12 February 2013

Conspicuous contribution and the policy and practice of enabling innovation

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce released their Emerging Stronger 2013 report recently, and it has some notable elements for enabling the innovation economy. These include closing skills gaps, notably in apprenticeship training, and ensuring there are strong links between education and industry (a core mandate for colleges), including for applied R&D. On the R&D side, here is an interesting take on tech transfer that links well to the notion of open source development communities and giving back more than you take. This is the value espoused by Tim O'Reilly; read about it here. Conspicuous contribution will be the norm going forward, and as we reorient the Canadian innovation system to a "collaborate to compete together" model, we will see more of this kind of thinking permeate the policy and practice of enabling both invention and innovation. This is an open, participatory, and people-centred innovation, and it is coming soon to an organization near you.

On the topic of better linking education to the needs of industry  I was interviewed for a MacLean's piece recently that discusses "the missing link": the disconnect between student expectations and finding a job. Unfortunately, the writer told only half the story here in terms of quoting me as saying that the university system does not teach about jobs, whereas the college system does. And there is a good reason for this. Universities have always prided themselves as being outside the purview of the reality of explicit job training (with the exception of professional programs). The college system on the other hand is an instrument of the state created to ensure there is an adequate work force. Both are necessary; neither alone is sufficient.

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