Leaving aside extenuating circumstances, efforts to craft and implement a viable, effective commercialization strategy for Canada are taking an awfully long time. Four years after the federal government announced it was developing an innovation strategy, we’re still waiting for something that will enable this country to leverage its investment in research and core institutions into useful and/or marketable products and services.
Enter Battelle, arguably the world’s most famous research management and contract research organization that knows a thing or two about getting technology into the marketplace. As the article on page 3 illustrates, it’s embarking on an ambitious expansion strategy and it’s set its sights on Canada as a primary market.
Battelle’s actions raise a couple of interesting questions. First and foremost, is Battelle the right model for Canada? The organization generates most of its revenue from military contracts, capitalizing on the huge US R&D infrastructure supporting its military-industrial machine. Canada’s has no equivalent R&D-industrial structure.
Secondly, is Battelle moving to fill a vacuum? In recent years, several commercialization initiatives have been proposed and rejected, while global competition grows ever more fierce. Industrial R&D spending is stagnant and research institutions don’t have the resources or know-how to mount effective, coordinated commercialization initiatives on their own.
Battelle may prove to be an effective partner in improving Canada’s commercialization output. But isn’t it a bit of a shame that it’s beating Canadians to the punch on their own turf?