15 March 2012

Open Letter To His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston: On Innovation in Canada

15 March 2012

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa ON K1A 0A1

I read with great interest the article in today’s Globe and Mail in which you outline your views for improving Canada’s innovation performance. I agree with your view that we need to foster a culture of innovation in order to encourage social and economic productivity. Your point about industry receptor capacity resonates with our own work in applied research and the college and polytechnic ability to engage industry with our talented faculty and students. It is on these points that I would like to make two very important additions to the conversation on innovation:

·         As a country we need to encourage innovation emerging from our world leading university research labs, but just as important we need to encourage firms to invest in research and development. This includes applied research conducted at colleges, polytechnics and universities that work with industry to translate discoveries into new products and services.
·         Canada is well on its way to building high functioning innovation ecosystems, but these must also include the talent stream from colleges and polytechnics. Canada is first in the OECD for post secondary education attainment, only when you include colleges. In fact, over 25% of George Brown College students come with a prior university credential or experience.

Resilient regional innovation is a cornerstone of any highly innovative and productive society. By integrating the complementary strengths of our college, polytechnic, and university capacity, and by linking this with industry and innovative firms, we can best future proof the Canadian economy. George Brown College faculty, students and industry partners are hard at work in getting new products to market in diverse fields: from health technology, to green building systems, to food products. We invite you to visit us to see firsthand what colleges and polytechnics are doing to enable the innovation economy.


Robert Luke, PhD,
Assistant Vice President, Research and Innovation

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