13 October 2010

10 things to improve innovation

A report out today from the Coalition for Action on Innovation in Canada lists 10 easy things Canada can do to improve and foster innovation. I've pasted this list below. Download the complete report here.

The list is interesting for its focus on spurring industry R&D spending through incentives, as well as a target on education. We should be fostering innovation literacy throughout the entire school system across the country.

What is missing from the list is simply marketing: letting firms know that the postsecondary institutions that comprise the public sector facet of the innovation system is here and ready to work with them on improving products, processes and practices. A study last year by NSERC that looked at industry awareness of their R&D programs (whereby industry can partner with an academic institution) showed a very low rate of knowledge (only about 7%) on how NSERC for example can help firms innovate with PSE partners.

And speaking of partnerships: NSERC yesterday announced three new platforms for funding college applied research in concert with industry partners.

Ten things Canada can do quickly – and pretty cheaply – to become a leader in innovation:
1. Make R&D tax credits open to public companies and businesses that lose money.
2. Create government-sponsored “co-investment funds” with private investors to finance emerging companies.
3. Adopt the world’s strongest intellectual property regime.
4. Launch pilot partnerships between retired entrepreneur coaches and startups.
5. Enlist more retired executives to help the government dole out R&D funds.
6. Use the federal government’s buying power to spur adoption of new products and services.
7. Set a national target of a 90-per-cent high-school graduation rate and boost master’s and doctoral graduates.
8. Help foreign graduate students gain permanent immigration status.
9. Form a national network to share know-how among existing clusters of innovative companies and industries.
10. Create an independent advocacy group to push innovation by Canadian companies.

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