The federal government has been afforded a timely opportunity to move the markers on innovation with the latest recommendations from the Advisory Council on Economic Growth. Chaired by Dominic Barton, the council has issued five interlocking reports peppered with recommendations that provide policy makers with the ammunition they require to develop flexible policies to expand, enhance and exploit the innovation economy in ways that are inclusive and meet the future needs of business.
At a recent Ottawa conference prior to the reports’ release, Barton described himself as a hard core capitalist but the tone and breadth of the reports indicate much more: an understanding of the benefits of inclusion and even a nod to the importance of social innovation.
An added bonus is the council’s suggestions for how to pay for some of the big ticket recommendations, especially the growth and matching funds to help companies scale up and go global. The growth fund would be a “fully private-sector solution” while the government’s portion of the matching fund would be paid through a re-allocation of existing program funding and boosted with $2 from industry for every public dollar invested.
The Barton council reports are the first out of the gate as we’re still waiting on the results of the review of fundamental science and the Innovation Agenda. But its predominant focus on innovation gives the government the opportunity to make the forthcoming Budget a true innovation document that will revitalize and grow the innovative economy so that it benefits all sectors from oil and gas to nanotech.
Mark Henderson, Editor