The following infographic provides an excellent overview of the World’s Most Innovative Countries and the weighted criteria used to rank the top 10. Glaringly, Canada is completely absent from this list. It is worth noting that eight of the ten countries listed have much smaller populations than Canada. That said, I have little essential disagreement with this list. Investment in research & development, leading to commercial technology innovation is crucial to a country’s economic growth and competitiveness in productivity. Canada lags in every category.
It dawned on me that my blog post from July 2013, still has particular relevance to the current situation in Canada. I discuss the longer term structural issues confronting Canadian entrepreneurs and Canadian venture capital. When I first arrived in Canada in 1989, I learned quickly that the Vancouver startup ecosystem was nothing like what I knew from Silicon Valley.
This issue has driven me absolutely nuts since I first arrived in Canada from Silicon Valley. It did not take me long to figure out that things did not work they way they did in California, and that there wasn’t much of a true entrepreneurial economy here. Since then, I have also been appointed to the Canada Foundation for Innovation grant process, providing me with insight into how R&D funding works in Canada. I have seen many issues in Canada that have impaired the nation’s ability to develop an entrepreneurial culture, among them is the inherent Canadian conservatism and short term horizon of investors unfamiliar with technology venture investment. But none has been worse than Canada’s decades-long neglect of adequate funding for research and development nationwide.
I am both encouraged by and skeptical of these subtle changes to research funding, and glaring problems remain. As the writer, UBC Mathematics Professor, Nassif Ghoussoub, himself points out, the largest portion of government research & innovation funding is “business as usual.” The $500 Million earmarked as an Automotive Innovation Fund, is an almost laughable attempt to disguise as subsidy as funding for innovation. Distinct changes in policy and procedure are reported, as recommended by UBC President Toope, and MITACS CEO, Arvind Gupta. But with this federal government, only time will tell what will actually emerge.
A brief general overview of the Canada Foundation for Innovation grant review and evaluation process. Recommendations for researchers preparing grant applications for the 2015 CFI Innovation Fund.