29 March 2012

Complementarity, coopetition, and clusters

While we in Ontario await news from the Ontario Budget as to how it will affect research funding - in particular the scaling back of Commercialization and Innovation Network Support - there is the Federal Budget coming today that promises a focus on innovation and productivity. Meanwhile, two articles from yesterday offer relevant insights as we retool Canada to support more innovation, from business investment in R&D to skills development for the innovation economy. The first, encouraging Canadians to take more economic risks, offers good insights on collaboration as one key way to capitalize on our inventiveness. Another article on the MITACS program, featuring Arvind Gupta, a member of the Jenkins Panel along with Polytechnics Canada CEO Nobina Robinson, shows the value of applied research while engaging graduate students in industry focused innovation. It's too bad the article did not also focus on the applied research colleges and polytechnics do, as this is our model of education. Anything that makes it easier for firms to tap into the talent in our post secondary system is of value to the country's productivity and innovative capacity.

The idea of collaboration and the relationship of clusters is being taken up today in the Toronto Board of Trade's Economic Summit. The article is an interview with Ted Lyman from Silicon Valley's IHS Global Insight, speaking at today's summit, who rightly points out that a public-private partnership approach to R&D and innovation (P3RD). On the linkages to education he says
There are flagship universities that produce the PhDs and the applied research. But the other universities, and community colleges, where the journeyman engineers and technicians come from, are all key to this. A lot of clusters actually sponsor training [programs] at community colleges. They pay to put in place a curriculum [and] everybody wins. The community college has their bills paid, the companies have people trained exactly for what they need and the people looking for employment have jobs delivered on a platter.
This is a sensible approach to complementarity, coopetition, and clusters supporting the geography of innovation.

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