Re The $200 Billion Electric School Bus Bust Chris Goodfellow: Are we thinking rationally? The stunning extra cost to property…
Innovation in Canada
Written by Diana Thebaud Nicholson // April 15, 2010 // Canada, Guy Stanley, Public Policy, Science & Technology // Comments Off on Innovation in Canada
The Conference Board of Canada has published Canada’s Pathways Toward Global Innovation Success: Report of the Leaders’ Panel on Innovation-Based Commerce, Conference Board of Canada, Report by Guy Stanley
McGill plays important role in new global cancer-research network
International Cancer Genome Consortium plans to sequence 25,000 cancer genomes
A new network was announced today by the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), and Dr. Bartha Knoppers, Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy (CGP) located within the McGill University/Genome Quebec Innovation Centre, will occupy a key role. More
Guy Stanley replies in his inimitable fashion to Ms Huffington’s piece below:
“My first reaction was, How dare ‘they’ try to take our title away from us! ‘Dead last’ in innovation belongs to Canada among the rich nations! But the facts in the post are accurate so far as they go–mainly addressing the failure of US public schools and the cyclical impact of the ‘Great’ recession. Before counting out the US it would be wise to remember (1) it still has about 40% of the world’s patents in leading scientific fields (closest rival, Japan) , that in the last few years it has virtually swept the scientific Nobels, and that at least three times in the last 20 years they have transformed a major world system: in the 70’s and 80’s with hub and spoke networks and on on-line reservations for airline transport based on competitive fees, 2) the re-reg of telecommunications from voice to data, again on competitive principles, so the Internet and in particular on-line commerce, could take off, and 3) lastly of course, financial services–and we know where that led us–from creative destruction to destruction–but, hey, innovation is still innovation. Going forward is not so clear. The Asians who came to the US for post grad studies may still come, but they are equally likely to return home with new knowledge, the Chinese already have dual posts, a lot of them, in the US or Europe and China, and both countries (India and China) are producing scads of new engineers, although they have some distance to go before the intensity ratios of their workforce catch up to those of the west. Moreover R&D at the corporate level is globalizing. Hence the Huffie emphasis on business conditions in the US. One reason Canada’s innovation scores are so low is that a lot of Canadian innovation actually happens in the US because of its innovation-friendly capital markets and business environment. Not clear that can or will continue. But if it doesn’t the global innovation picture will be much less clear. Why? apart from the attractiveness of the US business environment, there is another point to be made: virtually every other country uses an effective form of guided investment to promote innovation into paradigms that were put in place by the US. Without the US a a crazy attractor, other countries would have to step up. Germany probably has the corporate power, but of course China and India appear to have the greatest potential in a longer view. Either way, those changes would definitely change the way innovation is or has been done since World War II. We don’t have to worry though: things will have to change radically here –who can remember the last time THAT happened (1759?)–before there’s any risk of our losing the bottom slot.”
Arianna Huffington: When It Comes to Innovation, Is America Becoming a Third World Country?
Once upon a time, the United States was the world’s dominant innovator — partly because we didn’t have much competition. As a result of the destruction wreaked by WWII, the massive migration of brainpower to the U.S. caused by the war, and huge amounts of government spending, America had the innovation playing field largely to itself. None of these factors exist as we enter the second decade of the 21st century. America now has plenty of countries it’s competing with — many of which are much more serious about innovation than we are. Indeed, a report on the progress made by industrialized countries over the last decade in the area of innovation ranked the U.S. dead last. When it comes to our approach to innovation, we desperately need some innovation. Here are three good places to start.
Canadian Innovation: Generating and Leveraging Success with Furlong, Hasenfratz, Jenkins & Martin (Canada at 150 conference)
Dave Valliere, Ryerson University: Canada’s missing innovation piece
(Financial Post) Through NSERC and other bodies, Canada invests more than $2-billion annually in technology R&D and other forms of knowledge creation as part of a general innovation agenda. Government also invests through incentive programs like the widely acclaimed SR&ED tax credit, and other regional or industry-specific incentives to encourage knowledge clusters. Corporate Canada also invests over $10-billion in R&D annually. Given this level of investment, it’s good to know we’re actually pretty good at it. Canadians create 20,000 new patents every year, each a potentially invaluable new piece of intellectual property. But the disappointing truth is that we usually don’t get much return on our investment in new knowledge, compared with other countries.
The Canadian level of support for innovation is not much below that of the United States, but our ability to translate this into global market leadership is much lower — on par with that of China, which lacks only the R&D infrastructure of the United States and Canada to achieve greater commercial dominance (a gap that is rapidly closing). As a result of this inability, the fruit of Canadian invention continues to be commercialized by others who reap the economic and social benefits.
A Report card on Canada
(Conference Board of Canada) Canada ranks 14th among 17 peer countries and continues to be a “D” performer on innovation in the latest report card.
Canada’s report cards on innovation and environment are still below average. We do not do a good job of identifying and capitalizing on those areas where we can be globally competitive. Can real progress be made? … the results remain uneven. Canada receives an “A” grade on education and “B” grades on its economic, health, and social performances. But we get a “C” on environmental performance and a “D” on innovation.
22 February 2010
Marc Garneau: A sorry state of affairs: Canada gets failing grade in science and innovation
(Hill Times – subscription only) Let’s get down to brass tacks; Canada has no science policy. It is drifting and its competitors are overtaking it. What it has is a minister of state who says exactly the same thing every time he is questioned on the subject: “Canada is making record investments in science and technology.” This is not only false, it doesn’t answer the question.
18 August 2009
Let’s focus our innovation efforts
By David Mitchell, Citizen Special
A business executive, a research scientist and a senior bureaucrat all walk into a hotel …
Yes, it may sound like the start of a bad joke, but in this case, there were dozens of people from each of the three sectors; they were gathered to discuss the future of innovation in Canada, not argue about sex or baseball; and by the time they had their first refreshment at the end of a long day, they’d reached significant consensus on a science and technology strategy to keep the country competitive in a global economy.
In light of the impassioned current debate about the wisdom of selling into foreign hands the assets of Nortel — a company that has been Canada’s most important industrial research giant — such a consensus couldn’t be more timely.
Earlier this year, in response to the deepening economic crisis, Preston Manning urged Canada to mobilize its science and technology communities around solutions to increase our productivity and competitiveness, enhance public health and environmental conservation, and promote clean energy.
Recognizing a good idea, the Public Policy Forum acted on Manning’s call for an independently-organized “Science Day in Canada.”
We brought together distinguished researchers, leading business executives and senior public servants to help move the agenda from describing the challenges we face, to prescribing some viable solutions. Despite their widely disparate perspectives, the 130 or so participants agreed on some key conclusions.
First, they acknowledged Canada’s strengths and weaknesses in innovation as analyzed by the Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC) and the Council of Canadian Academies. Our visionary granting councils, numerous research chairs, grants and awards, and the unparalleled collaboration within the academic sector have created a very strong research community.
At the same time, private sector commitment to research lags behind other countries, despite the fact that Canada ranks first among OECD nations in government support of R&D. Our education system fails to capitalize on younger students’ science success, producing too few scientists. And all sectors fail to effectively transform discoveries into useful innovations.
But we have some clear opportunities to address those shortcomings.
For instance, the co-operation that currently happens within the research sector must expand to include more input from and collaboration with business and government.
In order to ensure that new discoveries reach those with the creativity and resources to transform them into something useful, we must support more inter-sector exchanges, and co-locate more private firms within academic research facilities.
In fact, our future success in the global economy depends on Canada doing more to cultivate an entrepreneurial ethos — not just in the private sector, but beyond. We must train not just business people, but also scientists and public servants, to cultivate the creativity, independence and persistence of entrepreneurs.
And then we must adapt our regulatory and investment systems to back them up.
Canada cannot realistically lead in all areas, so it’s in our best interests to invest strategically in those places where we can make the most difference.
STIC’s “State of the Nation” report identified some fields in which we already have a competitive advantage. In addition to our recognized leadership in areas such as multiculturalism and health in an aging population, Canada has also demonstrated expertise in biofuels and fuel cells; the health, energy and security aspects of water; and wireless networks and services. We would do well to invest more heavily in these priorities.
Eager to build on the productive first step that Science Day in Canada represented, the Public Policy Forum is already seeking partners for two strategic initiatives of our own.
We plan to convene a series of dialogues among researchers and entrepreneurs across the country, looking to cross-pollinate ideas between discovery-focused scholars and risk-taking business executives in pursuit of an enhanced market for applied research solutions.
We’ll also be recruiting scientific and media leaders in the coming months to participate in a project designed to enhance communication efforts. We have some ideas about how to support researchers in making the implications of their discoveries more accessible, and what news media can do to better engage and inform the public. Significantly, and perhaps for the first time, a consensus has emerged among leaders in business, research and government that Canada can and must choose where we can best innovate to build a stronger economy, and have a global impact.
David Mitchell is president and CEO of the Public Policy Forum, which has just published its report from Science Day in Canada — Innovation Nation: Building a Culture and Practice of Innovation in Canada
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
5 May 2009
Battery-powered vehicles to be revolutionized by Université de Montréal technology
Thousands of small electric scooters, bicycles and wheelchairs throughout Europe and Asia are powered by LifePO4 — a material used in advanced lithium-ion batteries developed by Université de Montréal researchers.
Un composant de batterie conçu à l’UdeM fait rouler des scouteurs «C’est une batterie révolutionnaire en ce sens qu’elle est faite de matériaux abondants dans la croute terrestre et non toxiques et qu’on pourra produire à un prix peu élevé. Éventuellement, elle pourrait rendre la voiture électrique très intéressante sur le plan de la rentabilité», indique Michel Gauthier, chercheur invité au Département de chimie et cofondateur de Phostech Lithium, l’entreprise qui produit la matière première de la batterie, promise à un brillant avenir. Dès cette année, une petite voiture 100% électrique, la Microcar, roulera grâce à cette source d’énergie en Europe.
8 September 2008
Incoming M.I.T. Freshman Creates New Vehicle
(Scientific American) It’s not often that an incoming college freshman is already starting his own multimillion dollar business. But that’s what’s happening to Ben Gulak. He’s a 19-year-old Canadian who’s just starting at M.I.T. Gulak’s was inspired by the overwhelming smog he saw on a trip to China two years ago. He thought there should be something better than all the polluting scooters. He spent two years tinkering and came up with a contraption he calls the Uno. It’s an electric vehicle that looks like a cross between a motorcycle and a unicycle. There are actually two wheels, but they’re side by side, not front and back. And the controls consist of a single on-off switch. You balance by simply sitting upright. You accelerate by leaning forward. Leaning backward activates the brakes. And you turn by simply leaning to the left or right. The computer control system is similar to that of the sidewalk Segway, but this device is designed like a scooter to be ridden on the street. Gulak has already won a number of prizes and gotten funding for his new Cambridge-based business. And he’s planning to balance a double-major in mechanical engineering and business at M.I.T. Which should help him get people to balance on Unos someday soon.