State of the Nation 2010

Appendix B: State of the Nation 2008 Areas for Attention

Talent — developing a highly qualified workforce attuned to innovation opportunities

  • Young Canadians are excelling in science, mathematics and reading in comparison to their peers around the world, ranking in the top five in each of these categories. We must keep up with others who are improving their rankings.
  • In comparison to those in other OECD countries, few Canadian students are completing master's and doctoral programs in areas that drive discovery and innovation. Companies, governments, and universities can encourage more Canadians to complete advanced degrees by educating students on the range of S&T careers and providing students with career opportunities in S&T development, application, management and financing.
  • Canadians in the workplace who apply and adapt new technologies can drive innovation to new levels. Canada has not made progress in a decade in increasing the proportion of Canadians with basic literacy and numeracy skills. Governments and employers must champion adult literacy and technology training to address this skills deficit.

Knowledge development and transfer

  • In Canada, governments at different levels and the private sector have chosen to build research capacity at institutions of higher learning. Focusing resources of all sectors on research priorities, conducting research at international levels of excellence and better using research facilities at universities and colleges to train students in state-of-the-art facilities can help improve innovation performance and benefit companies.
  • Turning R&D excellence into jobs and a better quality of life depends on building strong connections among customers and suppliers, scientists and managers and managers and teachers. We need to advance the transfer of knowledge between science and business.

Business innovation

  • Canadian companies do not invest as much as their competitors around the world in R&D. We have made little progress in understanding why these competitors are more likely to see investments in the lab and on the shop floor as contributing to their business goals. This understanding is fundamental to evaluating the efficacy of policy instruments to stimulate innovation.
  • How Canadian technology companies finance their ventures and the availability of different sources of risk capital at different stages of business development can have a significant impact on commercialization success. Business associations and the venture capital industry can assist in the understanding of this area.

Tracking progress

  • More resources and greater effort must be devoted within the innovation system to capturing data, which better explain how individuals, companies and other institutions innovate. This can be done through business R&D and innovation surveys, sector-specific technology surveys and user surveys on information technologies and their applications. Without the tools to understand how innovation happens, we will be unable to formulate appropriate strategies for improving innovation performance.

All participants in the innovation system have a role to play in strengthening Canada's innovation capabilities. In the STIC's view, Canada has strong foundations on which to build. Many Canadians are leading the way with the support of all levels of government. If we adapt international best practices for Canada, focus our domestic efforts, maintain a watch on key indicators for success, relentlessly test the efficacy of our innovation support mechanisms, and act quickly to address areas of weakness, Canada will be able to compete with the best.