Government bureaucrats will be few and far between at the national innovation summit, leaving the central focus on the business and academic sectors. The focus on two of the three major pillars of innovation is consistent with the thrust of the process to date, which has seen federal laboratories virtually locked out of the discussions.
The event will maintain the focus on the agenda’s four major themes: knowledge creation and commercialization, skills and learning, innovation policy and regulatory framework, and strengthening community capacity to innovate.
The broad thrust of the themes lead many to contend that process is too ambitious and may result in yet another strategy that’s long on vision and short on specifics.
“The consultations have pointed to a number of pretty complicated problems and I’m not sure we have answers for those,” says one observer, noting that consensus is difficult to achieve on issues such as commercialization. “The level of generalization is difficult to respond to.”
Other levels of government will be attending, but their participation is likely to be through informal, private discussions with the Industry minister, says a source.
“(Alan) Rock will have off-line discussions with his provincial colleagues at the ministerial level,” he says. “Government has had a chance for input through the submission process and regional summits (but) Rock is not interested in cultivating ties with bureaucrats.”
Rock will have to share the political spotlight with prime minister Jean Chrétien if he follows through with his intention to attend.