20 March 2012

Innovation Followership

Here's an interesting report on innovation measurement out of the EU earlier this year. The EU report uses standard metrics for innovation excellence (R&D included in this), things like percentage of populations with doctoral degrees, but also percentage of those age 30-34 with tertiary education completed. As I've noted many times, Canada is number one for tertiary education attainment when you include Type A (university) and Type B (vocational, or college). The EU is also tracking growth rates in education, which gives a hint at a future performance potential. Publications, R&D expenditures in public and private sectors and migration of HQSP all figure prominently here. It will be very interesting to read this against the Council of Canadian Academies' Expert Panel report on the State of Science and Technology in Canada (of which I am a member) and the sister Expert Panel on the State of Industrial Research and Development in Canada. Taken together, these two reports will provide a good snapshot of where Canada is in terms of international R&D performance.

What interests me in the EU Report is the concept of innovation followers. Business schools abound with courses on leadership, and some teach the concept of followership. It would be interesting to apply this concept of followership to Canada's innovation performance. Perhaps if we think of Canada's innovation performance in terms of followership we will have a better picture of a more suitable role for a country who, while outspending most other OECD countries on R&D, does very poorly at innovation (translating R&D into goods and services - social and economic). After all, it's the second mouse that gets the cheese.

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