From the editor: “C” for Canada... and its innovation

Friday October 23, 2015
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Oct. 23, 2015 - It’s only been a few weeks since classes have started but according to The Conference Board of Canada, our country hasn’t been performing too hot on a recent report card.

Last month, Canada received a “C” rating on the board’s How Canada Performs: Innovation report card, ranking 9th among 16 international peer countries. Not terrible, but certainly not the kind of grade that would be proudly displayed on the fridge. But don’t be discouraged yet — the score is an improvement from our “D” grade and 13th-place ranking from the previous report card.

Ten indicators were used to evaluate the innovation performance of all 16 countries this time around, including capacity (public R&D), activity (business R&D and investments in venture capital) and results (evidence in terms of patents and labour productivity). The board found that Canada is a middle-of-the-pack performer, receiving one “A”, three “B”s, three “C”s, and three “D”s.

Daniel Muzyka, board president and CEO, says the improved grade is largely due to an increase of venture capital investment and a strong showing on entrepreneurial ambition. “While Canada’s overall ranking is slightly better, it masks downward trends in some key innovation drivers and highlights the need for the private and public sectors to improve their innovation game in a much more competitive environment,” he said.

(In case you were wondering, the top three countries are Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Here at home, Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia are the top-rated provinces, while Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick are the lowest-ranked.)

The report suggests several methods Canada can pursue to help boost its innovation performance: increase innovation-related spending, implement and use technology, create a healthy business climate, and enhance management skills and expertise. Now, I’m going to throw it back to you — knowing this, do you have what it takes to innovate?

This column previously appeared in the October 2015 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.

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