26 November 2012

P3RD and Mapping Innovation in Canada

Last week I attended a couple of interesting talks that provided good inputs to our ongoing discussion about innovation in Canada. The first, by the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, spoke at the Toronto Board of Trade. In his address, Minister Flaherty outlined some of the government's priorities going into the next election. Budget consultations are set to start this week, and Minister Flaherty offered a reasoned approach to where the government sees potential for reducing debt and fostering growth. He also mentioned kick starting the venture capital fund, to be led by the private sector (an excellent example of public-private partnerships for R&D: P3RD), that was announced in the last budget. Key to the government is encouraging economic growth through investments in infrastructure, skills training, R&D, and innovation.

The second event was Rob MacIsaac, President of Mohawk College & Chair of Committee of Presidents, Colleges Ontario, who spoke at a Canadian Club luncheon on "Unleashing the Potential of Ontario’s Colleges." MacIsaac picked up themes raised by Minister Flaherty, notably the links between skills training, R&D and innovation. He rightfully admonished the Ontario educational system for not working better as a system - a point raised during the Globe and Mail`s Our Time to Lead focus on education. Ontario needs to do more to realize the value of all educational inputs, and to retool our colleges, polytechnics and universities into a true system that effectively responds to and leads the province in terms of knowledge, labour and research production.

These themes are being raised at Colleges Ontario's annual Higher Education Summit, which offers an excellent array of speakers delving into these issues. Highlights of today's schedule include the future of manufacturing (set for disruption by the emergence of low cost 3D printers, or example, and the Maker Movement), and a panel on the future of post secondary education. 

The links between skills training, innovation and R&D represent a key front in our attempts to foster greater innovation across the economy. We explore these in our recent Toronto Next: Return on Innovation study, which shows there is still a lot of work to do in ensuring firms understand how innovation inputs lead to productivity outputs. Key for polytechnics and colleges is the development of innovation literacy in our graduates, and the promotion of P3RD. Those interested in innovation literacy and skills will be interested in this article on "Must-Have Job Skills in 2013", which shows strong parallels between what we discerned in our Toronto Next study.

And on the topic of P3RD, we will be launching a new industry web service that is designed to link the private and public sectors for R&D at the ACCT Canada conference next week. INNOVATION 2012 – Connecting R & D and Commercialization, being held 2-3 December in Ottawa, promises some excellent discussion on this and many other topics. It is not to be missed. On Monday I am convening a panel to discuss how best to link our public and private sectors for improved research and development. We will feature our mapping innovation app, which enable industry to find a public innovation support provider through an easy to use web application. Stay tuned for more details.

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