Editorial – 31-4

It’s been a busy few weeks for Canadian research and innovation. Not only did the federal Budget serve up a slew of new initiatives but the Quebec government has tabled a varied yet cohesive series of measures to stimulate both research and business innovation.

And of course the highly anticipated Naylor report on federal support for fundamental science was finally unveiled with a package of recommendations that include major budget hikes for the granting councils (something the Budget ignored).

What that leaves us with is a plethora of new ideas and proposed measures that are hopefully being assembled under the broad rubric of a national strategy or agenda. The Quebec government is promising a new strategy next month but the federal Innovation Agenda — now called the Innovation and Skills Plan — remains a largely undefined concept, at least outside of government bureaucracy.

As David Crane notes in this issue’s Opinion Leader, there has been “no public engagement, no effort to inform Canadians on what’s at stake”.

This is a serious shortcoming and a real concern for those who acknowledge the necessity of pulling together Canada’s powerful yet finite STI resources into a cohesive whole. Exploiting obvious synergies and collaborating across jurisdictional and disciplinary lines is essential for success in the global marketplace of ideas, products and services.

Quebec has long been a leader for this kind of ecosystem-wide policy planning combined with broad dissemination of provincial aspirations and measures to achieve them. The Trudeau administration would be wise to publicly release its Innovation & Skills Plan so that all stakeholders can rally around its themes, programs and strategies.

Launching new measures without an actionable strategic framework won’t get us the results we need. To avoid the dangers of working at cross purposes, we need a national strategy now.

Mark Henderson, Editor