Canada continues to tread water as a mid-level performer in science, technology, and innovation
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A major report released May 21st by Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC) concludes that Canada continues to tread water as a mid-level performer in science, technology, and innovation (STI) and is calling for Canada to aim higher and aspire for global leadership on key STI measures.
The State of the Nation 2012 report, Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation System: Aspiring to Global Leadership – the third public report from STIC – charts progress from a baseline set in 2008 and compares Canada’s performance to global science, technology and innovation leaders.
Canada has much to celebrate with respect to the high quality of our talent and our strength in generating new knowledge. However, Canada continues to lag in private sector investment in innovation and transferring knowledge into the marketplace, as well as deploying our STI talent to best advantage in the labour force.
“In order for Canada to create jobs and opportunity in a competitive world, we must aim higher,” said Howard Alper, chair of STIC. “We cannot be satisfied with the status quo or incremental progress. That is why STIC members have identified five areas, in particular, where concerted action is needed to reach global leadership.”
“For each of these areas, we have identified the world’s top-five performing countries and the threshold that Canada would have to attain to break into their ranks,” said STIC member Simon Pimstone, President and CEO of Vancouver-based Xenon Pharmaceuticals. “We believe that enhanced performance in these five areas will help secure Canada’s future as a global STI leader, bringing significant economic and societal benefits.”
The five key STI indicators identified by STIC as strategic areas for improvement include:
- Business Performance of Research and Development (BERD) as a share of GDP
- Business investment in Information and Communications Technologies
- Higher education expenditures on Research and Development (HERD) as a share of GDP
- Science and engineering doctoral degrees granted per 100,000 population
- Share of human resources in science and technology
“Canada continues to improve in terms of science and engineering doctoral degrees granted per 100,000 population,” said STIC member Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, McGill University. “However, in 2010, Canada ranked only 15th in the OECD on this measure – we need to continue to improve our performance if we are to compete with, and break into the ranks of, the world’s top five performing countries.”
“Canadian business investment in research and development has continuously declined over the past decade. In 2011, Canada ranked 25th out of 41 economies,” added STIC member Sophie Forest, Managing Partner, Brightspark Ventures. “Increased business R&D investment is essential to Canada’s future as a nation of innovators.”
The Council, chaired by Alper, is comprised of 18 senior, highly accomplished individuals from the business, research, education, and government communities. The Council provides the Government of Canada with external, confidential advice on key science, technology, and innovation policy issues, and produces the biennial, public State of the Nation reports that measure Canada’s STI performance against international standards of excellence.
A copy of STIC‘s State of the Nation 2012 report, Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation System: Aspiring to Global Leadership, as well as biographical notes on the Council members, can be downloaded at http://www.stic-csti.ca.