Editorial – 24-19

By Mark Henderson, Editor

There’s nothing better to sharpen the focus of Canada’s instruments of research and innovations than a review. The R&D Expert Panel Review — which has already begun discussions with the main S&T players — is intended to take stock of federal investments in R&D as they relate to business and make recommendations on re-allocating that funding.

The majority of organizations that fall within the panel’s purview appear to be in reasonable shape. Many have recently re-aligned their programs to address areas considered weak, such as the ability of smaller firms to participate in global supply chains and coordination with other public funding bodies. Others such as the National Research Council, have made a good start on re-defining their role in the national system of innovation.

Some have even proposed reinventing themselves by applying a proven model of commercialization to a new area of S&T. Precarn Inc is pitching itself as a natural delivery agent for the pending Digital Economy Strategy — an astute move which deserves serious consideration.

The panel won’t wade into the question of whether the government’s current support of R&D is adequate. That’s a political decision and government itself must determine whether stagnating levels of support will hinder its larger objectives of enhancing competitiveness and productivity.

Canada clearly doesn’t have a critical mass of innovative firms, particularly in the technology space. Incentives, direct or otherwise, must be on the table even as government confronts the difficult task of eliminating the deficit.