01 May 2008

Going where the puck will be

The Economic Club of Toronto yesterday hosted John Wilkinson, Minister of Research and Innovation for Ontario, in a lunch time address. Minister Wilkinson's speech outlined how the Ontario government is investing in R&D in the province, and made reference to the recently announced Ontario Innovation Tax Credit program and the innovation priorities of the McGuinty government. The government seeks to become a "catalyst for change" in fostering innovation and economic productivity, where "basic and applied science are not interfered with by political science." Wilkinson outlined the government's plans to do a better job at fostering research excellence and extracting value - and jobs - from research. His challenge to the audience was to work together to do a better job at telling our research success stories, and to "go where the puck will be, not where it is now" (citing Walter Gretzky's advice).

This fits with the idea that innovation is almost always recognized ex post facto, but that we need to be proactive in our investment of time, energy and resources in assessing where we can, as Wilkinson noted, "be in the top 3 in the world." This is a good strategy, and Wilkinson made reference to research conducted in colleges, universities, research hospitals and institutes as forming part of the total research and development capacity in Ontario. The explicit recognition of all facets of the R&D pipeline that includes college applied research is part of a fundamental strategy to organize the network effects of utilizing the diverse and complementary capabilities of the innovation spectrum, all oriented toward increased productivity for Ontario and Canada.

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