Canada’s drive to rise into the upper ranks of innovative nations is about to arrive at a critical juncture. Having spent billion of dollars building the nation’s research base, government must now take the next step and create bridges from discovery to the marketplace.
In many ways, creating and implementing effective commercialization policies and practices is an even more difficult challenge. And of course it takes even more money than has been committed so far, not to mention fa ar reaching vision accompanied by a level of coordination that has never been achieved in this country.
The use of S&T in the service of economic and social growth isn’t merely an expensive yet esoteric endeavour designed to placate the nation’s scientific elite and high-tech business community. It’s a central pillar of Canada’s future, without which the nation will almost certainly drop from the world’s handful of innovative, prosperous nations.
But to listen to the federal government, or nearly every provincial government for that matter, innovation and S&T are barely on the radar. And with the next round of annual Budgets almost upon us, innovation’s lack of profile is extremely worrisome.
There certainly isn’t a lack of good ideas, as any reader of RE$EARCH MONEY can attest to. It’s a matter of political will, making tough choices and thinking beyond the next election. Public ignorance on the centrality of S&T and innovation can be changed. The behaviour and motivation of politicians may prove far more difficult.