Canada may still be waiting for the Innovation Strategy action plan but Industry Canada is busy following up on last November’s summit with a series of targeted national workshops. The first was held in Winnipeg and focused on best practices for innovation–based community economic development. The March 12 event was chaired by Dr Rey Pagtakhan, secretary of state for science, research and development.
The Innovative Communities workshop brought together approximately 40 selected delegates, most of whom participated in the national summit, to exchange views on what measures can be taken to stimulate community-based innovation. A report will be prepared and circulated throughout the country by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and posted on www.innovationstrategy.gc.ca.
“There was good one-on-one exchange with real life case studies of how innovation has contributed to economic prosperity and the community,” says Pagtakhan. “The objective is to harness the power of innovation to advance a citizen’s agenda.”
One of the goals set forth in the innovation paper — Achieving Excellence: Investing in People — is to improve the innovation performance of communities across Canada by 2010. It is also tied to the strategy’s ambitious goal of establishing 10 internationally recognized clusters by the same date.
“We have a commitment to develop clusters across the country. It’s one of the pillars of the Action Plan,” says Pagtakhan. “We’ve identified a few key cities and Winnipeg is one of them.”
Last week, another national workshop on commercialization was held in Toronto. It was led by the National Research Council and involved 28 participants who were also involved in the commercialization break-out session at last year’s National Summit.
More workshops will be held in the coming weeks on issues identified in the Innovation Strategy’s Action Plan. But no decision has been made on when the document will be released. Industry Canada officials are working on how to position the official response to the recommendations made at the Summit.