14 March 2016

At its core innovation is a mind set

"At its core innovation is a mind set" said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development during a lunch time speech at the Toronto Region Board of Trade. And he is right. Minister Bains made the point repeatedly that Canada should be telling the world about our business strength, our leading position as tertiary educated population (including college and university graduate), our leading basic research capacity. Where we need to do more is in translating this into innovation for Canada. His speech was followed by a panel of discussants and a follow on response by the Minister. All in all, a good discussion on the importance of innovation, and importantly, what the federal government will do about our poor record in innovation.

Minister Bains called for Canada to leverage Canada's diversity for competitiveness and prosperity. To focus on the range of industries in the country, old, new and emergent. Innovation is the ability to find solutions to big problems, and this includes social innovation, he said.

And while the focus is on many industries, clean tech is a priority and not just to our country; it represents 3 trillion to the world economy. "A clean environment means a strong economy" and this will be a focus in the upcoming budget and the Innovation Agenda he has been mandated to create. Collaboration will be a hall mark of this Innovation Agenda - not just in how it will be created via the consultations such as that today, but also in how innovation is supported. This includes the development of clusters: the Government is committed to creating a national network of clusters to replicate the success of DMZ and MaRS. This is a good ting. We have a well defined ecosystem wherein colleges, polytechnics and universities work in concert to support innovation in the public and private sectors. "Innovation is a team effort" the Minister said, and this complementary approach ensures that the right people, with the right skills and the right context are applied to innovation needs as they arise. 

Fundamentally Innovation is about investing in people the Minister told the crowd. This includes STTEM skills and coding - ensuring that our youth can be both producers and consumers in the technologically mediated world. This world will be defined by a focus on climate change and clean tech; Clean Tech companies and technology are important to government because they are important to the society of today and tomorrow. Innovation must be done in a global context, the Minster reminded the audience, and this is Canada's time to lead.

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