The need to move quickly on commercialization is taking on added urgency with the release of new data demonstrating that Canada’s technology intensive businesses are struggling. Statistics Canada’s report on the nation’s GERD-to-GDP ratio shows a reduction in R&D intensity (see page 5). This is the very indicator prime minister Paul Martin has said must significantly increase if Canada is to move into the upper echelons of innovative nations.
Unfortunately, a change in national leadership is slowing down the complex task of stimulating Canadian innovative capacity. New players occupy many of the key positions responsible for S&T and it takes time to become familiar with the relevant issues and the mechanisms available to affect change.
The new Liberal government also has other pressing matters to attend to, namely a new Budget leading up to a spring election. The Speech from the Throne strongly suggests that S&T will factor prominently in the upcoming Budget. But any major commercialization initiative will likely have to wait until the 2005 Budget, unless government breaks the cycle of announcing new measures through the budgetary process.
Until the government moves on a series of S&T- and innovation-related fronts, it’s up to the other sectors to forge ahead as best they can. The rest of the world isn’t standing still while Canada transforms innovation policy into practice. Federal leadership is important, but the work of increasing productivity and competitiveness must continue while this new government gets its house in order.