24 September 2010

Innovation needs a backbone

ORION's new CEO Darin Graham spoke to the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance earlier this week on the topic "Innovation needs a backbone." Graham's talk was an excellent call to industry to invest in R&D, as well as for those of us in the public innovation support sector to work together in supporting industry innovation. ORION provides the necessary ICT capacity to enable collaboration in the public R&D sector, and opening this up to the private sector is a good example of what a P3RD (see "the innovation equation") innovation support system can be.

Graham reminded us that innovation does not inherently exist in the universities and colleges; rather, it is inherent in the people who go there - the students, faculty and our industry partners. He also reminded us that innovation in not invention. Innovation has outcomes in the realization of social and/or economic value. Fostering innovation is at once as easy as enabling serendipity and interprofessional collaborations, but as difficult as doing this in a world of competing values, cultures ("academic: publish or perish versus private: profit or perish") and priorities. To enable innovation we need transparency in terms of our interface among organizations (c.f. brokering R&D relationships) and in our approach to intellectual property. This form of open innovation will push productivity improvements through a complementary approach to enabling industry innovation through a robust innovation infrastructure, in this case the ICT products and services that are the interface to collaboration as well as the locus of R&D development itself.

And while we are on the topic of enabling innovation, here is a link to a recent article that reinforces the need to invest in education as a main driver for an innovative economy. This includes integrating immigrants into the work force and addressing the skills gap and skills shortages we face. Ensuring we have highly qualified and skilled people with innovation literacy across all economic sectors will help lift Canada's poor productivity performance.

No comments: