy environment and mechanisms for stimulating innovation and economic growth can be improved. The government is doing its part by quickly eliminating the deficit and now it's hoping to craft a set of policies that will boost industrial R&D, increase public-private collaboration, inject some real-world thinking into the education experience and support sectors with the greatest economic and social benefit.
Unlike other provinces, Quebec has placed considerable importance on the social sciences and humanities (SSH) and their role in enriching the province's innovation culture. By including both SSH and industry in the process, the likelihood of emerging with a research and innovation strategy that benefits the greatest number of people is greatly enhanced.