Decisions by governments at all levels to turn their sights toward enhancing industrial innovation is a welcome development that’s coming not a moment too soon. The numbers are there for all to see — Canadian business, large and small, are falling short of the yardsticks being placed by their more aggressive counterparts in other nations. R&D spending is stagnant or dropping in nearly every sector, including the two that Canada relies upon the most — information and communications technologies (ICT) and health.
It’s encouraging, therefore, to see that Industry Canada is moving aggressively on the development of an ICT strategy. The ICT strategy revives efforts in an area where Canada was once an undisputed leader, boosting the connectedness agenda and leveraging ICT’s power as the enabling technology platform for virtually every sector of the economy.
In the health area, a new industry-driven body has been formed to try and realize Dr Henry Friesen’s vision of increasing the social and economic benefits of health care spending. The Canadian Health Industries Partnership must also contend with the decline in private sector R&D spending. That inevitably means revisiting the perennial issues of regulatory reform and legislation aimed at improving the taxation and patent protection environment.
How this fits into the government’s overarching commercialization and innovation strategies remains to be seen. But it’s a safe bet that a lot of hard work and tough decisions lie ahead. If there ever was a time for national consensus and collaborative thinking, this is it.