Will the Innovation Strategy take Canada where it needs to go to develop a vibrant and prosperous knowledge-based economy? That’s the question being posed from an increasing number of private sector leaders as they attempt to respond to Ottawa’s challenge to crank up its performance for R&D spending, financing, skills and e-commerce.
There’s general consensus that the federal government has done a good job building the research base. What’s less clear is the next step. The divergence of opinion over who should control the commercialization process continues to rage (see page 3) and all eyes are on Industry Canada to see what emerges from its policy shops
It’s been a long wait. Industry Canada says it’s working on an action plan to implement the strategy, but summer is looming and nothing has surfaced. There are also disquieting reports that there are no less than three separate groups working within the department on commercialization, with little coordination between them.
In the meantime, the high-tech downturn continues to wreak havoc in Canada’s existing clusters and stymie efforts by start-ups to secure stable funding without yielding control of their intellectual property. The dilemma facing small firms seeking to grow is the focus of a new task force in the Ottawa area and it’s certain to gain adherents from other regions was well (see page 5).
Canada is once again at a turning point when it comes to the future direction for innovation and S&T. A false step could have far reaching negative consequences for Canada as a nation. It’s time for Ottawa to share its plans with the S&T community at large so tentative partnerships and collaboration can grow and flourish.